Home Interior Design Once used to grow hyacinths, this humble Chinese pot sold for over $150,000 at a UK auction, nearly 200 times its high estimate

Once used to grow hyacinths, this humble Chinese pot sold for over $150,000 at a UK auction, nearly 200 times its high estimate

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Sworders Fine Art Auctioneers in Essex, England, sold a Chinese blue and white ceramic planter to a Chinese buyer for almost 200 times its high estimate of $610, bringing the hammer down to almost $120,000 (about $155,550, with buyer’s expense), and making it the highlight of the May 19 Asian Art sale. Its later owners used it to grow hyacinths, but even earlier, in the Qing dynasty (1636-1912), it was probably put into use for displaying flowers and bonsai at court.

The hexagonal piece measures nearly two feet wide and features scenes of the Eight Daoist Immortals, a frequent subject in Chinese art, literature and popular culture, who can give life or destroy evil. (They are also sometimes called the Eight Genii or, more colorfully, the Eight Drunken Immortals, as they are sometimes described as heavy drinkers.) He bears the mark of the Kangxi Emperor, Shengzu of Qing, who reigned from 1662 to 1720 , making him the oldest ruler in Chinese history.

A Chinese blue and white porcelain planter, Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Courtesy of Swords.

According to the auctioneer, a strikingly similar piece can still be found today in the Forbidden City in Beijing.

Blue and white porcelains are arguably the most recognizable ceramic object, with cobalt ore first imported from Persia. They gained popularity during the Yuan dynasty (which lasted from the 13th to 14th centuries) and remained prominent during the Ming (14th to 17th centuries) and Qing (17th to 20th centuries) periods.

A Chinese blue and white porcelain planter, Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Courtesy of Swords.

It is not known exactly when the piece came into the hands of the seller’s family, since their ancestors served as missionaries in China in the late 19th century and brought back valuable items. The seller’s parents also worked at Sotheby’s in the 1950s and 1960s, according to the auctioneer.

The sale took place at the Swirders auction house in the village of Stansted Mountfitchet, around 35 miles north of London. Other items on offer that day included a Chinese bronze bodhisattva which fetched approximately $74,000 and a Chinese bronze incense burner which fetched nearly $36,000.

Chinese porcelains have recently reached stratospheric prices at auction. A Qing period bowl measuring just four inches in diameter (featuring naturalistically colored flora and fauna) fetched $25.4 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in April, and a blue and white Ming vase sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in 2011 for $21.6 million after a 10-minute auction. competition.

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