The use of underglaze cobalt blue on the white porcelain had reached under the Yuan a refinement which continued under Yongle. In the reign of the Xuande emperor the chemists significantly improved this technique for shading the blue. An extreme care is taken in the homogeneity of the cobalt solution and in the control of the kiln atmosphere. The sharpness of the line is also improved.
The image of the dragon, appreciated by the Yuan, becomes popular again in the Xuande porcelain, with a fierce expression. Dark blue dragons move in an environment of lighter figures. This contrast reinforces the power of the imperial symbol.
A stem bowl 15.4 cm in diameter was sold for HK $ 113M including premium by Sotheby's on April 4, 2012. The drawing of the dragons is exquisite.
Two porcelain pieces with the mark of Xuande come for sale in Hong Kong. On the theme of the dragon, both are great examples of the Xuande perfection in blue and white that will never be equaled even under Chenghua.
On May 30, Christie's sells a jar 48 cm high, lot 3012 estimated HK $ 60M. The empowered dragon deploys its undulating body throughout the circumference.
On May 31, Lyon and Turnbull in association with Freeman's sells a stem cup 10 cm in diameter, lot 84 estimated in excess of HK $ 22M. I invite you to watch the video introducing this lot.
RESULTS INCLUDING PREMIUM :
Jar at Christie's : HK$ 158M
Stem cup at Lyon and Turnbull : HK$ 41.5M