The unmarked 21in (53cm) rouleau vase, pictured above, is painted with panels of figural scenes and to the neck with flowering chrysanthemum.
It came for sale at the Chinese Works of Art auction at Mallams (22.5% buyer’s premium) in Cheltenham on November 4 by direct descent from the late Hans Calmann. Originally a stockbroker in the family firm in Hamburg, he moved to London in 1937 and set up as a dealer in Old Master drawings.
This vase had been used as a table lamp for years, but fortunately had not been drilled and the fittings were easily removed. It was pitched at a modest £2000-3000 but sold at £26,000.
The square tapered vase with trumpet neck (pictured below) is another form closely associated with this period and much the same impressive size at 21½in (54cm) high.
It has a six-character reign mark to the base and is painted on opposing sides with river landscapes with rows of calligraphy. The latter appears to be the two texts of the Rhapsody on the Red Cliff, masterpieces composed by the beloved Song dynasty poet and statesman Su Shi (1037-1101) in the autumn and winter of 1082. When Su visited it was already rich with historical significance as the site of the famous Battle of Red Cliff, fought there at the end of the Han dynasty in the winter of 208-209AD.
This monumental vase (several others are known) left something to be desired in terms of condition. As well as more minor chips and abrasions there is a very large chip and loss to one lower corner.
Nonetheless, it outstripped the estimate of £8000-£12000 to bring to bring £21,000 at Capes Dunn (20% buyer’s premium) in Stockport on November 3.