One of four woodblock prints signed by Ding Liangxian – £85,000 at Lyon & Turnbull.

Enjoy unlimited access: just £1 for 12 weeks

Subscribe now

The name appears on a number of prints from Suzhou, Jinchang district dated to the period c.1735-50.

Four ink and colour on paper prints signed by Ding Liangxian were offered together as part of the Fine Asian & Islamic Works of Art sale at Lyon & Turnbull (26% buyer’s premium) on November 4 from an English collection.

Each measuring 15 x 12in (37 x 30cm), they depicted arbutus blooms and a praying mantis; an arrangement of antiquities; a pomegranate, magnolia and bird; and latterly a composition depicting the three winter months (from top to bottom January, February, and March) of ‘Song of the Twelve Months in the Tune of the Tea Picker’s Song’.

Although rare in the market outside mainland China, these can be compared to other examples in major museums. The Met and the British Museum have other prints from the Tea Picker’s series, the lyrics and imagery of each stacked-up scene seemingly based on a popular drama of the time.

Some idea of their rarity was provided by a hammer price of £85,000, way above the estimate of £1200-1800.

Sold at £62,000 (estimate £10,000-15,000) was a pair of circular jade table screens. Each finely carved with scholars in river landscapes to a celadon stone with some russet skin, each stood 19in (48cm) high on two-part zitan stands carved with bats flying between ruyi-head clouds. They came for sale by descent from an old Belgium collection.


Pair of Qianlong celadon jade and zitan table screens – £62,000 at Lyon & Turnbull.

Tipsy scholar

Choice porcelain entry was a blue and white ‘drunken scholar’ tripod incense burner (tonglu) made during the reign of Chongzhen (1627-44), the last emperor of the Ming.

The sides of the vessel are finely painted with an inebriated scholar reclining and napping on a cloth mat with an overthrown cup aside while an attendant fans a wine ewer on the stove.

It came by descent from the family of Lawrence Edward Coleman and, estimated £1500-2000, took £25,000 in this London auction.