Underlining this evolving nature of the market, it was a 11in (27cm) Communist era dish that led Sworders’ Asian Art sale in Stansted Mountfitchet on November 6. The unexpected winning bid was £28,000 (plus 23% buyer’s premium).
Decorated in the famille rose palette with a scene of girls dutifully repairing fishing nets watched by a young boy in dungarees, it included an inscription praising communal effort.
It was signed by the artist Tu Juqing and dated 1960 – the time of the controversial economic and social campaign known as the Great Leap Forward. Tu Juqing, who was based at the government-controlled Art Porcelain Factory in the city of Jingdezhen, specialised in this kind of propagandist subject matter.
Perhaps a decade ago the £200-300 estimate, agreed by the private vendor in Hampshire, would not have proved quite so inadequate, but bidding last week quickly soared into five-figures. The successful Chinese buyer, familiar to the saleroom, is based in Canada.
More specialist regional sales of Asian art take place this week.