This Wanli mark and period wucai wine ewer made HK$14.5m (£986,395) at Sotheby’s.

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Hot on the heels of a mammoth Asian series in New York, Sotheby's launched their latest spring crop of sales in Hong Kong.

The four-day series, which ran from April 7-10, featured over 1200 lots of Contemporary art, Chinese ceramics and objects, jewellery and watches. It produced the now commonplace multi-million dollar totals and string of blockbuster prices and ended up surpassing the previous month's New York tally when it chalked up a premium-inclusive HK$1.05bn ($134.3m/£71.4m).

Contemporary Chinese art has been the new hot ticket and fastest area of growth for the past couple of years and Sotheby's added more fuel to that fire, setting a new record in terms of total, at a premium-inclusive HK$214.5m, and for an individual work when Xu Beihong's Put down your Whip, realised HK$64m (£4.35m). It is discussed in this week's Art Market on page 33.

But earlier works of art and ceramics were not eclipsed, sales in this arena achieved more than twice the paintings' total at HK$451m.

A single-owner collection consigned from Paris helped to produce this figure, with results like the HK$20m (£1.36m) paid by Hong Kong dealer Chak's Company for a Yongzheng mark and period famille rose altar vase, but there were strong results throughout the three sales.

They included the 93/4in (25cm) high Wanli mark and period wucai decorated wine ewer pictured above that was purchased by Littleton and Hennessy Asian Art for HK$14.5m (£986,395).

This piece, which was once part of the British Rail Pension Fund holdings, is traditionally thought to have been given by Queen Elizabeth I to her personal chaplain Bishop Parry (1561-1616).

If this is so, it would make it one of the very first pieces of Imperial porcelain to have arrived in England.

By Anne Crane