Top Five Lots from Christie’s upcoming sale of Chinese ceramics and works of art

Fragments Of History

From jade bi discs of the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE) to imperial ceramics of the Qing Dynasty (1644 – 1911), the upcoming Christie’s sale brings together some of the finest works of art ever created by Chinese hands. More than half of the 231 lots comprise ceramics. In fact, the top five lots expected to fetch the highest bids are ceramics. Three of these hail from the Qianlong era of the Qing period (1736 – 1795). This is not surprising, considering the Emperor’s lengthy reign (one of the longest in Chinese history) and his immense passion for the arts, especially porcelain. The other two consist of a vase from the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor (father of the Qianlong Emperor), and a vase from the Southern Song Dynasty (1127 – 1279), considered a golden age of Chinese ceramics.

Chinese antique vase
An ion-red decorated blue and white Four-Dragon vase; 1723-1735

Lot 3025
Height: 29.5cm
Estimate: HK$6 million – HK$8 million (S$1.07million – S$1.43 million)
This vase is beautifully proportioned with a slender neck, high shoulders and tapering body. The fine decoration depicts a classic tableau in Chinese mythology: dragons chasing a flaming pearl. The five-clawed dragons indicate imperial patronage, while the flaming pearl represents wisdom. Ergo, the emperor in pursuit of sagely intelligence. The composition is finely balanced, with the subjects accented in iron red against a backdrop of clouds in underglaze blue.

Chinese antique plate
Ruby-backed Famille Rose ‘European Subject’ dish; 1736-1795

Lot 3029
Diameter: 19.3cm
Estimate: HK$6 million – HK$8 million (S$1.07million – S$1.43 million)
During the time of the Qianlong Emperor’s reign, bilateral trade between China and the West flourished. The decoration on this dish seems to sum up the cross-cultural zeitgeist: a European gentleman and lady seated amid large Chinese porcelain vessels, while a boy darts out from behind the gentleman. In the foreground are two glass bottles, a goblet and a jug. The entire scene is rendered in a famille rose palette. The back of the dish, meanwhile, is clad in an exquisite rose-pink enamel.


Chinese antique vase
Famille Rose Boys jar; 1736-1795

Lot 3030
Height: 15.3cm
Estimate: HK$6 million – HK$8 million (S$1.07million – S$1.43 million)
The decoration on this shapely, globular jar is a delight to behold, and cannot fail to lift one’s spirits. In a garden, sixteen boys appear to be engaging in various pursuits. These range from playing musical instruments and holding banners to piggybacking and riding on a hobby-horse. Vivid underglaze blue combines with gentle famille rose hues to animate the proceedings.


Chinese antique vase
Turquoise ground puce enamelled mallet vase; 1736-1795

Lot 3026
Height: 17.8cm
Estimate: HK$ 5 million – HK$7 million (S$890,000 – S$1.25 million)
Two splendid phoenixes, with outspread wings, heads held high and beaks agape, are the subject of this impressive vase. The ultimate symbol of femininity – as opposed to the masculine dragon – these mythical birds are rendered in vibrant pink against a turquoise ground. Finely potted, the vessel has a broad base, rounded shoulder and long cylindrical neck.


Chinese antique vase
Guan-type longquan celadon foliate vase; 1127-1279

Lot 3138
Height: 24cm
Estimate: HK$ 5 million – HK$8 million (S$890,000 – S$1.43 million)
This elegant pear-shaped vase is the only lot in the Top Five to hail from the Southern Song Dynasty. Manufactured at the Longquan kilns, it features an eight-lobed design with a flared mouth and splayed foot. The kilns were famous for producing celadon wares, including those with highly sought-after crackled glazes. Here, the glaze has what the Chinese call the “iron wire and golden thread” effect. This refers to the major crackle lines, which appear black, and a secondary network of finer crackles, which manifest as gingery brown.

Christie’s Important Chinese Ceramics auction
Convention Hall
Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
No. 1 Harbour Road
Hong Kong

27–30 May, 10.30am–6.30pm

31 May, 11:45am (Lots 3001 – 3056)
31 May, 2:30pm (Lots 3101 – 3275)