Two examples of fine oriental art donated by a Midlands family fetched a total of more than £1 million when they went under the hammer at a London auction.
The rare items of Qianlong pottery were sourced by the Knowle branch of world-famous auctioneers Bonhams and were sold at a specialised sale of Chinese art at the firm’s Bond Street saleroom.
The sale achieved over £11.5 million from the 420 works on offer. There were bids from around the world from the room, online and by telephone.
Items sent to auction by the Knowle office were a unique vase, dating from the 17th century, and an equally rare flask.
They were both offered for sale by the surviving relatives of a private collector.
The vase, almost a foot high, was listed as a “blue and white garlic-head joined lotus bottle from the Qianlong Imperial period.”
It was the top item in the sale and achieved £679,650. The decoration of intricate lotus blossoms growing from the same stem which adorned the vase was extremely rare.
Experts claimed it was only one of a few similar pieces in existence and this was mirrored by the price it made at the sale.
The piece’s motif traditionally was said to “commemorate prosperous marriage” and the rarity of this feature would suggest that the vase was a special imperial commission, according to auction experts.
The other Knowle item sold at the auction was a rare blue and white moonflask of the Qianlong period, which was sold for £421,250.
The 18-inch high piece was only the second known example found of its kind and dates back to the 18th century.
The stunning item came from an English private collection, having been acquired by the owner’s grandfather, in the late 19th or early 20th century.
The moonflask is inspired in form and decoration by early Ming Dynasty examples which the Palace Museum in Beijing has on show.
Sarah Shirley-Priest, director of Bonhams Knowle, said: “Our team in Knowle contributed over £1 million to the Chinese and Japanese art sales in London.
“Both were outstanding sales and I believe that the £1 million in locally sourced objects represents a record for this office in one day.”
Colin Sheaf, Bonhams’ deputy chairman and head of Asian art, said: “Last year we were concerned that the political transition in China would impact on the art market. This sale comprehensively demonstrates that the Chinese art market is back to form with record prices.”
Asaph Hyman, director of fine Chinese art at Bonhams, added: “We are delighted that connoisseurs of Chinese art from all over the world recognised the beauty and the rarity of what was on offer and this was reflected in the very strong prices achieved.”