A Qianlong vase sold in a regional UK auction house was bid up to £43m which works out to £53m with fees. By far the largest value item ever sold by the auctioneers, the owners were wholly unaware of what they owned when they put it up for sale. Here’s the Telegraph on the sale:
The owners, who had no idea quite how much the vase was worth, were so shocked that they had to leave the room for a breath of fresh air.
Standing 16 inches tall and decorated with fish, the vase is thought to date from the time of Qianlong, the fourth emperor in the Qing dynasty, around 1740.
Experts said it probably once belonged to Chinese royalty but was most likely taken out of the country at the end of the Second Opium War in 1860 when the palaces were ransacked.
It is understood to have been in the vendors’ family since the 1930s.
On Saturday before Asia Week in New York, Freeman’s auction house in Philadelphia held its own Asian sale including this Ming-style Qianlong vase that was match to one that sold at Sotheby’s in 2008 for $750,000.
Freeman’s vase nearly doubled that. All the action took place in the room, according to Zoe Hillenmeyer speaking for Freeman’s to the Philadelphia Enquirer:
She declined to identify the buyer but said he had been in the room at the time of the sale. The auction house was packed beyond its 60 seats, Hillenmeyer said, with 20 or more individuals standing, all 15 phone lines busy and an additional 70 or 80 people bidding via the web.
Ming-style Vase is Auctioned for $1.38m (Philly.com)
The Ming Dynasty, or anachronistically referred to as Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-ledYuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic Han Chinese. Although the Ming capital Beijing fell in 1644 to a rebellion led by Li Zicheng who established the Shun Dynasty, which was soon replaced by the Manchu-led Qing Dynasty, regimes loyal to the Ming throne (collectively called the Southern Ming) survived until 1662.
As in earlier dynasties, the Ming Dynasty saw a flourishing in the arts, whether it was painting,poetry, music, literature, or dramatic theater. Carved designs in lacquerwares and designs glazed onto porcelain wares displayed intricate scenes similar in complexity to those in painting. These items could be found in the homes of the wealthy, alongside embroidered silks and wares in jade, ivory, and cloisonné. The houses of the rich were also furnished with rosewood furniture and feathery latticework. The writing materials in a scholar's private study, including elaborately carved brush holders made of stone or wood, were all designed and arranged ritually to give an aesthetic appeal