A career diplomat for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Talati was also a talented artist who – between 1945 and her move to London in 1948 – received private tutorials from the classical landscape painter Prince Pu Quan (a great-grandson of the emperor Daoguang, 1820-50, and cousin of the last emperor Pu Yi).
Talati collected scroll paintings throughout her life and bequeathed some to the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Included in the sale was a freehand painting of fruits and vegetables by Wang Xuetao (1903-82).
Similar paintings celebrating the produce of China’s bountiful soils were created by the artist – a student of Qi Baishi – for government-sponsored agriculture fairs in the 1950s. The hammer price of £20,000 at the auction on June 3-4 was at the top end of expectations.
From the same source was a large circular rank badge or buzi embroidered with a front-facing five-clawed dragon which made £3400 (estimate £100-200).
The Qing created a complicated peerage system for royal and noble ranks that was delineated by dress. This particular badge is probably one of the four worn on the shoulders, front, and back of the robe or surcoat of a Daoguang-era qinwang (prince of the blood).
A private Oxford collector with an interest in early pieces was the vendor of the top-selling item of porcelain: a once magnificent 11½in (29cm) Xuande (1425-35) blue and white shallow bowl decorated with eight Indian lotus and eight Daoist symbols.
It had a six-character mark to the rim. Worth a six-figure sum in better order, in smashed and restuck condition it made £9200 (estimate £6000-8000).
Attracting over 750 bidders, the sale totalled £273,000 with an 80% selling rate.