The £36,000 Qianlong (1736-95) mark and period lotus vase was one of 14 lots consigned from Balcarres House in Fife, home to the Lindsay family and the Earls of Crawford and Balcarres since 1595.
Decorated with a delicate floral design against a vibrant yellow ground, the 11in (27cm) vase is of a type made in the third quarter of the 18th century at the Imperial Workshops in the Forbidden City. Both the colour palette (perfected by Jesuit missionaries in the early 18th century) and the decoration betray the cultural exchange of the Qing court.
At Balcarres for several generations (it appeared in a number of inventories), it was probably among the collection of Chinese literature and works of art amassed by the 25th Earl (1812-80) and his son the 26th Earl (1847-1913) and now distributed among several British institutions.
As suggested by the estimate of £3000-5000 at the auction on May 13, it was not in perfect condition. Holes to either side of the neck of the vase suggest it once had a pair of bronze dragon-shaped handles, similar to those that adorn two pairs of enamel vases of this type in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei.
The Asian art auction calendar has been much changed by Covid restrictions with the traditional May series of sales in London postponed until later in the year. However, in the wake of a series of successful ‘live online’ sales during the lockdown period, Lyon & Turnbull chose to keep the date in the diary.