Asian Antiques Appraisals And Valuations

$25 Million For Yongzhengs Falangcai Masterpiece

A rare and delicate porcelain bowl, which measures less than 4.5 inches in diameter, was sold for a whopping sum of over $25 million during a busy week of Chinese art sales in Hong Kong. Sotheby’s, the auction house responsible for the sale, described the bowl as “highly important” due to its association with a group of ceramics decorated at Beijing’s imperial workshops during the 18th century.

Dating back to the Yongzheng Emperor’s reign, from 1722 to 1735, the bowl is a masterpiece of the “falangcai,” or “foreign colors,” tradition. This term refers to porcelain that originated from Jingdezhen’s imperial kilns but was then enameled by skilled artisans from the Forbidden City in Beijing. The bowl’s design features motifs of birds and flowers, which were prevalent during the Yongzheng period.

According to ceramics expert Regina Krahl, the bowl is one of a select few items that represents “the peak of painting on porcelain, an artistry that was never surpassed.” Krahl went on to describe the bowl’s nature motifs as “sparse and refined,” adding that such designs were only produced in Beijing for a brief period. Today, the majority of these bowls are held in the Palace Museum in Taiwan.

Originally part of a pair, the bowl was recorded in a collection assembled by Shanghai-based shipping merchant Captain Charles Oswald Liddell in the late 19th century. The two bowls were separated in 1929 when they were sold for £150 each. Sotheby’s notes that the bowl’s “twin” is currently held at the British Museum in London.

Over the years, the bowl has been passed down through several owners, including the American socialite Barbara Hutton. In 2006, businesswoman and collector Alice Cheng purchased the bowl for a then-record 151.32 million Hong Kong dollars ($19.3 million). It was sold again on Saturday for over $25 million, highlighting the continued allure of exquisite Chinese antiques.


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