Qing dynasty spinach-green nephrite jade imperial seal that belonged to the Qianlong Emperor (1736-95) – estimate €300,000-400,000 at Beaussant Lefèvre at Drouot in Paris.

Image copyright: BeaussantLefèvre/Drouot

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Discovered during an inventory valuation by the auction firm, the 3½ x 3½ x 2¾in (9 x 9 x 7cm) seal, which has a provenance to the collection of René Georgi (1871-1961), has been in a family collection for almost a century.

Carved as a seated lion playing with a ball, it has an estimate of €300,000-400,000.

White or celadon nephrite were favoured materials for imperial seals during the Qing dynasty. However, after its victory in the war with Altishahr in the 18th century the court increasingly used spinach-coloured nephrite which came from this region of western China.

Seals have been used for over 2000 years in China but the Qianlong Emperor was a profilic owner, with 1800 examples in his possession. Prints of his seals are recorded in an album titled Manual of seals of the Emperor Qianlong and a version which is kept in the Musée Guimet in Paris includes a print of the seal to be offered by Beaussant Lefèvre.