€540,000 Qianglong White Jade Vase Sold to Legendary Collector Robert Chang at Christie's Paris Art d'Asie Sale

The Paris sale week is happening in full swing. Christie's began their sale week today with an impressive Art d'Asie sale that offered a selection of Qing dynasty pieces. As expected, these pieces were the stars of the sale and sold for a few times their estimates. A white and russet jade ‘double-gourd’ vase landed into the hands of the legendary collector Robert Chang and realised nearly €540,000 (US$610,000) with buyer's premium. 

A white and russet jade ‘double-gourd’ vase, Qianlong Period (1736-1795)

Collector and dealer Robert Chang

The bidding of the vase began at €100,000 and the price steadily rose to €150,000 with an increment of €10,000 per bid. Suddenly, a telephone bid of €200,000 ignited fierce competition between bidders in the saleroom. After 17 bids, the vase was hammered down at €440,000, three times its estimate.

White jade pieces have been highly sought-after in recent years. This vase measures 20cm in height and is inscribed with ‘da ji’, which means ‘great luck’, on its lower section. The body is delicately adorned on each side with four bats flying amidst clouds while the neck of the vase is flanked by two bat-shaped handles each one holding a lingzhi fungus of immortality in its mouth. The Chinese word for bat is ‘fu’, a homophone for the word ‘happiness’.

The lower section is inscribed with ‘da ji’, which means ‘great luck’

The neck of the vase is flanked by two bat-shaped handles

The double-gourd is associated with Daoism, as it is the attribute of the immortal Li Tieguai; it is also symbolic of prosperity and abundance, and in particular, an abundance of children. 

A celadon-glazed vase from the Qianlong period (1736-1795)

A celadon-glazed vase from the Qianlong period, previously the third top lot of the sale, sold for €550,000 (US$621,306), surpassing the selling price of a white and russet jade ‘double-gourd’ vase. With a pre-sale estimate of €100,000 - 150,000, the vase aroused many bidder's interest, and within no time, the price rose to €200,000. The battle between telephone bidders and the bidders in the room continued for 10 bids until it reached €420,000.

Before putting the hammer down, the auctioneer invited more bids from telephone bidders. Sherese Tong, Associate Specialist from Christie's Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art department, then placed a bid of €450,000 for her client which is 4.5 times its estimate price. 

A celadon glaze was applied over a very white (low iron) porcelain body

Building on the achievements of the early Ming dynasty imperial kiln, the potters of the Kangxi reign perfected a particularly delicate celadon glaze to be applied over a very white (low iron) porcelain body. The new celadon glaze for porcelain was further modified in the Yongzheng period to produce an even more finely textured and slightly bluer pale celadon glaze, and small adjustments continued to be made in the Qianlong reign.

The shape and decoration of the vase have their origins in the Song dynasty celadons from the Longquan kilns. Longquan celadon wares continued to be extremely popular during the Yuan dynasty and into the early Ming dynasty.

An imperial yellow embroidered satin ‘Twelve Symbol’ dragon robe, Qing dynasty (1796 - 1820)

A golden dragon can be seen in the middle of the robe flying admist clouds

The imperial yellow "Twelve Symbol" dragon robe from the Qing dynasty realised an even higher price. The pre-sale estimate of the robe is €80,000 - 120,000 due to the fact that there is a stain on the left sleeve, which the auctioneer also reminded the bidders of. Although the stain is not quite visible in pictures, the auction house states that it might be a repair mark.

The bidding started at €65,000 and immediately ignited an intense competition. After 28 bids, the hammer was put down at €480,000 for a bidder who placed a commission bid before the auction commenced. The robe realised over €580,000, six times its estimate price. 

A gilt-bronze figure of Guhyasadhana Lokeshvara, Yongle Period

The figure was hammered down at €750,000

The king of the sale only appeared towards the end- a gilt-bronze figure of Guhyasadhana Lokeshvara from the Yongle period. The figure was estimated at €50,000 - €80,000 and sold for €910,000. In fact, Christie's Art d'Asie sales yesterday was also dominated by Buddhist figures. 

The figure bears an incised Yongle reign mark

The figure became part of a Dutch private collection in 1946. Beginning in 1993, it was exhibited in the Tropenmuseum in Amsterdam and was returned to the collection last year. Although it is only 10cm in height, quality of the gilding is indisputable. The base also bears an incised Yongle reign mark.

Bronzes in the Tibeto-Chinese style produced during the reign of Emperor Yongle in the first quarter of the 15th century and bearing his reign mark, are highly distinguished for their unsurpassed craftsmanship, overall refinement and gracefulness.

Top four lots

Rare Statue De Guhyasadhana Lokeshvara en Bronze Dore 
Chine, Dynastie Ming, Marque Incisee a Six Caracteres Et Epoque Yongle (1403-1424)

Lot no.: 208
Height: 10cm
Provenance: Dutch private collection, within the family since 1946.
Estimate: €50,000 - 80,000
Hammer price: €750,000
Price realised: €910,000


Exceptionnelle Robe Imperiale en Soie Brodee Des Douze Symboles a Fond Jaune, Longpao 
Chine, Dynastie Qing, Fin De L'epoque Qianlong (1736-1795) - Debut De L'epoque Jiaqing (1796-1820)

Lot no.: 100
Width: 137cm;Length: 210cm
Provenance: Acquired in the early 1900s on the French art market, thence by descent in the family.
Estimate: €80,000 - 120,000
Hammer price: €480,000
Price realised: €586,000

Rare Et Important Vase en Porcelaine Emaillee Celadon a Decor Moule 
Chine, Dynastie Qing, Marque Moulee a Six Caracteres en Cachet Et Epoque Qianlong (1736-1795)

Lot no.: 126
Height: 35cm
Provenance: Previously from a French private collector who received it as a gift in 1952 in Hanoi, Vietnam, thence by descent to the present owner.
Estimate: €100,000 - 150,000
Hammer price: €450,000
Price realised: €550,000

Important Vase Couvert 'double-gourde' en Jade Blanc Et Rouille 
Chine, Dynastie Qing, Epoque Qianlong (1736-1795)

Lot no.: 45
Height: 20cm
Provenance: French private collection, in the family since late 19th century.
Estimate: €150,000 - 200,000
Hammer price: €440,000
Price realised: €538,000

Auction summary

Auction house: Christie's Paris
Sale: Art d'Asie
Sale date: 12 June 2019

Lots offered: 240
Sold: 176
Unsold: 64
Sale by lots: 73%
Sale total: €7,867,750