Qing imperial jade seal realises 193% increase on estimate

A Qing imperial jade seal was the lead lot of Sotheby's Inscriptions: History as Art sale in New York on March 17, achieving $4.4m.

The price equates to an increase of 193.3% on a valuation of $1.5m.

Qing dynasty jade
The stone is inscribed with four poems by the Qianlong emperor

The piece is inscribed "Da Guan Tang Bao" (Seal of the Great Hall of Observation) and displays a series of four poems by the Qianlong emperor.

An excerpt reads: "Crossing the river to the north on this little boat,

"To stay for two days in the palace, having meditation.

"The flowers in the south are still in bloom,

"The shadows of trees in the summer courtyard grow darker."

The poems were written over a series of five visits by the emperor (1711-1799) to one of his favourite palaces in Yangzhou, southern China. The last is written almost 30 years after the first.

The emperor had a strong social conscience and travelled widely in an effort to take the pulse of the nation. As he writes in one of the poems: "It is essential to comfort the people, and carry out policies."

A Celadon jade seal proved another highlight, realising $1.6m against a $30,000 estimate - an increase of 5,233%.

It's inscribed "Huang Tang Shou Ming Zhi Bao", which translates to "Treasure of the Great Tang who was granted with the Mandate of Heaven".

The seal of the Mandate of Heaven was granted to Chinese rulers throughout history. While this example states that it was made for a ruler of the Tang dynasty (618-907 AD), it is believed to have actually been made during the Ming dynasty (1368-1644).

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