7503 - 20170314 - Sotheby's New York announces 'Ming: The Intervention of Imperial Taste' - New York - 14.03.2017

An Exceptionally Rare and Important Blue and White Moon Flask Ming Dynasty, Yongle Period Estimate $2.2/3 million. Photo: Courtesy Sotheby’s.
On 14 March, Sotheby’s New York will commence it’s Asia Week New York sales with Ming: The Intervention of Imperial Taste. An exploration of imperial influence and technical refinement, the sale chronologically examines the three hundred-year reign of the Ming Dynasty. From the perfection of white porcelain after the transfer of power from Yuan to Ming, to the expansion of blue and white designs by the end of the 16th Century, these fourteen works of art encapsulate the vested interest and pride of the Ming emperors and their courts in such works of art. In the words of Dr. John Alexander Pope, ‘it may well be that no product, either industrial or artistic, or both, ever combined greater beautify and utility or exercised wider influence over such a large part of the world as did Ming porcelain’. The New York exhibition of Ming: The Intervention of Imperial Taste opens to the public on 9 March 2017, along with all other Asia Week New York auctions and selling exhibitions.

An Exceptionally Rare and Fine Anhua-Decorated Tianbai-Glazed Meiping
Ming Dynasty, Yongle Period
Height 12 5/8 in., 32.2 cm
Estimate $2.3/2.8 million
While the Yuan Dynasty attributed special significance to white porcelain, its perfection was achieved under the reign of the Yongle Emperor. The tianbai glaze, described by writer Huang Yizheng as ‘immaculate like piled-up snow’, is a striking illustration of technical development; in the present example, the intricate peony scrolls beautifully materialize from under the luminous, luscious white glaze.

Property from an Important Private Collection
An Exceptionally Rare and Important Blue and White Moon Flask
Ming Dynasty, Yongle Period
Height 11 3/8 in., 28.8 cm
Estimate $2.2/3 million
Under the watchful eye of the Yongle Emperor, the imperial kilns of Jingdezhen in Jiangxi produced porcelain of the highest caliber, with many reserved for diplomatic missions led by Admiral Zheng He. Traded for rare animals, medicinal and food plants, pearls, precious stones, ivory and other luxury goods in major ports across South and Southeast Asia and as far afield as the Middle East, such works of art were perceived to be incredibly rare, valuable and symbolic of the Middle Kingdom. It is therefore unsurprising that the only surviving companion of the same design was preserved by in the Ottoman royal collection, and now resides at the Topkapı Palace in Istanbul, Turkey.

Property of a Gentleman
An Exceptionally Rare and Large Fine Blue and White Reserve-Decorated ‘Peony’ Dish
Xuande Mark and Period
Diameter 15 1/4 in., 38.6 cm
Estimate $1/1.5 million
During the Xuande period, ceramics previously destined for far-away lands – as had been the case in the aforementioned Yuan Dynasty – were re-directed towards the imperial courts. This decision significantly impacted designs of works of art, including reserve-decoration wares, as standards of quality were raised to meet the lofty expectations of the Emperor. In this Exceptionally Rare and Large Fine Blue and White Reserve-Decorated ‘Peony’ Dish, the meticulous application of both blue and white glazes is highlighted by the smooth and even surface.

Property from an Important Private Collection
A Superbly Painted Rare Blue and White ‘Dragon’ Brush Washer
Xuande Mark and Period
Diameter 8 1/8 in., 20.7 cm
Estimate $1.5/2.5 million
Praised by foreigners, blue and white porcelain garnered admiration amongst the Chinese during the Xuande Period for its graceful shapes and delicate painting. The present brush washer – a shape that would have been treasured by the Xuande Emperor, a lover of calligraphy and ink painting – is extremely rare. With its exceptionally painted dragon roundels and the inscription of the Xuande reign mark, this work of art would have been exclusively created for the imperial court.