A Rare Chenghua Blue and White Palace Bowl Sells for HK$56.3m

Chenghua palace bowls are the most classic type of blue and white produced in Chenghua period. This autumn, a very rare Chenghua blue and white palace bowl decorated with daylily design was sold for HK$56.3m (US$7.18m) at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong. According to the auction house, there are only known example of this bowl.

Blue and white ‘daylily’ palace bowl mark and period of Chenghua

Blue and white ‘daylily’ palace bowl mark and period of Chenghua was hammered down at HK$48m

The base inscribed with a six-character reign mark within a double circle

Chenghua Palace Bowls are probably the most classic type of blue and white produced in Chenghua period. They are produced in 1480s, which is the peak period of the Chenghua porcelain production in Jingdezhen and they were made in a dozen or so different designs. Painters had a lot of liberty leaving the porcelain white on Chenghua porcelain whereas, in the Yongle and Xuande periods, there was a tendency to fill in the white porcelain.

One of the great characteristics of Chenghua period porcelain, particularly at its peak at 1480s, is that very soft, watery cobalt blue. It is a breakthrough from the early 15th century when cobalt, which was very strong and punchy, was imported.

The present design is one of the rarest ‘palace bowl’ patterns and one of the most elegant. Only two other palace bowls with the same motif appear to exist, both today kept and on view in the British Museum, London. On these three bowls, the flowers are distinctively rendered, with two of the four blooms on each side very realistically depicted with protruding stamens consisting of filaments topped by pollen-bearing anthers, and the foliage including long, curling, blade-line leaves.

Blue and white ‘day lily’ palace bowl, mark and period of Chenghua. The Trustees of British Museum

Palace bowl offered at the present sale in Hong Kong

Nicolas Chow, Chairman, Sotheby’s Asia

Hong Kong tycoon Alan Chuang

Peter Song (the one on the phone) won the palace bowl for his client

This particular bowl has been in the collection of Hong Kong tycoon Alan Chuang in the last 15 years. It came at the time that he acquired from a Japanese collection but it has never been offered at the public market.

With a diameter of 14.9cm, the bowl is inscribed a six-character reign mark within a double circle and was expected to fetch in excess of HK$50m. The auctioneer put the hammer down at HK$48m and sold it to the telephone bidder of Peter Song from Sotheby’s Beijing branch. The bowl was sold for HK$56.3m after premium.

Another lot that offered at the sale was a blue and white reverse-decorated ‘pomegranate’ dish from the Xuande period. With a diameter of 29.5cm, the dish is inscribed with a six-character reign mark below the rim. It was estimated at between HK$25m-30m but end up being bought-in.


A blue and white reverse-decorated ‘pomegranate’ dish was bought in

The Xuande reign (1426-1435) marks the period when interest in Jingdezhen porcelain at court proliferated. To catch up with the unprecedented demand, Jingdezhen’s artisans had to develop hundreds of new designs suitable for the imperial House without becoming repetitive. Assemblages of fruits and flowers were particularly versatile, apt to be arranged in ever changing combinations, varied in colour and adapted to different shapes and sizes. This dish represents one of the rarest versions of a highly popular pattern.

The interior centred with a large medallion enclosing a flowering pomegranate spray with two open blooms and three attendant buds, interspersed with curling foliage, surrounded by a frieze along the well with four detached fruiting branches of peach, lychee, loquat and persimmon, each rendered at one of the four cardinal points. The exterior with four large lotus sprays, the blooms and curling foliage lightly incised to render subtle veining. Five other dishes of this design are recorded, all in museum collections, only four of them of Xuande mark and period, and only two preserved intact: one in the National Palace Museum, Taipei; one now in the Asia Society, New York

A Superbly Painted Blue and White 'day Lily' Palace Bowl
Mark and Period of Chenghua

Lot no.: 1002
Size: 14.9cm
Estimate: in excess of HK$50,000,000
Provenance (consolidated by The Value): Collection of Alan Chuang
Hammer price: HK$48,000,000
Price realised: HK$56,738,000

An Exceptionally Rare and Important Blue and White Reverse-Decorated ‘Pomegranate’ Dish
Mark and Period of Xuande

Lot no.: 1002
Size: 29.5cm
Provenance: Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 8th April 2007, lot 839 and back cover.

Auction Summary

Auction house: Sotheby’s Hong Kong
Sale: Two Ming Porcelain Masterpieces from an Important Collection
Venue: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
Sale date: 8 October 2019
Lots offered: 2
Sold: 1
Sold by lots: 50%
Sale total: HK$56,738,000