Qing clair-de-lune bottle vase with a six-character Yongzheng mark, $350,000 (£277,000) at Freeman’s Hindman.

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Estimated at $1500-2500, bidding accelerated - sometimes in huge increments - to reach $350,000 (£277,000).

The pale blue hue of clair-de-lune is one of the most treasured Qing monochrome glazes and was reserved exclusively for imperial porcelains.

The colour, inspired by the celebrated Ru wares of the Song dynasty, appears first in Kangxi porcelain and remained popular throughout the Qing dynasty. However, it reached its aesthetic peak in the reign of the emperor Yongzheng (1722-35).

Known in the West by the term clair-de-lune (meaning moon light) which it was given by 19th century French connoisseurs, in China the colour is simply called tianlan (sky blue).

This 6in (15cm) bottle vase (the form is known as a changjingping) carried a six-character Yongzheng mark to the base and clearly multiple bidders believed it was of the period. Only three such examples are known, including one in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.


The six-character Yongzheng mark to the Qing clair-de-lune bottle vase that made $350,000 (£277,000) at Freeman’s Hindman.

Business on the rise

The vase came for sale from the family collection of Charles Fleischmann III, Indian Hill, Ohio, whose great-grandfather founded the Fleischmann Yeast Company in Cincinnati - the largest producer of yeast in the world - in 1868. It was found tucked away in a kitchen cabinet.