To shock in the saleroom, bidding for lot 390 at Andrew Smith & Son of Itchen Stoke on September 10 – a 15in (39cm) high blue and red ‘lotus’ vase with a Yongzheng (1722-35) mark – opened at £500,000.
The piece is in the manner of the early 15th century blue and white porcelain that was so admired by Qing dynasty connoisseurs but adds the underglaze copper-red colour not perfected until the early 18th century.
The successful firing of large pieces of copper-red, first achieved at the imperial kilns in Jingdezhen under supervisor Tang Ying (1682- 1756), probably required numerous attempts before producing a single acceptable example. Similar Yongzheng and Qianlong mark and period wares with the same scrolling lotus decoration survive in major collections.
This vase, in perfect condition, came for sale from a local private consignment without much in the way of family provenance. Bidding was conducted in six-figure increments by three Far Eastern participants – one on the phone, an online bidder who was the underbidder and an agent in the room receiving instructions from a mobile phone who opened bidding at £500,000 and ultimately tendered the winning bid.
With premium of 21% plus VAT added the bill will be over £1.6m – a house record for the Hampshire firm.