A Chinese table lamp found languishing in the hallway of a house on the Isle of Wight has sold for an incredible £47,800 at Duke’s Auctioneers in Dorchester.
The 18th century vase, dated from the reign of the Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799) and was decorated with buddhistic lions in underglaze blue and red, a technically difficult process highly sought after by mainland Chinese collectors.
It was spotted during a routine home visit on the Isle of Wight by Oriental specialist at Duke’s, Andrew Marlborough.
“I saw the vase on top of an old corner cupboard in the hallway being used as a table lamp and could hardly believe it. On closer inspection, it was true – I was looking at a fabulous vase from the reign of Emperor Qianlong (1711-1799)” explained Andrew.
Ceramics from this period are highly sought after at auction being produced during the ‘golden age’ of the arts in China when the country was at its wealthiest. The Emperor was known for his scholarship and patronage of the arts and was determined to improve the Royal Imperial Collections by commissioning fine jade carvings, manuscripts and detailed painted porcelain, all of which are now rare and incredibly desirable.
The vase however was unmarked and the base had been drilled to accommodate an electrical wire, converting it into a lamp base. ‘During the course of the pre-sale viewing, there was some speculation that the drill hole may have removed the Imperial reign mark’ says Guy Schwinge, partner at Duke’s – “The irony is that if the vase had not been drilled and turned into a lamp base, it could easily have fetched £100,000. If the Imperial reign mark was still intact, the vase would have sold for more than £500,000!”.
Despite this, the rare combination of the red and blue decoration and the age of the vase, ensured that bidders were in strong form. The vase sold for £47,800 to a mainland Chinese collector. A battery of telephone bidders from around the world battled with internet bidders and over thirty Chinese buyers in the room to secure the lot.
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