The sale result of Sotheby’s Important Chinese Art came as a surprise to many. A double gourd vase from Yongzheng period, as featured on the catalogue’s cover, was passed in the end. In contrast, a yellow and green enamelled blue and white lotus vase from Qianlong period, estimated at US$60,000 – 80,000, was hammered down at US$920,000 (over 15 times of its estimate) and became the most expensive lot. The 2nd and 3rd top lot were a blue and white ewer from Yongzheng period and a bronze figure of a buffalo from Western Zhou dynasty.
The top lot is a yellow and green enamelled blue and white lotus vase from Qianlong period. Starting at US$48,000, the bidding went raucous from the very beginning and the price soon soared to US$380,000. The pace slowed down a bit afterwards and there were at least four telephone bidders fighting over this vase. When the bid rose to US$520,000, auctioneer decided to raise the bid increment to US$20,000. The bid further went up to US$640,000, two telephone bidders left the bidding war but the remaining bidders were still very determined. The vase was hammered down at US$920,000 (over 15 times of its estimate) and fetched US$1,116,500 with buyer’s premium.
The vase is in a pear-shaped body with a slightly compressed belly, rising to a waisted neck and flared mouth, painted in deep underglaze-blue tones. Yellow and green enamelled porcelain first appeared in Yongle kiln in Ming dynasty and continued to be in production in later period. It has been a popular kind in the market.
The second one is blue and white ewer from Yongzheng reign in Qing dynasty, carrying an estimate of US$50,000 – 70,000. The vase is potted with a broad cylindrical body molded with two ribbed fillets between two registers of molded chrysanthemum petals, rising to a rounded shoulder and waisted neck with a bulbous mid-section and flaring gently to a broad spout. A similar one to this vase is now housed in the Palace Museum in Beijing and they share striking resemblances in both shape and pattern. This blue and white ewer was hammered down at US$770,000, slightly higher than its estimate. It was sold for US$936,500 with buyer’s premium.
The third one is a bronze figure of buffalo from the Western Zhou dynasty, embodying the characteristics of Zhou sculpture. A number of buffalos of this type are believed to have been used as stands or feet for large vessels. This bronze figure of buffalo was estimated at US$150,000 – 250,000 and fetched US$732,500 with buyer’s premium. When it went to auction at Sotheby’s New York in 2011 spring, it carried an estimate of US$60,000 – 80,000 and was sold for US$134,500 with buyer’s premium.
A Rare Yellow and Green Enamelled Blue and White “Lotus” Vase. Qianlong Seal Mark and Period.
Lot no.: 25
Estimate: US$60,000 - 80,000
Hammer price: US$920,000
Price realized: US$1,116,500
A Rare and Magnificent Blue and White Ewer. Yongzheng Seal Mark and Period.
Lot no.: 19
- Nagel Stuttgart, 12th November 2004, lot 1570.
- European Private Collection (by repute).
- Nagel Stuttgart, 5th November 2010, lot 1239.
Estimate: US$500,000 - 700,000
Hammer Price: US$770,000
Price realized: USD$936,500
A Rare Bronze Figure of A Buffalo. Western Zhou Dynasty.
Lot no.: 72
Provenance (consolidated by The Value):
- Yamanaka & Co., London.
- Collection of Mrs Mary Cohen.
- Sotheby's London, 14th June 1970, lot 55.
- Collection of J.T. Tai.
- Sotheby's New York, 22nd March 2011, lot 39.
Estimate: US$150,000 - 250,000
Hammer price: US$600,000
Price realized: US$732,500
Auction house: Sotheby’s New York
Sale: Important Chinese Art
Sale no.: N09674
Sale total: US$12,975,000
No. of lots: 252
Average price per lot: US$69,385
Sell-through rate: 74%
(All prices realized have included buyer’s premium unless specify otherwise)