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Yorkshire’s £2.6m toast to Asian series

26 November 2012Written by Roland Arkell

The toast of November’s clutch of Asian art sales was not to be found in London or Salisbury but in Leyburn.

Tennants posted a new house record when this Chinese blue and white porcelain bottle vase shot to £2.6m (plus 18.5% buyer's premium). It was discovered recently by Rodney Tennant on a routine house visit - the vendor said it had escaped damage when it had been knocked over by the cat.

The magnitude of the price was a surprise.

While the 15½ (39cm) vase, superbly decorated in the 'heaping and piling' technique characteristic of earlier Ming period pieces, carries a Yongzheng (1722-1736) mark to the base, the auctioneers had concluded it was probably a copy from the reign of Daoguang (1820-50). Their estimate for the sale on November 16 was £20,000-30,000.

But the belief that it was an early 18th century piece prompted a 10-minute bidding battle between the room and eight phone lines and, eventually, two head-to-head phone bidders.

 

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Above: a detail showing the Yongzheng mark to the base of the £2.6m vase.

 

The hammer price of £2.6m matches that of a 14th century Yuan dynasty porcelain double-gourd vase sold by Woolley & Wallis in July 2005 (the first £1m-plus price in the UK regions) and represents the 12th time the seven-figure barrier - a once unimaginable milestone for salerooms outside London - has now been passed by Britain's provincial salerooms.

Not forgetting the £43m bid at Bainbridges of Ruislip in November 2010 for a Qianlong vase (a transaction that ATG understands is yet to be honoured), the current undisputed provincial record stands at £3.4m for a Qianlong spinach-green jade buffalo on its original gilt-bronze stand sold by the Salisbury rooms in 2009.

Tennants' previous house record was £400,000 bid for Sean Keating's Ulysses off Connemara in March 2007.

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