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Magnificent Blue And White 'Peony' Jar, Guan, Yuan Dynasty, Mid 14th Century (est. £400,000-600,000). Sold for: £2.6 million/$4.1 million. Photo: Sotheby's.

LONDON.- This morning at Sotheby’s London a rare and magnificent Yuan Dynasty Blue and White 'Peony' Jar, Guan sold for the exceptional sum of £2.6 million/$4.1 million, more than six times pre-sale expectations (estimate: £400,000-600,000), in the biannual Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Sale. The ‘Peony’ Jar, which came to auction from a Private Portuguese Collection, saw competition from four bidders and finally sold to an anonymous buyer on the telephone.

Blue and white wares are undoubtedly one of the greatest contributions to the art of ceramics in history. In shape, design and painting style, the vessel offered for sale is an archetypal example of the 14th century blue and white porcelain, and represents the final stage of the gradual alteration in proportions of the shape known as guan. In shape, design and painting style, the present vessel is an archetypal example of the 14th century blue and white porcelain, and represents the final stage of the gradual alteration in proportions of the shape known as guan. The neck is more distinctive, the shoulders broader and the body expanded to make the vessel appear stable and balanced. The dramatic swelling of the body –with the widest part just above the centre – contributes to the powerful profile of this guan shape, and the Yuan guan presented a new aesthetic image with its striking blue and white decorative scheme. The painting on the jar encompasses the most characteristic elements of Yuan porcelain design – the peony scroll, lotus scroll, waves, classic scroll and petal-panels or lappets. Each piece of blue and white guan was individually potted and finished; the flowers on this guan are sensitively rendered, and the cobalt colouration is deep and brilliant. The depiction of the petals on the lotus bloom on this jar is particularly distinctive, with the petals folding over to reveal the heart of the bloom, and the stamen also prominently displayed.

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Magnificent Blue And White 'Peony' Jar, Guan, Yuan Dynasty, Mid 14th Century. Photo: Sotheby's.

superbly potted, the broad-shouldered tapering body rising from a recessed base to a broad short neck with rolled rim, boldly painted in vivid cobalt-blue tones with a broad band of scrolling peony and lotus, each bloom finely articulated with petals and leaves lightly incised to allow for subtle veining and borne on a continuous undulating leafy stem with attendant offshoot buds, all above narrow classic scroll and lotus-lappet bands, the shoulder encircled by a leafy lotus meander below a vigorously painted band of tumbling waves at the neck, the different registers of the decoration separated by double-line borders, the cobalt-blue of intensely vibrant purple-blue tone with pronounced 'heaping and piling' accentuating the painterly brushstrokes against the faintly bluish white glaze, the base left unglazed to reveal the fine porcellanous body with remnant traces of glaze caught against the knife-cut grooves of the foot and the slightly countersunk center; 28cm., 11in. Est. £400,000-600,000. Sold for: £2.6 million/$4.1 million

Property of a private portuguese collection.

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 10 Nov 10, London www.sothebys.com