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It is the perfect expression of current Chinese taste with a recent exhibition at the National Palace Museum, Taipei titled Stunning Decorative Porcelains from the Ch'ien-lung Reign focusing upon a number of pieces of this type in the collection.

Quite how an acknowledged imperial masterpiece reached Middlesex is unknown but it probably left China soon after the end of the Second Opium War in 1860 when the Summer Palace was sacked by British troops. It had been acquired in the 1930s by the late uncle of the vendor who lived in a bungalow in Pinner, North West London.

The vendor had no knowledge of its true worth.