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Image courtesy of Sotheby's
Image courtesy of Sotheby's

Sotheby’s to Auction Extremely Rare Imperial Porcelain Vase

By Phoebe Ollerearnshaw

Sotheby’s will auction an extremely rare Imperial porcelain vase as part of their sale of Asian art in Paris this June.

Sotheby’s recently revealed the rediscovery of an extraordinary porcelain vase; an 18th century piece from Imperial China. The artefact was found in an attic in France and was consequently carried in a shoebox to the auction house in Paris in order for experts to survey it.

Henry Howard-Sneyd, Sotheby's Chairman of Asian Art in Europe and the Americas, commented: ‘Chinese art has been admired and collected across Europe for centuries, but the importance of certain pieces is occasionally lost over time. Given the huge appetite for Chinese art among today’s collectors, now is the moment to scour your homes and attics and to come to us with anything you might find.’

The 18th century ‘Yangcai’ Famille-Rose porcelain vase bears the mark of the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1736-1795). When Sotheby’s specialist Olivier Valmier studied the object, he was immediately overwhelmed by its quality and well-kept condition. Further research found the piece to be extremely rare; a unique example of the finest craftsmanship of the age. The Imperial porcelain vase has been labelled with an estimate of £430,000-610,000 (€500,000-700,000). Yangcai porcelains, as such items are known, are extremely rare on the market—at present there is only one other vase of this shape and design to be recorded. It was acquired by Ernest Grandidier (1833-1912)—a known Asian art dealer in the 19th century—and now rests in the collection of the Musée Guimet in Paris.

The artefact was left to the current owners by an uncle; it was listed as one of the contents of the latter’s Paris home after his death in 1947. It is recorded alongside other Chinese and Japanese objects; similar porcelains, robes, silk textiles, a bronze mirror and a carved lacquer box were among the items to accompany it. There is a distinct impression that the previous owner had an active interest in Asian art and historical artefacts.

The vase itself is adorned with an intricate landscape scene, filled with deer, cranes and pine trees—symbols of health and longevity in Chinese custom. The item is further enriched by the addition of a billowing waterfall, which reveals the true talent of the artist.

Sotheby’s will auction this magnificent Imperial porcelain vase on 12 June in Paris, the sale will likely be met with a curious and keen crowd of collectors. 

Read more: Sotheby's Unveil 'Golden Muse' Ahead of London Sale

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