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An imperial ‘Yangcai’ Famille-Rose porcelain vase that was discovered in an attic was sold in auction for €16.18m at auction in France by Sotheby's.
2 Mins

Vase Discovered in Attic Sells for £16.2m

Lewis Findley
Lewis Findley

Record Chinese Vase Sales

It's happened again but this time, not 150 times over. Chinese Porcelain is becoming a huge market.

We were introduced to this new phenomenon when a Chinese altar vase went 150x its estimate and came in at $250,000!

But what's causing it? Well, one of the reasons behind the record hammer price was the revelation that it was commissioned by the Qing Court who intended to use the vase for ceremonial purposes in palaces and temples.

What's remarkable is the fact it spent 30 years on the former owner's mantelpiece!

However, does that story compare to the one behind this antique Chinese vase auction record?

Discovered in a French Attic

As far as auction stories go, this one is certainly up there. 

It all started when the vase was discovered in a French attic and an eagle-eyed individual spotted the marks of the Qianlong Emperor (1736-1795). It was taken to be valued when it was verified as a vase that dates back to the Qianlong era.

Even though more Qianlong vases are becoming more frequent in auctions, what sets this vase apart is its decoration which is one of a kind - 'Yangcai’ Famille-rose porcelain.

Trivia - This is a new record set for Chinese porcelain sold at auction in France after it sold for €16.2m.

The Vase

The vase was produced by the Jingdezhen workshops in response to a request from the Qianlong court. The vase was eventually left to the grandparents of the vendor.

The term ‘Yangcai’ means ‘foreign colours’ and it's used to describe the glazing of the vase. It was not uncommon for the decoration of vases from this period to contain western-styled colours and either made in pairs or unique to themselves.

The body of the vase contains references to health and longevity through the use of animals, trees and cranes.

Trivia - During the auction, a huge bidder erupted for around 20 minutes which enabled the vase to sail past its estimate of €700k.

Final Words

It's not uncommon for vases of this nature to be made in pairs. Despite the on-going murmurs surrounding its plausibility, this vase remains completely unique. 

As our attention turns to the badly-named sequel 'Hunt for the second Yangcai' ensues, raid your attics, scour your mantlepieces and turn your garages upside down and see what you could potentially find.

Rarity is part of the CARD system used to determine the quality of antiques, Collectables and Vintage items. If you are interested in the world of antiques then take a look at our guide: Buying Antiques in Auction guide

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