Chinese Collector Takes Home Two Qianlong Rarities for HK$136m

Christie’s made a strong opening on the last day of its Hong Kong spring sales, headlined by HK$130m single-lot sale featuring a Doucai and Famille Rose ‘Anbaxian’ Vase from the Qianlong period (1736-1795). It continued to deliver strong performance in the next sale Three Qianlong Rarities as all three lots were successfully sold. The top two lots were sold to a Chinese collector for a total of HK$136m.

The first lot coming up for sale was a blue and white moonflask from the Qianlong period. It had been in the collection of Edward T. Chow, a legendary antiques collector. It was then sold at Christie’s Hong Kong for HK$73.4m in 2004.

The flask is skilfully painted in rich underglaze cobalt blue with a large circular panel containing an agricultural scene on each side. On either side of the neck are bat-shaped handles each one holding a lingzhi fungus of immortality in its mouth. 

An image on one of the plaques shows a farmer standing on a tangba, harrow, drawn by a water buffalo, while another shows the farmer ploughing, reflecting Qianlong’s wishes for prosperity and harmony in the society.  

The flask was hammered down for HK$60m and sold for HK$69.85m (premium included) to a Chinese collector in the salesroom.

The next lot was a Qianlong Yangcai yellow-ground ‘boys’ vase, decorated in bright enamels with a continuous scene of the ‘Hundred Boys’ celebrating the Spring festival, the children depicted in animated groups performing a lion dance, playing with dragon and phoenix puppets, playing music from drums, cymbals and horn, lighting a firecracker and carrying auspicious emblems.

The subject of boys or of children was very popular on decorative arts of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Traditionally, they represent the wish for abundant offspring, or in particular, sons, and wealth. This theme can be found on several Qianlong vases, similarly rendered as on the present lot, with boys at play within a garden scenery against a mountainous backdrop.

There were mainly two bidders showing strong interest in the vase when the bidding started at HK$30m. One was the buyer who just bought the moonflask while the other was a gentleman sitting in the front row in the salesroom. The auctioneer put the hammer down at HK$57m and sold the vase for HK$66.5m to the Chinese collector who made another successful bid after taking home with the moon flask.

The last lot of the sale was a pair of gilt-decorated and enamelled vases, inscribed with six-character seal marks of the Qianlong period. It has an illustrious provenance as it previously belonged to T.Y Chao, a prominent tycoon of a shipping company.

The one on the left is T.Y Chao

During the Qianlong reign, the technique and idea of porcelain imitating other materials reached its zenith. The present one took inspiration from vessels that were produced in repousse metalwork whereas the stylised kui dragons and cicada motifs are in imitation of those on early bronzes.

The bidding started at HK$15m and soon ended at the hammer price HK$20m. This pair of vases were sold for HK$24.1m to the telephone bidder represented by Sherese Tong, a specialist in Chinese ceramics and works of art. The sale netted a total of HK$160m with three Qianlong rarities.


Lots sold at Three Qianlong Rarities

A Magnificent Blue and White Moonflask
Qianlong Six-character Seal Mark in Underglaze Blue and of the Period (1736-1795)

Lot no.: 2751
Height: 59cm

  • Edward T. Chow Collection, sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 3-4 May 1994, lot 172
  • An Asian private collection
  • Dragon & Phoenix – 800 Years of Patronage, sold at Christie’s Hong Kong,
  • 1 November 2004, lot 902

Estimate: HK$60,000,000 - 80,000,000
Hammer price: HK$60,000,000
Price realised: HK$69,850,000

A Fine and Superb Yangcai Yellow-ground ‘Boys’ Vase
Qianlong Six-character Seal Mark in Iron Red and of the Period (1736-1795)

Lot no.: 2752
Height: 38.8cm

  • Sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 1 November 1999, lot 399
  • Sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 27 October 2003, lot 641

Estimate: HK$50,000,000 - 80,000,000
Hammer price: HK$57,000,000
Price realised: HK$66,475,000

An Exceptionally Rare Pair of Gilt-decorated and Enamelled Vases
Qianlong Moulded and Gilt Six-character Seal Marks and of the Period (1736-1795)

Lot no.: 2753
Height: 10.2cm

  • The Wah Kwong Collection
  • T.Y. Chao Private and Family Trust Collection, sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong,
  • 18 November 1986, lot 115
  • Sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 28 November 2012, lot 2200

Estimate: HK$20,000,000 - 30,000,000
Hammer price: HK$20,000,000
Price realised: HK$24,100,000

Auction summary

Auction house: Christie’s Hong Kong
Sale: Three Qianlong Rarities - Imperial Ceramics From An Important Private Collection
Sale date: 2018/5/30
Lots offered: 3
Sold: 3
Sold by lot: 100%
Price realised: HK$160,425,000