Chinese vase could make six figures

A rare and ‘sublimely beautiful’ Chinese vase discovered during a routine home visit by an antiques expert could sell for a six-figure sum at auction.

Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons Auctioneers, made the find at a property in Surrey and, after careful assessment, he thinks it could achieve £100,000 under the hammer.

Charles Hanson with Chinese Qianlong vase
Credit Mark Laban/Hansons

He said: “It’s an incredible find, a rare double-gourd vase bearing a Qianlong seal mark which dates it to the period 1735-1799. The owner had no idea it could be valuable. Apparently, when they moved into the property, they purchased all the contents and the vase came with it.”

The item will be offered in Hansons’ October 14 Fine Art sale with an estimate of £20,000-£30,000. However, demand for Chinese objects could see it surpass that. For example, on September 30, a 19th-century Chinese altar table soared past its £3,000-£4,000 guide price to achieve £55,000 at Hansons. This was due to the rarity of the Chinese wood it was crafted from.

Charles, a specialist in Oriental works of art, said: “We regularly see exceptional results for Chinese ceramics and works of art and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see this sublimely beautiful piece achieve something approaching £100,000.

Charles Hanson with Chinese Qianlong vase
Credit: Mark Laban/ Hansons

“There has long been strong demand from wealthy Chinese collectors to repatriate items such as this which pay homage to China’s extraordinary ceramics’ heritage.”

The rare pale green ground and gilt ‘lotus’ double-gourd vase, with Qianlong seal mark, features a hemispherical lower bulb rising to a rounded upper section, which narrows at the rim. It is painted with stylised lotus scrolls with iron-red outlines. The sections are divided with a central narrow key-fret band in pink enamel and the six-character seal mark is painted in gilt on a turquoise ground.

Charles said: “Double-gourd vases of this colour scheme and design are rare and no examples have recently sold at auction. A slightly smaller coral ground and gilt ‘lotus’ double-gourd vase with a Jiaqing seal mark in iron-red was sold at Bonhams London  in 2014, but the style of painting was slightly different.

“Another more elaborately decorated Jiaqing turquoise ground vase of similar size was sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in 1980 and a deeper coral example went under the hammer with Christie’s Hong Kong in 2002. The fact that we cannot find exact comparisons underlines the potential rarity of this find. It could surprise us all. It’s sure to attract keen interest from the Chinese market. Chinese emperors were great patrons of the arts. They encouraged and supported the creation of fine ceramics to adorn their palaces. This was certainly true of the Qianlong Emperor (1711-1799), a capable and cultured ruler who reigned from 1735 to 1796. In 1796 he abdicated in favour of his son, the Jiaqing Emperor, but retained ultimate power until his death at 87 in 1799.”