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Sotheby's London Sale of Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art brings $20,134,466
Lot 57 Jade 'Longevity' Ruyi Sceptre. Photo: Sotheby's.
LONDON.- Sotheby’s biannual sale of Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art today brought a total of £13,237,650 / $20,134,466, in excess of the pre-sale estimate of £7,732,500 - 11,386,500 ($11,761,133 - 17,318,867). Headlining the auction was A Rare Pair of Blue and White ‘Bajixiang’ Moonflasks, Qianlong Seal Marks and Period. These two impressive moon flasks, the cover lot of the sale, sold for £2,378,500 ($3,617,698), eclipsing their pre-sale estimate of £1 – 1.5 million.

Robert Bradlow, Director, Head of Sotheby’s London Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Department, said: “We are extremely pleased with the results of today’s auction, which brought a total of £13.2 million. We had carefully curated this sale to offer some of the finest examples of Chinese ceramics and works of art currently available to the market. The collection included marvellous rarities, including a jade sceptre, a ‘Phoenix’ vase and a ‘famille-verte’ bowl, all with outstanding provenances. Bidding in the packed sale room and over the telephones was very competitive, and we witnessed an extraordinary level of interest from our clients worldwide. We saw activity from across Asia, and the results demonstrate the continuing demand for superior quality and attractively estimated pieces.”

Imperial Qing Ceramics and Works of Art from a Far Eastern Collection, comprising 19 lots, was 100% sold and achieved a combined total of £2,449,250 ($3,725,309), almost five times above the pre-sale low estimate (£553,000 - 778,000 / $841,113 - 1,183,338). The top lot in this collection was A Fine and Rare Underglaze-Blue Polychrome Enamel ‘Phoenix’ Vase, Fangu, Qianlong Seal Mark and Period, which sold for £602,500 ($916,402) against a pre-sale estimate of £80,000-120,000. Vases of this form and decoration are rare to the market, and this factor contributed to the fierce bidding witnessed in the sale room.

From the same collection, A Fine and Rare Coral-Ground Famille-Verte Bowl, Kangxi Yuzhi Mark and Period, soared above its pre-sale estimate of £150,000-200,000 to bring £446,500 ($679,126). The bowl belongs to a small but well-known group of vessels that closely follow the design painted in the characteristic wucai palette of the Kangxi period, known in the West as the famille-verte. A Pale Celadon Jade Vase and Cover, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period, sold for £386,500 ($587,866), over five times the pre-sale low estimate (£60,000-80,000).

A White and Russet Jade ‘Longevity’ Ruyi sceptre, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong period, offered for sale in the morning session, also saw competitive bidding with the final price of £866,500 ($1,317,946) many times in excess of the pre-sale estimate of £100,000-150,000. The sceptre came to the market with a provenance of historical importance: it was gifted to His Highness Maharaja Sir Padma Shumshere Jung Bahadur Rana of Nepal from Chiang Kai-shek (1887-1975), a military and political figure who was head of the Chinese Nationalist Government from 1928 to 1949, on the occasion when his highness became the Maharaja in 1945. Ruyi sceptres of this magnificent size, 42.5cm in length, are rarely fashioned in jade due to the scarcity of boulders large enough to make objects of such expansive dimensions, and the quality of the jade in the sceptre sold at Sotheby’s today is exceptionally fine.

Further highlights from today’s sale included A Large Carved and Polychrome Wood Figure of Guanyin, Jin/Yuan Dynasty, which made £458,500 ($697,378) against an estimate of £80,000-120,000, and A Black ‘Ding’ Bowl, Song Dynasty, which sold for £194,000 ($295,834) against a pre-sale estimate of £4,000-6,000.

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