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Exceptionally rare Imperial nine-dragon dish is top seller at Bonhams Asian Week sales
Imperial underglaze-blue and iron-red enamel 'nine-dragon' dish, Qianlong seal mark and period. Sold for £536,750. Photo: Bonhams.

LONDON.- An exceptionally rare and large Imperial underglaze-blue and iron-red enamel 'nine-dragon' dish, Qianlong seal mark and period (1736-1795), sold for £536,750 at Bonhams Fine Chinese Art sale in London today (Thursday, 8 November). It had been estimated at £400,000 – 600,000.

Bonhams Global Head of Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Asaph Hyman said, “Only a handful of Qianlong seal mark and period examples of dishes of this impressive size and bold decoration are known to exist in either museum or private collections. This important dish encapsulates the exacting and refined taste of the Qianlong Emperor together with the high skill and artistry of the artisans.”

The large dish had been in the collection of the British businessman and Hong Kong politician Sir David Newbigging who bought it on a trip to China in the 1960s. It had been consigned for sale from a European private collection, and had never before been offered at auction.

The sale also featured an extremely rare Imperial 'Twelve Symbol' Dragon Robe, jifu Qianlong (1736-1795), which sold for £464,750 having been estimated at £100,000 – 150,000. Blue-ground Imperial robes were only worn by the Emperor twice a year during the performance of ceremonies aimed at invoking rain and good harvest at the Altar of Heaven This remarkable robe boasts important provenance having been acquired in Beijing in 1912 by Brigadier-General Offley Bohun Stovin Fairless Shore (1863-1922).

Ollivier Collection of Early Chinese Art
At the sale of the Ollivier Collection of Early Chinese Art held at Bonhams on the same day (8 November) a rare pair of carved wood figures of seated bodhisattvas from the Song Dynasty sold for £512,750 against an estimate of £120,000-150,000.

Other highlights included:

• a magnificent Tang Dynasty sancai-glazed model of a Bactrian camel that sold for £368,750 (estimate: £300,000-400,000)

• a white marble head of Mahasthamaprapta from the Northern Qi Dynasty which sold for £308,750 (estimate £250,000-300,000).

The Fine Chinese Art Sale and the sale of the Ollivier Collection made a combined total of nearly £6 million.

On 27 November Bonhams is offering in Hong Kong three Chinese art sales: Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art; Tang’s Hall of Precious: The Durwin Tang Collection of Chinese Jades; and Exceptional Chinese Rhinoceros Horn Carvings from the Angela Chua Collection: A Lifetime’s Pursuit (Part I)

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