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A rare porcelain Chinese vase from Qianlong Dynasty era of 18th century, has found a buyer for 9 million dollars in Sotheby’s’s auction in Hong Kong in July.


Pets wandering in the house may pose a danger for valuable porcelain wares. But a 300 years old rare Chinese porcelain vase that’s standing in an open cabinet at a house where several cats and dogs are living in, has safely arrived Sotheby’s’s auction and sold for a record price, 9 million dollars.

This vase is identified as one of the most graceful and complex porcelain parts left from the Qianlong Dynasty era. According to Sotheby’s it is “A lost masterpiece of Chinese porcelain”. Symbolizes the peak point of creativity in Chinese handicrafts of hundreds of years. It has a complex cage of celadon green on the outer side. It has been crafted in yangcai style with Rococo flowers meaning that it carries “foreign colors” inspired from coming into contact with Europe. On the inner side, through the decorative holes on the outer urn, you can see a peachy patterned second vase dyed in blue-white combination. Ceramics expert Regina Krahl is saying that potters in the imperial kilns may have faced probably the biggest technical difficulties back then while making these double enclosured vases produced for the Qianlong Emperor.

For the honor of the English collector who once owned the vase, an 278 years old ceramic ware called Harry Garner Reticulated Vase has been sold only for 44 Pounds – about 1.500 USD in todays money – in 1954 in Sotheby’s’s auction. Still it’s a mystery that how this vase was able to escape the attention of the market for 60 years in a far Central European country (auction house is not specifying the country) after two very important Chinese art collectors Sir Harry Garner and Henry M. Knight. The last owner has found out about the importance of the vase when the Dutch art consultant Johan Bosch van Rosenthal was invited to evaluate the precious wares in the house. Sotheby’s Asia’s Chairman Nicolas Chowis also saying “It’s a miracle how this splendid fragile vase has stood still in a housefull of pets for half a century”.

According to a palace record dated 1742, an official of the imperial kiln whose name was TangYingh as inspected the shaping, glazing, firing and enamel processes of the vase in Jingdezhen, in South China. The ceramic has been preserved in the Palace of Heavenly Purity in Forbidden City, Beijing for a while. It has probably stayed in the palace for years until wealthy Europeans and Americans began to collect Chinese porcelains by the end of 19th and the beginning of 20th century.

An art historian in New York Technology and Fashion Institute, Kyunghee Pyun is stating that as of by 1870s , the security in Imperial Palace was loosened after Opium Wars and the staff could easily steal something from the imperial collection. According to Pyun it’s also possible that the vase may not have been made for the Palace because Chinese collectors prefer smooth surfaces instead of unusual shapes. “The imperial kiln was aware of the foreign markets so they wanted to create something new. An extravagant thing in some sense. This special ceramic is unusual and different from China’s taste of collection ceramics” says.

This unusual vase is one of the few ceramics that have been rediscovered and sold for great amounts of money. Previously a Qianlong vase found in a house in London in 2010, has breaked the world record among Chinese works of art and sold for 43 million Pounds (about 68 million USD later) in an auction. And an other 18th century vase which has been found in a shoebox in France in 2018, was sold for 16,2 million Euros (about 19 million USD later).


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