A 17 century 10in (25cm) gu-form beaker vase offered by Roseberys London on December 5, had a confidence-boosting provenance to a Christie’s Swire sale in 1991 when it was listed as the properly of the TB Walker Foundation in Minneapolis.
Finely worked in a pale celadon stone of even tone with light brown inclusion, the subject matter of nine dragons in meandering clouds, includes both an auspicious number and a reference to the nine sons of the dragon king, the mythological dispenser of rain. Estimated at £4000-6000, but with bids online opening the contest at £30,000, the hammer finally fell at £48,000 (plus 23% buyer’s premium).
Head of department Bill Forrest selected 340 lots for this sale of Asian art. “With such a broad range of Chinese and Japanese material, it was difficult for me to pick any one stand-out lot, however the buyers on the day made their minds up fairly quickly, with fantastic results,” he said.
Also singled out for particular attention was a silk hanging scroll decorated with a landscape in the manner of Zhang Ruitu (1570-1644) and inscribed with verses by Tang dynasty poet Wang Wei. Offers started in the region of £2000 but a there was a full ten minutes of bidding before it sold at an even £100,000. It was consigned from a private collection in South Wales that yielded other scroll paintings sold in the range of £5000-10,000.
The choice porcelain lots in the sale were three famille rose wine cups from the Yongzheng (1722-1735) period which sold over the phone to bidders from China.
A pair of bowls decorated with anhua dragons and painted with lily, peony, orchid, plum blossom sold at £14,000 (estimate £6000-10,000). The subject matter would have been suitable for a retiring official, bestowing upon him a long, happy and restful retirement from his career at the Imperial court, with both the shape of bowls and the underglaze blue six-character Hongzhi marks paying homage to Ming potters.
This lot was followed by a single Yongzheng mark and period conical form bowl painted with a chrysanthemum (representing a life of ease), and orchid (for love and beauty), and purple lingzhi fungus representing immortality and longevity. The three together suggests this cup was a gift meant to bestow sentiments of a long and happy marriage upon the drinker. It took £10,000.