Our November 2018 London auction saw great success with works of art that were fresh to the market, unearthed from families' collections.
Our November 2018 London auction saw great success with works of art that were fresh to the market, unearthed from families' collections. Two pieces that went on to achieve strong results in the November auction were going to be taken to general sales at local auction houses before we discovered them.
An extremely rare Chinese imperial vase achieved £87,500 (including premium) while two fine Japanese lacquer boxes depicting the legendary Orchid Pavilion Gathering of forty-two literati on Mount Kuaiji achieved £17,500 (including premium).
It is extremely rare to find Qing Dynasty vases of this elegant form and decoration. This piece is an imperial vase, made by official kilns in Jingdezhen which were directly controlled by the emperor, making imperial porcelain in large quantity for the court and the emperor for his personal use.
According to scholarly research, rich gold painting on an unusually bright cornflower blue glaze appeared for the first time in the Jiaqing period (1796-1820). Since Buddhist texts are written in gold on blue paper, these two colours have a special significance.
The pear-shaped body is delicately gilt with stylised lotus blooms borne on scrolling tendrils alternating with knotwork amulets suspended from the scrolls. The interior and the base are enamelled turquoise. The base is inscribed with a six-character Jiaqing seal mark in iron-red.
The lacquer work on these writing and paper Tsuishu boxes is extremely fine. The boxes depict the legendary Orchid Pavilion Gathering of forty-two literati on Mount Kuaiji (present-day Shaoxing in Zhejiang). The gentlemen had engaged in a drinking contest: rice-wine cups were floated down a small winding creek as the men sat along its banks; whenever a cup stopped, the man closest to the cup was required to empty it and write a poem. This was known as "floating goblets" In the end, twenty-six of the participants composed thirty-seven poems.
The paper box is finely carved with ten of the forty-two literati. The interior is inlaid in abalone shell with a lakeside village scene. The writing box is similarly decorated with six scholars at leisure in a mountainous landscape, with the interior fitted with an inkstone.