Xuande 'three fish' stemcup to make $7.7m in October 8 sale?

A Xuande period (1426-1435) "three fish" stemcup is to star in a single lot auction at Sotheby's Hong Kong on October 8 with a valuation of $5.1m-7.7m.

The 15th century lot benefitted from the recently developed ability to paint with red glaze.

stem cup
The 'three fish' cup displays an early, successful attempt to paint in red glaze

While the technique of creating the colour from copper pigments was relatively established, the cup is one of only a handful to display a successful attempt at figurative painting.

The large number of failures in the piles of waste found at the Jingdezhen kiln is evidence of the complexity and capriciousness of the method.

Sotheby's comments: "The radical simplicity of this three-fish and related three-fruit designs is without par in the history of Chinese porcelain decoration and exceptional among Chinese imperial works of art…

"The admirable, jewel-like colour and texture of these silhouettes was achieved only in the Xuande reign and was not matched again even in the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), when these designs were frequently copied, particularly in the Yongzheng (1723-35) and Qianlong (1736-95) eras."

Another 15th century cup, this one made several years later for the Chenghua emperor (1465-1487), made $36.2m at Sotheby's Hong Kong last year.

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