The Harry Garner Reticulated Vase, which was once sold for just £44, fetched HK$70m at Sotheby’s HK

Sotheby’s The Harry Garner Reticulated Vase session this morning resulted in a middling HK$70m after premium.

The Chinese relic, dating back to the Qing dynasty, went to a single bid of HK$60m on the phone with Sotheby's Asia CEO Kevin Ching.

Yet, it was a significant leap from 1954, when the relic first came onto the market and was sold for just £44 at a Sotheby’s sale in London.

The vase was provided by avid art collector Sir Harry Garner (1891-1977), who had made substantial donations to the British Museum including the valuable Ru stoneware cup stand, N. Song dynasty. He also recognised a pair of matching vases now known as the David Vases, one of the most renowned Chinses porcelains in the world previously owned by his close friend Sir Pervical David (1892-1964).

Ru stoneware cup stand, N. Song dynasty

David Vases

The Harry Garner Reticulated Vase was later acquired by Henry Knight, a famed Dutch collector in the 20th century, and had not been available on the market since. 

It wasn’t until late last year that the vase was discovered in a rural house in Europe by art consultant Johan Bosch van Rosenthal.

With a presale estimate of HK$70m to HK$90m, this double-walled yangcai vessel was among the most sophisticated pieces of porcelain ever conceived during the Qianlong period (1736-95). It was produced under the supervision of Tang Ying (1682-1756), an acclaimed porcelain superintendent who worked for three Qing Emperors.

Decorated with Rococo-inspired floral motifs on a ruby graviata ground, the vessel carries an inner blue-and-white vase in Xuande-style.

It’s peach patterns in cobalt blue can be glimpsed through an openwork lattice in celadon green, which harks back to the Bronze Age during the Eastern Zhou period. Meanwhile, the gilt dragon handles attached to either side of the neck draw references from Chinese archaic jade carvings.

On the base, enamelled in turquoise, is an underglaze-blue six-character seal mark reserved in a white square.

Celadon reticulated vases of this type were first produced during the Southern Song dynasty in Guan Kiln, one of the five most famous kilns at the time. It was later copied in Longquan Kiln in the early 13th century.

Given its complex production process, yangcai reticulated vase as such was produced only in the seventh and eighth year of the Qianlong reign, namely 1742 and 1743.

The opulently decorated vase was kept in Qianqinggong, aka the Palace of Heavenly Purity, which is the largest hall of the Inner Court in the Forbidden City where the Emperor held court with his Grand Councils.

The Harry Garner Reticulated Vase is akin to the Yamanaka vase, which was sold for HK$150m in 2018, more than doubled the closing price of the present lot, which stands at HK$70m.

Yamanaka vase

Lot 1 | A Magnificent and Highly Important Yangcai Reticulated Vase Seal Mark and Period of Qianlong

Matching Record dated to the 12th day of the 8th month in the 7th year of the Qianlong Period (corresponding to 1742)


  • Collection of Sir Harry M. Garner (1891-1977)
  • Sotheby's London, 25th May 1954, lot 91 (£44)
  • Bluett & Sons, London, inventory no. 3396
  • Jacob Stodel, Amsterdam and London, acquired from the above, 8th November 1954 (£80)
  • Collection of Henry M. Knight (1903-1970), The Hague, Holland
  • Thence by descent

Estimate: HK$70,000,000 – 90,000,000
Sold for: HK$70,406,000

Auction house: Sotheby’s Hong Kong
Sale: Harry Garner Reticulated Vase
Sale date: 11 July 2020