Unique Item of the Week... the £625k Qianlong vase

The highest price for a UK regional auctioneer in 2010 was achieved in Dorchester UK with the sale of a very unique vase, earlier this month.

Not only that, it was also the highest value achieved at auction by an umbrella stand.

The Qianlong mark and period vase - decorated in underglaze blue and copper red, depicting a continuous mountainous landscape - sold for a remarkable £625,000.

A Qianlong mark and period vase,
sold for �625k  

Carrying a Qianlong (1735-1795) seal mark, the vase's body is impressed with the emperor's characters at the depicted 'mountain's peak', and also bears the passages of Anhua.

More than just a unique vase, this item can easily be regarded as a historic artwork.

Its painterly design is reminiscent of - and may be derived from - Chinese artist Wang Hui's (1632-1717) scrolls depicting the Emperor Kangxi.

According to the vase's vendor, its provenance is equally singular, and could have once been a furnishing in Embley Park, Hampshire, home of Florence Nightingale.

Only the vase's latter use as an umbrella stand, resulting in a hairline crack, prevented it from realising a seven-figure sum according to experts at the auctioneer Duke's.

Nevertheless, the vase still far exceeded its £500,000 estimate.

Bids came via five phone lines from London and Hong Kong, with participants from Mainland China in the room. The winning bidder participated by telephone.

Elsewhere, the former 'most valuable umbrella stand in the world' sold at Christie's, last year.

An umbrella holder which had stood in their entrance of Yves Saint Laurent and Pierre Berge's Paris apartment was an unexpected hit at an auction of the couple's belongings.

It smashed its €300-500 estimate, selling for an impressive €109,000.


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