T his superb blue and white ewer is absolutely unique and ranks among the most important pieces of blue and white from this seminal period in the history of Imperial porcelain, as it was made not just by the Imperial kilns, but for the personal use of the Emperor. The five-clawed dragon design is the most potent symbol of Imperial power, well-known from the following reign of Emperor Xuande and standardized throughout the rest of the Ming and Qing dynasties, but it appears for the first time during the Yongle period and this elegant ewer is among the very few examples known to be decorated with the blue-print of this important design. This masterpiece from the Yongle period has been hidden from public view since 1987, in one of the most confidential private collections since 1987, when it graced the cover of the T.Y. Chao auction catalogue.
50 Years New in Asia: The Pinnacle of Imperial Patronage, a Yongle Five-Clawed Dragon Ewer
“To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Sotheby’s Asia, it is our great privilege to present at auction one of the most iconic imperial porcelains that we have sold in the last 50 years. This superb ewer decorated with a five-clawed dragon, a masterpiece of blue and white porcelain, was produced for the personal use of the Yongle Emperor during the very pinnacle of the Ming dynasty. The ewer graced the cover of the T.Y. Chao auction in 1987, itself one of the most celebrated collections of Chinese art ever to have been presented at Sotheby’s, and has not been seen on the market for almost 40 years.”