Published: April 27, 2004
Sotheby’s Emperor and Scholar sale and auction of Chinese ceramics and works of art, conducted April 25, realized a total of $25 million, with four auction records fetched.
A turquoise-glazed monochrome dish from the Xuande period of the Ming dynasty was sold to an Asian private collector for $1,587,730, setting a new world auction record for monochrome porcelain. The dish once belonged to the British Rail Pension Fund Collection and is unique and is in perfect condition. The achievement of the bright turquoise glaze is considered brilliant, given the constraints in the Ming dynasty.
A highly important carved and inscribed shell-shaped Mughal white jade cup from the Qianlong period of the Qing dynasty was sold for $1,185,620, setting a new auction record of nephrite. This white jade cup ranks among the finest Mughal jades to have entered Emperor Qianlong’s collection. The jade, given to the emperor from the Mughal court in India as a tribute to the emperor, has an exceptional milky white tone and translucency. The cup has a gardenia flower carved and a delicate inscription of an Imperial poem.
An extremely rare inscribed green jade mountain from the same period was sold for $1,070,730, setting a new auction record for spinach jade. In forest-green color, the stone was elaborately carved with pavilions, pathways, river and bridges on one side, the reverse with lofty pine trees, waterfall and is inscribed with six-gilded imperial poems.
An important and superbly carved tianhuang imperial lion seal also from the Qianlong period also set a record for the most expensive seal sold at auction when it changed hands for $1,013,280. Seals rank among the most personal objects of the literati and, in the case of the emperor, encapsulate his authority. This tianhuang soapstone seal was carved with a mythical animal the emperor’s use.
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