Qianlong Ceramics Led Sotheby’s Single-Owner Sale of Imperial Porcelain

Sotheby’s offered ten exquisite porcelain works of art in a single-owner sale Imperial Porcelain from a Distinguished Private Collection, which took place on the last day of Sotheby's Hong Kong spring sales. Dominating the top three were all porcelain from Qianlong period, including a Blue and White ‘Dragon’ Moonflask, a Famille-Rose ‘Quail’ Vase and a Copper-Red ‘Dragon’ Double-Gourd Vase.

The 30.2cm-tall Blue and White ‘Dragon’ Moonflask is outstanding for its bold and dynamic dragon motif, which are inspired by early-Ming prototypes yet mark a departure from their predecessors. Dragons had rarely appeared on moonflasks before the Qianlong period, although a few examples from the early 15th century exist, such as a Xuande flask painted with a three-clawed dragon.

Though it is not from a collection of prominent art collector, the moonflask has a reliable provenance as it once sold at Christie’s Hong Kong in 1987. It is preserved in a good condition, only little worn-out on the flared rim.

Estimated at HK$15m-20m, the moonflask started at an opening bid of HK$10m and hammered down for HK$18.5m. It sold for HK$22.3m with premium included.

Ranking on the second was an Enamelled Famillie-Rose ‘Quail’ Vase, the neck flanked by a pair of iron-red ruyi handles with gilt highlights. The 34cm-tall vase has a turquoise-enamelled base centred with a white cartouche inscribed in iron-red enamel with a six-character seal mark. It is also notable for its carefully observed details, from the rendering of the quail’s feathers to the differing textures of the rocks and the numerous blossoming flowers occupying the garden.

‘Bird and flower’ paintings was a favourite subject of the great imperial connoisseur, collector and amateur painter, Zhao Ji, the Huizong Emperor. Quail, one of the important early examples of these vibrant nature scenes, could be attributed to the Southern Song painter Li Anzhong.

This genre was brought back to life during the Yongzheng reign under the directorship of Tang Ying, the superintendent of the Imperial kilns at Jingdezhen. He continued to work closely with the Qianlong Emperor and inspired craftsmen to create increasingly lavish wares suited to the Emperor’s taste.

The bidding of the vase started at HK$4.5m and saw heat bidding atmosphere as bidders showing strong interest. The ‘Quail’ vase was hammered down for HK$14.5m, far exceeding its estimate HK$7m-9m. It sold for HK$17.5m to a bidder in the room.

The third top lot was a Copper-Red ‘Dragon’ Double-Gourd Vase, 31.3-cm tall, inscribed with in underglaze blue with a six-character seal mark of Qianlong. It has an illustrious provenance, being once sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in 1975 and was later kept in the collection of a renowned collector T.Y. Chao.

The lower bulb is finely painted in copper red with a ferocious five-clawed dragon shown in full frontal position encircling a 'flaming pearl', flanked by a pair of dragons striding amidst lingzhi cloud swirls and bats above a band of crashing waves skirting the foot, the upper bulb decorated with two further dragons in mutual pursuit of a 'flaming pearl' amidst clouds and bats.

Offered an opening bid of HK$5m, the double-gourd vase was hammered down for HK$8m at its low estimate. It sold for HK$9.7m with premium included to a bidder in the room.


Auction results (sorted by price realized)

A Finely Painted and Rare Blue and White 'Dragon' Moonflask
Seal Mark and Period of Qianlong

Lot no.: 3204
Height: 30.2cm

  • Christie's Hong Kong, 13th January 1987, lot 529.

Estimate: HK$15,000,000 - 20,000,000
Price realized: HK$22,320,000

A Rare and Brilliantly Enamelled Famille-Rose 'Quail' Vase
Seal Mark and Period of Qianlong

Lot no.: 3205
Height: 34cm

  • Sotheby’s New York, 13th June 1984, lot 226.
  • Sotheby's Hong Kong, 20th May 1986, lot 130.

Estimate: HK$7,000,000 - 9,000,000
Price realized: HK$17,520,000

An Extremely Fine and Rare Copper-Red 'Dragon' Double-Gourd Vase
Seal Mark and Period of Qianlong

Lot no.: 3203
Height: 31.3cm

  • Sotheby's Hong Kong, 17th November 1975, lot 222.
  • Collection of T.Y. Chao (1912-1999).
  • Sotheby's Hong Kong, 18th November 1986, lot 71.

Estimate: HK$8,000,000 - 12,000,000
Price realized: HK$9,720,000

A Blue and White Barbed 'Floral' Charger
Ming Dynasty, Yongle Period

Lot no.: 3207
Size: 37.8cm

  • Collection of Jeronimo Martinez.
  • Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 24th November 1987, lot 30.

Estimate: HK$3,500,000 - 4,000,000
Price realized: HK$5,040,000

A Rare Blue and White Barbed 'Lotus Pond' Charger
Yuan Dynasty

Lot no.: 3208
Size: 39.8cm

  • Collection Sir John Home, Bt., acquired in Cairo, by repute.
  • Collection of Sir David Home, Bt.
  • Sotheby’s London, 15th December 1987, lot 139.

Estimate: HK$4,000,000 - 6,000,000
Price realized: HK$4,920,000

An Extremely Rare Celadon-glazed 'chrysanthemum' Bowl
Mark and Period of Yongzheng

Lot no.: 3201
Size: 18.4cm

  • Christie's Hong Kong, 26th April 2004, Lot 943.

Estimate: HK$1,200,000 - 1,800,000
Price realized: HK$1,250,000

A Large Celadon-glazed Carved 'Chilong' Vase
Qing Dynasty, Kangxi Period

Lot no.: 3210
Size: 75.8cm

  • Sotheby's Hong Kong, 22nd May 1984, lot 190.

Estimate: HK$1,000,000 - 1,500,000
Price realized: HK$1,125,000

A Rare and Large Blue and White 'Dragon' Charger
Mark and Period of Yongzheng

Lot no.: 3202
Size: 50.5cm

  • Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 15th November 1983, lot 241.

Estimate: HK$6,000,000 - 8,000,000

A Superb and Rare Blue and White 'Boys' Bowl
Ming Dynasty, Chenghua Period

Lot no.: 3206
Size: 22.5cm

  • Sotheby's London, 23rd May 1972, lot 127.
  • Sotheby's Hong Kong, 31st October 1974, lot 69
  • Sotheby's Hong Kong, 14th November 1989, lot 25.Estimate: HK$6,000,000 - 8,000,000


A Rare Biscuit-Enamelled Sancai 'Dragon' Dish
Mark and Period of Kangxi

Lot no.: 3209
Size: 36cm
Estimate: HK$1,500,000 - 2,000,000

Auction summary
Auction house: Sotheby’s Hong Kong
Sale: Imperial Porcelain from a Distinguished Private Collection
Sale date: 2018/4/3
Lots offered: 10
Sold: 7
Unsold: 3
Sold by lot: 70%
Sale total: HK$61,895,000