The new emperor, who reigned for ten years, was personally concerned about ceramics, resuming the tradition of court vessels that enabled the porcelain to reach a height under the Northern Song three centuries earlier. Xuande continued to promote Jingdezhen, which received the best cobalts. The imperial mark was applied systematically on the pieces made for the palace.
Considering that the wonderful Chenghua palace bowls will be a limited operation for the fashionable court instead of a personal initiative of the emperor, it may be stated that the Xuande period marks the high end production of the Ming porcelains.
On March 18 in New York, Sotheby's sells a bowl with the Xuande mark, lot 269 estimated $ 2.5M.
This blue and white piece 26 cm in diameter is finely decorated with dragons with five claws per paw, symbolizing the power of the emperor and suggesting that it was foreseen for the personal use of Xuande. Its thick wall that increases the robustness is a technical innovation to fly the dice without damaging the porcelain.
This bowl had been sold for £ 1.4M by Bainbridges on May 17, 2012. Two years earlier, the auction house had sold for £ 43M a reticulated Qianlong vase but the Chinese buyer refused to pay the additional non-declining premium of £ 8.6M, regrettably canceling this beautiful record.