Chinese antiques from distinguished collectors valued at combined US$11.9 million dollars to be auctioned (Part 2)

The provenance of Chinese antiques is very important. In addition to helping judge each object’s authenticity, it allows the audience to understand the tastes of different prominent collectors.

In this Autumn Sale, Sotheby’s Hong Kong brings a variety of antiques from distinguished collections – the Zuellig Brothers, an American Brigadier General and the Canton Collection.  

Amongst them, The Value chose four Chinese antiques and will be talked about below. They are expected to fetch a combined HK$93 million (around US$11.9 million) dollars at the auctions.

These objects will be sold as premium lots, alongside the sale's leading lot – a ruyi sceptre from the Qianlong period (1735-1796).

This article is divided into two sections – the previous article (Part 1) can be found here

Junyao purple-splashed bubble bowl

Created in the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127 CE)
Diameter: 8.5 cm

  • The Canton Collection, Hong Kong
  • Sotheby’s London, 12th June 2003, Lot 107

Estimated Price: HK$18,000,000 – 22,000,000 (around US$2.3-2.8 million)


In the history of Chinese ceramics, the Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE) pursued the ultimate in shape and colour. A small bowl measuring a few centimetres can be worth more than millions of US dollars.

This object’s provenance is traced back to the Canton Collection – part of the Pan family clan. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the family played a prestigious role in the Thirteen Factories of Canton (a commercial hub for international trade, circa 17th-19th century) and appreciated Chinese relics. 


Bubble-like texture found after the furnacing process contributes to its name, the bubble bowl 


Every bubble bowl originating from Jun ware has its own individual pattern and tonal variation, created as if by nature. Jun kilns are mostly blue, and if they have purple patches, they are top grade.

These small bowls or wine cups are known in the West known as bubble bowls

The finishing of the ceramics are different before and after the kiln is furnaced. Before the furnacing process, the blue and purples are single colours. After the furnacing process, the single colours become more textured like bubbles, contributing to its name. Ultimately, the vibrant colours, glossy glaze and rounded shape create the illusion of a soap bubble, thus giving their bubble bowl name.

Blue and white ‘lion and ball’ jar

Mark and period of Xuande Emperor (1425-1435)
Width: 22.8 cm

  • Collection of Major Lindsay Fitzgerald Hay (1891-1946) of Bath
  • Sotheby's London, 16th June 1939, Lot 88
  • Collection of Lionel Edwards (died c. 1944)
  • Sotheby's London, 8th February 1945, Lot 81 (£145)
  • Bluett & Sons, London
  • Collection of Major Lindsay Fitzgerald Hay (1891-1946) of Bath
  • Sotheby's London, 25th June 1946, Lot 28 (£92)
  • Bluett & Sons, London
  • Collection of Richard Edmund Relfe Luff, CBE (1887-1969)
  • Collection of the RER Luff Will Trust
  • Sotheby's London, 26th June 1973, Lot 23 (£47,000)
  • Hugh M. Moss Ltd, London
  • Collection of Victor Shaw, Hong Kong and Vancouver
  • Sotheby's Hong Kong, 29th November 1976, Lot 468 (HK$135,000)

Estimated Price: HK$15,000,000 – 18,000,000 (around US$1.9-2.3 million)


This Xuande-period jar has a very distinguished provenance.

It was auctioned at Sotheby’s London as early as 1939. Since then, it has been sold by many famous antique dealers and collectors across the world, including British antique dealers Bluett & Sons.

In 2011, Sotheby’s Hong Kong had a similar blue and white ‘lion and ball’ jar from the Yongle period (reigned 1402-1424), which was part of the Meiyintang Collection. It was estimated at HK$40 to 60 million (around US$5.1 to 7.7 million) dollars, but it was not sold in the end.

Blue and white ‘lion and ball’ jar on sale in this Autumn Auction | Sotheby's Hong Kong, October 2021

Blue and white ‘lion and ball’ jar from the Yongle period (reigned 1402-1424) | Sotheby's Hong Kong, 2011, Estimated Price: HK$40 – 60 million (around US$5.1 to 7.7 million)


This blue-and-white jar is an example of production of Xuande Emperor’s (reigned 1426-1435) imperial workshops in Jingdezhen, north-eastern China. Its design depicting playful animals, wildly chasing embroidered balls with fluttering ribbons, is one of the most enchanting of the period.

During the 14th and 15th centuries, Ming China flourished with its international diplomacy, bringing back home exotic animals and plants from expeditions to Asia and Africa. The lion was one such animal that was imported. In India, the lion is associated with Buddhism, considered a symbol of strength and protector of Buddhist teachings.

It is highly unlikely that lions made it as far as the imperial workshops in China, but the animals on the present jar are realistically represented.

Auction Details

Auction House: Sotheby’s Hong Kong

Sale: Important Chinese Art including Imperial Jades from the De An Tang Collection

Date and Time: 13 October 2021 | 10am (Hong Kong local time)

Number of lots: 95