Published: March 22, 2021
NEW YORK CITY – On March 17 in Sotheby’s New York salesroom, a Ming dynasty, Yongle period exceptional and rare blue and white “floral” bowl originally purchased for $35 at a Connecticut yard sale achieved $721,800 following a bidding battle among four bidders. Just six companion bowls are known, with most held in renowned museum collections in the world.
Angela McAteer, Sotheby’s head of Chinese works of art department in New York, said, “The result for this exceptionally rare floral bowl, dating to the Fifteenth Century, epitomizes the incredible, once-in-a-lifetime discovery stories that we dream about as specialists in the Chinese Art field. With more than five centuries of history, the bowl has an incredible story – from the famed Yongle court of the Ming dynasty to present day Connecticut, where it was recently acquired for just $35, to our York Avenue saleroom where it was one of the major stars of our sale. Upon viewing the bowl for the first time, our team immediately recognized the quality of this undisputed gem, and it is a reminder that precious works of art remain hidden in plain sight just waiting to be found.”
While perusing yard sales in Connecticut last year, the consignor came across the present small yet eye-catching bowl. Given his attraction to its striking and intricate design, he purchased the bowl without hesitation for a modest $35 – the asking price. Intrigued by the piece, the buyer brought the bowl to Sotheby’s specialists for evaluation, where it was immediately identified as an exceptionally rare piece.
For comparison, only six companion bowls are known, with most held in the most renowned museum collections around the world, including two in the National Palace Museum, Taipei; one in the British Museum; one in the Victoria & Albert Museum, London; and one in the National Museum of Iran, Tehran.
This delicate bowl is a quintessential Yongle product made for the court, showing the striking combination of superb material and painting with a slightly exotic design that characterizes imperial porcelain of this period.
For information, 212-606-7000 or www.sothebys.com.
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