HK$80m Qianlong Yangcai ‘Landscape’ Vase Fails to Sell at Christie’s Hong Kong

On the last day of Christie’s Hong Kong autumn sales week, an HK$80m Yangcai ‘landscape’ vase, Qianlong six-character seal mark of the period (1736-1795), failed to sell at the sale Multifarious Colours - Three Enamelled Qianlong Masterpieces. Of all three Qianlong treasures offered, only one Yangcai ‘hundred deer’ blue-handled vase was successfully sold for HK$45.1m whereas a yangcai ‘brocade-flower’ jar estimated at HK$8m also went unsold at the sale.

Liang-Lin Chen, Specialist, Christie's Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art

The sale featured thee enamelled masterpieces from the Qianlong period, led by an HK$80m Yangcai ‘landscape’ vase. It is painted around the globular body with a continuous scene depicting an elaborate architectural complex with pavilions and a gate, all nestled in a mountainous landscape, with a bridge arching over a flowing river. The other side of the vase detailed with a canopied boat carrying two scholars.

The landscape depicted on the vase shows the scenery of The Jade Spring Mountain (Yuquan Shan), part of the Imperial garden complex in Beijing. It is located to the west of the Summer Palace in Beijing. It is the villa area of the Central Military Commission today so it is not open to the public.

Hong Kong collector Mr. Alan Chuang

The vase first appeared in a London auction in 1976 and it was sold for nearly £4,000, a significant sum back then. Then it was resold at auctions for three times and was formerly in the collection of renowned art dealer Marchant & Son. It now belongs to Hong Kong collector Mr. Alan Chuang. It was expected to fetch HK$80m-120m at the present auction.

The 19cm-tall vase demonstrates exquisite craftsmanship and the size is easy for collectors to put it in a cabinet and to preserve it in a well condition. The bidding opened at HK$60m but stalled at HK$75m. The auctioneer invited both room bidders and telephone bidders to offer high bids but in vain. The yangcai vase failed to meet the low estimate and was bought in.

A Yangcai 'hundred deer' blue-handled vase with a height of 44.5cm was estimated at HK$20m-30m. It is painted in vivid enamels with a herd of deer, spotted hide and dappled white coats, grazing, gambolling and resting in a lush landscape, amidst pine and peach trees, bamboo, lingzhi. The tapering sides set with a pair of stylised dragon handles decorated in blue and yellow enamels.

More generally, deer had a number of other auspicious associations in traditional Chinese culture. Shoulao, the Star God of Longevity, is usually depicted accompanied by a spotted deer, crane, peach and pine tree. Each of these, including the deer, thus represents long life. The theme of ‘a hundred deer’, is therefore an especially potent wish for health, happiness, good fortune, and long life, especially when combined with peaches and lingzhi fungus.

The Qianlong Emperor was also proud of the Manchu heritage and concerned that it might be lost. Hunting may have been enjoyable for the emperor and his retinue, but it was also important for the preservation and development of riding and shooting skills as well as for practice in the organisation and deployment of troops.

The yangcai ‘hundred deer’ vase was sold to Dai Dai’s telephone bidder

The bidding started at HK$16m and attracted around seven bidders offering bids. After the price reached HK$30m, there were only two bidders left in the contest – a room bidder and Dai Dai, Senior Specialist of Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art, Beijing, who represented his client on the phone. The telephone bidder emerged victorious in the bidding battle with a hammer price of HK$38m. The vase was sold for HK$45.1m with premium included.

The final lot of the sale was a 16cm-tall yangcai ‘brocade-flower’ jar, estimated HK$8m-10m. The ovoid jar is painted in shades of bright enamels with numerous flower-heads individually or in groups, floating against a plain background above the recessed base inscribed with the reign mark in the centre.

The decoration on the current jar known as piqiu hua, ‘brocade-flower’ is probably inspired by Japanese design, where roundels representing family emblems known as mon, were a popular motif on lacquers, textiles and ceramics.

The design of overlapping roundels reappeared on Chinese porcelain during the 18th century, when the imperial potters in Jingdezhen adopted the general composition but reinterpreted the mon as finely depicted flower-heads in both the yangcai and doucai palettes.

The auctioneer started the bidding at HK$6.5m but saw lukewarm reception from bidders. As no one offered bids higher than HK$7.5m, the jar was bought in.

An Extremely Rare And Superbly Enamelled Imperially Inscribed Yangcai ‘Landscape’ Vase
Qianlong Six-character Seal Mark In Underglaze Blue And Of The Period (1736-1795)

Lot no.: 2802
Height: 19.1cm

  • The collection of H.P. Korf Esq., England
  • Sold at Christie’s London, 26 February 1973, lot 126
  • Sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 29 November 1978, lot 303
  • S. Marchant & Son, London
  • Kusaka Shogado & Co, Tokyo
  • A Japanese private collection
  • Sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 27 October 1992, lot 155
  • Sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 2 May 2000, lot 643
  • The Alan Chuang Collection, Hong Kong

Estimate: HK$80,000,000 - 120,000,000

A Fine Magnificent And Exceptionally Rare Yangcai 'Hundred Deer' Blue-handled Vase, Hu
Qianlong Six-character Seal Mark In Underglaze Blue And Of The Period (1736-1795)

Lot no.: 2801
Height: 44.5cm
The collection of a Scottish noble family, acquired prior to the 1920s
Estimate: HK$20,000,000 - 30,000,000
Hammer price: HK$38,000,000
Price realised: HK$45,100,000

A Fine And Extremely Rare Yangcai ‘Brocade-Flower’ Jar
Qianlong Six-character Seal Mark In Underglaze Blue And Of The Period (1736-1795)

Lot no.: 2803
Height: 16cm
Sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 1 May 2001, lot 562
Estimate: HK$8,000,000 - 12,000,000

Auction summary

Auction house: Christie’s Hong Kong
Sale: Multifarious Colours - Three Enamelled Qianlong Masterpieces
Sale date: 28 November 2018
Lots offered: 3
Sold: 1
Sale total: HK$45,100,000