DORCHESTER saleroom Duke's achieved the highest price for a UK regional auctioneer so far this year when this Qianlong mark and period vase sold at £625,000 on February 11.
The so-called 'lantern' vase is decorated in underglaze blue and
copper red with a continuous mountainous landscape and incised to
the clay with passages of Anhua, visible only when held to the
The base carries a Qianlong (1735-1795) seal mark, but the body
is also impressed with the emperor's characters at the point of the
tallest mountain peak. Such an impressive vase - it measured 18
1/2in (47cm) high - was probably manufactured in the imperial kilns
under the direction of Tang Ying during the early years of
Qianlong's reign c.1740.
The painterly manner in which the landscape is rendered is
reminiscent of the work of Wang Hui (1632-1717) and may be derived
from his masterwork, the series of 12 monumental scrolls depicting
the Emperor Kangxi's Southern Inspection Tour of 1689.
Duke's vendor, from the Isle of Purbeck, believed it was once
part of the furnishings of Embley Park, Hampshire, the home of
Florence Nightingale. But according to the auctioneers, it had
latterly been used as an umbrella stand and had sustained the
Y-shaped haircrack that undoubtedly prevented a seven-figure
Nevertheless, with Duke's predicting a price in excess of
£500,000 in the immediate run-up to the sale, bids were taken from
dealers from London and Hong Kong on five phone lines and others
from Mainland China in the room. The buyer was on the
The price is the second highest achieved by the Dorset saleroom,
overshadowed only by the £1.7m (plus 17.5 per cent premium) bid in
April 2007 for two rediscovered panels of Dominican saints from Fra
Angelico's celebrated 1438-40 high altarpiece for the Church of San
Marco in Florence.
By Roland Arkell
Duke's buyer's premium is 19.5 per cent.