A rare blue and white vase spotted under a Midlands table could sell for £30,000 at auction – despite cracks aplenty and visible glued repairs.
But it could have been so much more. In good condition the large Chinese lantern vase would have fetched £700,000 at auction, according to Hansons Auctioneers.
Despite its ailing appearance, Charles Hanson, owner of Hansons, realised the potential of the 18inch high pot thanks to its Chinese pedigree.
He said: “It’s bursting with Eastern promise. It dates back to the period of Emperor Qianlong, circa 1735-99, which makes it a rarity and potentially extremely sought after. It was languishing under a table in a living room. I spotted it during a routine house visit I undertook in Leicestershire to assess a range of antiques. In good condition its auction estimate would have been in the region of £600,000 to £700,000.”
The vase, lot 182, is due to be sold in Hansons’ Fine Art Auction on December 7 with a guide price of £15,000-£25,000. Featuring contrasting shades of cobalt blue, the lantern vase is decorated with a herd of deer, including a red stag and blue doe, amid a mountainous landscape with pine trees and rock work. The neck of the vase has parallel bands depicting cranes and clouds, Lingzhi prunus, fruiting peach branches and ruyi head motifs. Use of copper red in the decoration make it exceptional.
Mr Hanson said: “The vase was probably manufactured in the imperial kilns under the direction of Tang Ying during the early years of Qianlong’s reign, circa 1740, which would make it nearly 300 years old. The landscape is reminiscent of the work of Wang Hui, circa 1632-1717. A similar pair of vases were exhibited at the Minneapolis Museum of Art in America in 2004.
“Though the vase we have found has been broken and glued back together, it is still exceptional thanks to its subtle combination of underglaze blue and copper red pigments. Also, dense flecking in blue and red gives the impression of grey on two of the deer and on the trunk of the vase a more pinkish colour is achieved. This demonstrates both the virtuosity of the painter and the skill of the kiln master in the perfect firing of the copper red pigments.
“The Chinese are extremely proud of their artistic heritage and the advanced skills their ancestors perfected centuries ago. Consequently, finds like this often spark strong bidding from the Far East as wealthy collectors like to repatriate items to their homeland.”
The Chinese lantern vase is due to be sold in Hansons Auctioneers’ Derbyshire Fine Art Auction on December 7. To find out more, please email [email protected].