final sale of 2011 in Paris, devoted to Asian Art, totalled 12.45 million against an overall pre-sale estimate of 6.5-9m. The highest price rewarded an 18th century cabinet formed by four carved zitan panels of dragons, from the reign of Emperor Qianlong. This remarkable item of furniture, of exceptional size, has exquisite carving in a wood reserved exclusively for imperial use. The cabinet was discovered and identified in a French private collection; its price of 2,528,750 reflects the importance bidders accord works of historic significance with an imperial background (lot 35).
The sale's second-highest price of 960,750 went to a rare Qing Dynasty Chinese porcelain tea-dust Hu vase, with gold highlights and a Qianlong hallmark (1736-95). The vase's special glaze, imitating the oxidation of archaic bronze vases, reflects the amazing savoir-faire attained by the imperial porcelain workshops in Jindezhen during the 18th century. The vase's rarity, historic importance and remarkable state of preservation justified the almost seven-figure price (lot 92).
There was fierce bidding throughout the sale, notably for a Literati cabinet made of huanghuali which, at 696,000 (lot 105), set a French record for a piece of furniture in huanghuali wood. The cabinet's ingenious design, allied to Chinese collectors' enthusiasm for such furniture, explained the soaraway price.
There were exceptional prices for works in a variety of categories, all confirming the saleroom appeal of exceptional Chinese objects: a carved, white jade vase from the late 18th century doubled its high-estimate on 408,750 (lot 126); a Ming Dynasty blue porcelain dish with an underglazed yellow ground and the Zhengde hallmark (1506-21) raced to 540,750 (lot 75); and a Ming Dynasty blue and white porcelain archaistic vase from the Wanli Period (1573-1679) took 240,750 (lot 67).
Finally, after the success of a work by Xu Beihong last June, a price of almost 300,000 (lot 226) for a painting by Li Keran confirmed that Paris is an excellent auction venue for Chinese modern art.