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Halls come up roses with Chinese Vase

Monday 24 July 2017

A magnificent, large Chinese blue and white porcelain vase sold for a whopping £150,000 at a fine art auction in Shrewsbury this month despite having significant damage to its rim.

Standing 55cm high, the bottle shaped vase attracted global interest when it went under the hammer at fine art auctioneers Halls’ country house auction.

The vase, which had suffered significant damage to its rim, was discovered by Alexander Clement, Halls’ Asian art specialist, during a visit to the Southport area. It had been stored away in a warehouse for several years. 

“We are delighted with the result,” said Alexander. “It’s a privilege to be able to sell something so incredibly rare. The Asian buyer accommodated the damage because of its rarity and quality and gave it a really strong price.

“The vendor was very pleased with the result and was in the saleroom to watch the auction.”

Jeremy Lamond, Halls’ fine art director and NAVA Propertymark Fellow, said he was delighted with the £360,000 overall auction result, especially the “wonderful” price achieved by the vase.

Alexander explained that the vase’s decoration of auspicious flowers, including lotus blooms amid scrolling foliage was painted in fine detail, typical of the 18th century master Imperial potters.

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“The mark on the underside is a seal for the emperor Yongzheng who reigned between 1723-‘35. But the big question is: Was it made at that time?” he added.

After lots of expert opinions, Alexander opted for the cautious approach with an estimate of £6,000 to £10,000, but was not be surprised that the bidding raced away with competition from 12 telephone bidders.

“Similar examples have sold at auction for very large sums,” he explained. “In these cases, we must let the vase talk to us, tell us its story, so that we can begin to arrive at as firm a dating as we can. 

“The vase was bought privately around 40 years ago in the Southport area. Specialists in the Asian art field all gave their view and opinion was reserved, albeit optimistic.

“It is a magnificent object and, before damage, an imposing centerpiece.  In the current climate, it is up there among the most desirable examples of Chinese porcelain, both in mainland China and in the West.

“There are times when you encounter an object about which opinion is divided and, as the specialist and valuer, you have to take as balanced a view as possible to arrive at the right estimate and marketing strategy to achieve the best result. 

“The market likes to disagree with us from time to time and present a delightful surprise to vendor and auctioneer alike. It was very exciting to discover what the market decided today.

“An exciting antique find like this one is what keeps us auctioneers getting out of bed in the morning and for me, as a specialist in Asian art, the potential for a really magnificent result is currently very high.

“In the last 12 months, we have seen two Battlefield saleroom records broken, both by Chinese objects and results in other salerooms around the country seem to suggest the appetite for rare Asian items remains pretty strong.”

Halls’ current record at the Battlefield salerooms remains at £155,000 for a rare 18th century Chinese cinnabar lacquer brush pot, although the company’s record, achieved at the former Welsh Bridge saleroom in 2010, is £326,000 for a painting by 18th century English equestrian artist John Wootton.