Qianlong vase

Qianlong white nephrite vase carved as a section of bamboo culm, £550,000 at Woolley & Wallis.

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Neville Lawrence (1891-1959), a captain in the Coldstream Guards and later a banker and stockbroker, began collecting Chinese hardstones after receiving a piece as a gift from his wife. Most of the pieces he owned were bought from Spink & Son, London in the immediate post-war years.

His son Murray Lawrence (1935-2021), an alumnus of Trinity College, Oxford and one-time chairman of Lloyd’s of London, continued to collect after retirement.

The most highly rated of the pieces offered on November 14 was a Qianlong vase naturalistically carved as a section of bamboo culm. Carved from a white nephrite of exceptional quality, likely sourced from the rivers of Khotan in Xinjiang, it represents the best of the jade craftsmanship of the Qing period. A vase in bamboo-form (associated with virtue and endurance) was usually for holding flowers but could also be used as a brush pot on a scholar’s desk.

Acquired from Spink prior to 1959, it was estimated at £50,000-80,000 but went on to bring £550,000. The Lawrence collection brought a hammer total just shy of £2m with the Woolley & Wallis’ quintet of sales in Salisbury taking place over November 14-16 bringing £5.6m.