Qianlong period dragon moonflask sees increase of 156% on estimate

A rare blue and white dragon Qianlong moonflask was the top lot at Sotheby's fine Chinese ceramics and art auction in London on November 6.

It made an impressive increase of 156% on its estimate, realising £770,500 ($1.2m) despite being valued at £200,000-300,000 ($321,500-482,250).

dragon moonflask quianlong
The shape of the flask is likely to have been derived from earlier Ming era examples

The flask dates to the Qianlong period (1711-1799) and features the dragon motif that defines much of the imperial artwork of the era.

The piece recalls 15th century blue and white Ming designs, which were much in vogue in 18th century China - with artisans even developing a painting technique to recreate the mistakes prevalent on earlier pottery.

A blue and white Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) dish, featuring a depiction of a fish swimming amid aquatic plants, made £674,500 ($1.1m), up 237% on a £200,000 ($321,500) high estimate.

Yuan fish dish sothebys
Fish feature prominently on porcelain from the Yuan period

The design is a classic of the period, with a number of Yuan era dishes featuring similar decoration held in the collections of a number of museums - including the Idemitsu Museum of Arts in Tokyo and the National Museum of Iran in Tehran.

A gilt bronze figure of Shyama Tara, dating to the early 15th century, realised a 341% increase on an estimate of £100,000-150,000 when it sold for £662,500 ($1.1m).

Tara, a Buddhist deity, is worshipped as a liberator from the cycle of samsara.

At least nine statues of Shyama Tara are known to have survived from the Yongle period (1403-1424), indicating that she was a goddess favoured by the emperor.  

A gilt bronze figure of a Shakyamuni Buddha, dating to the Yongle era, realised $30.5m at Sotheby's Hong Kong sale in October of this year - a world record for a Chinese sculpture.

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