Forgotten for decades in an attic an exquisite Chinese porcelain jar made for Emperor Chianlong was sold instead of 16.2 million euros at an auction by Sotheby’s yesterday in Paris. According to the house, his price is “an absolute record for a work sold by Sotheby’s in Paris since the opening of the auction in foreign auction houses in 2001 and a record for a porcelain sold in France”.
With initial estimates ranging between 500,000 and 700,000 euros, the amount rose rapidly due to Asian bidders’ bids. The vase was eventually awarded to a young Chinese who was present at the auction whose identity was unknown, according to the News Agency, drawing on information from Reuters and AFP.
In perfect condition, the jar presents a colorful decoration dominated by pink shades. It features a peculiar scenery, full of deer and cranes, but also pine trees, the summits of which cover mist. Below its base there is a six-character “distinctive” emperor, Chianlong, who ruled in China from 1736 to 1796.
“This jar is the only one known to the world in such detail. It’s an important piece of art, it’s like discovering a caravan, “said auctioneer Olivier Valmeier, an expert in Asian art.
The masterpiece was accidentally discovered in the attic of a cottage family home where he stayed for several decades along with other Chinese babybugs.
“I do not like the jar, nor did it like my grandparents. His colors are too intense, “explained the owner, who had contacted Sotheby’s three months ago, where the object arrived in a shoe box.
The object was probably acquired in France in the late 19th century. Inside a Japanese perfume, also stored in the attic, an invoice dating from the Paris World Exhibition of 1867 was found. Only four yancai ruyi vases, as they are called, with this type of idyllic landscape with deer and cranes, are documented in writing in the production of the imperial workshops in Jindsysen.
In 1765, a pair is destined for the Buddhist Kiosks, in the special apartments of Chillong. In 1769 two vases were ordered as a birthday gift for the Emperor. A similar style, however, without cranes, is available at the Guimet Museum in Paris.
The scenery depicted in the vase seems to be inspired by the realm of imagination, but it carries a lot of evidence from the imperial park for hunting in the Milans region, one of the summer residences where the emperor lived in times of heat.
The animals and the plants depicted are full of symbolism: deer is synonymous with happiness, cranes, flying winged horses personify old age, green pine symbolizes eternal life and linghi mushroom, immortality.
The imperial objects of the Chianlong period are sought after. A porcelain pink bowl was sold $ 30.4 million in April by Sotheby’s in Hong Kong. An imperial stamp of the Chianlong period was sold 21 million euros in December 2016 in Paris, marking a world record.