The most highly regarded piece of Chinese porcelain offered during the recent round of Asian sales was seen in Edinburgh where Lyon & Turnbull sold this blue and white dragon charger for £355,000.
It came for sale from a private collection in Dumfriesshire. The
client's uncle, a Japanese prisoner-of-war, had lived and worked in
Japan after disarmament until moving to a large house in Yorkshire
and later to Scotland in the 1950s.
Although catalogued as 19th or 20th century and estimated at
£3000-5000 at the sale on June 4, this 20in (51cm) dish with a
Qianlong mark, was thought by at least some of the eight phone
bidders to be of the period.
The Yongzheng (1723-35) and Qianlong (1736-95) emperors were
keen collectors and scholars and much amused by the classic blue
and white wares of the Ming dynasty that were often copied.
The decoration here is centred by a coiling five-toed dragon
encircling a flaming pearl.
The buyer contributing more than a third of a £1m sale total was
Also at the Lyon & Turnbull sale was a woman's summer dragon
robe or long pao, embroidered in gold and silver. It was
entered for auction by the great-granddaughter-in-law of the
Glasgow shipping magnate and art collector Leonard Gow
Under the strictly regulated code established under Qianlong,
only the emperor could wear a robe displaying all 12 of the ancient
symbols of authority. Each symbol had a specific meaning and when
appearing together represented the emperor's authority and
However, this strict adherence to custom relaxed towards the end
of the Qing dynasty, and it is known that the Empress Dowager Cixi,
who named herself regent and essentially ruled China during the
Tongzhi and Guangxu Emperor's reigns, wore robes bearing all 12
It is thought this long pao was designed for her
The auctioneers took it to the US - promoting it alongside a
sale at 'sister' saleroom Freeman's - and it was a client who had
seen it on display in Philadelphia who bought it at £60,000
"I am absolutely thrilled to hear the result," said the vendor.
"I have had it hanging in my wardrobe for 40 years, just managing
to stop the children chopping it up or wearing it as fancy dress.
At Christmas, when I heard that Lyon & Turnbull had sold a
similar robe, it inspired me to get in touch and I am so glad I
This week's ATG printed newspaper features a round-up of the
latest Asian art sales.
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