Someone Spent $25.3M for This 'Highly Important' Bowl

Chinese antique sold in Sotheby's auction
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 10, 2023 1:26 PM CDT
Someone Spent $25.3M for This 'Highly Important' Bowl
Photo of the coveted bowl.   (Sotheby's)

The bowl is pretty and small, and also represents the "peak of painting on porcelain." The Chinese antique also just went for $25.3 million at an auction over the weekend, with an unknown entity scooping up the "highly important" artifact crafted sometime in the mid-18th century, per CNN. "The superb painting of two loving swallows beside a flowering apricot tree intertwined with a willow tree is complemented by a short poem evocative of the spring," reads the description of the bowl, sold Saturday, on the Sotheby's site.

The bowl, painted during the time of the Yongzheng Emperor, who ruled over China from 1722 to 1735, is an example of falangcai ("foreign colors") ceramics, "among the rarest and most celebrated imperial ceramic wares of the Qing dynasty," per The Value. The porcelain pieces from this group were fired in the kilns of the city of Jingdezhen, then brought to the imperial workshops within Beijing's Forbidden City. The emperor himself would greenlight the design, and then painters would finish the enamel job, before the pieces were fired a second time for completion.

This particular bowl changed hands multiple times over the years, most recently landing in the possession of collector Alice Cheng, who scooped it up in 2006 for $19.3 million. The sale was just one of many in the auction house's Hong Kong spring block, whose art sales saw nearly $210 million collected. Nicolas Chow, chair of Sotheby's Asia division, called this week's auctions "exceptional" and noted that China's artworks remain "at the forefront of our business." (More auction stories.)

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