From our Chinese Blue and White Collection, a truly once in a lifetime find, this massive and breathtaking piece is an exceptionally rare Kangxi Period (1662- 1722) blue and white porcelain fishbowl, ex-Sotheby’s, potted in classic deep U-form with rolled rim. It is very well-painted in a rich underglaze blue of the highest quality, the design depicting Chinese style flower baskets within four individual lotus shaped cartouches, each separated by reserves of stylized aster sprays. Additionally, two of the four flower baskets have either a dragon or a phoenix cleverly incorporated into the design.
Massive porcelain fishbowls such as this example are known to have adorned the grand palaces and country estates of the Dutch and British noble classes in the late 1600's and early 1700's. Specifically, Queen Mary is known to have displayed them at her palace in Het Loo Holland, with similar examples having graced the halls of Hampton Court Palace. Interestingly, despite their intended purpose as fishbowls, the English nobility in particular often used them as jardinières for their citrus plants, which themselves were fashionable curiosities in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.
An exceptionally rare piece for the serious collector, a photo of the actual Sotheby’s catalog listing for this item appears below. (Please bear in mind that the US Dollar - GBP exchange rate was different in 2007 than it is now.) We are aware of only three other comparable Kangxi examples having been sold through Sotheby's in the past 10 years: Compare Lot 84, Paris Sale June 9th, 2011, sold for 53,000 US dollars (36,750 Euros); Compare also Lot 82, Sale LO7210, May 2007, sold for 36,000 US dollars (18,000 GBP); Compare also Lot 216, Sale LO3210, June 2003, sold for 50,000 US dollars.
Size and Condition: This is a massively potted piece weighing in at 47 pounds. It is 18 1/2 inches diameter (47 cm), 16 1/2 inches high (41.9 cm). It is the heaviest single piece of porcelain we have ever handled, and it must be professionally crated for safe and proper shipment.