A long-forgotten Chinese vase, once sold at auction for just AUD$80 went under the hammer for more than $30 million on Saturday after being discovered in an elderly woman’s country home.
The highly unusual vase with a blue-and-white floral design is visible through the object’s lattice-like body – was made specifically for the , Qianlong Emperor who ruled China for more than 60 years.
This piece was described by Sotheby’s as a “lost masterpiece,” the rare 18th-century artifact spent the last 50 years in a remote house in central Europe surrounded by the owner’s pet cats and dogs, auctioneer said
“It is a miracle that this extraordinarily fragile vase survived half a century in a home surrounded by countless pets,” Chow said in a press statement.
The beautiful “double-walled” item is just one of a handful of similar designs, which were only attempted under the guidance of imperial kiln supervisor Tang Ying in the years 1742 and 1743.
Described by Sotheby’s as a “technical tour-de-force,” the pear-shaped vase is an example of a style of porcelain known as “yangcai,” or “foreign colours,” that saw artisans incorporating Western-style colouration and enamels into their craft.
(Sotheby’s has not specified in which European country the house is located). The owner, who is in her 80s, is believed to have inherited the item.
Mr van Rosenthal recalled uncovering the dust-covered object after being invited by the woman to assess her collection.
“We reached a room with a number of Chinese works of art inherited many years ago,” he said.
“Her four cats walked around freely among these. She pointed out a partly gilded Chinese vase on a cupboard – a cherished object which she knew to be something special and valuable.”
Sotheby’s praises the discovery to Amsterdam-based art consultant, Johan Bosch van Rosenthal who found the vase at a country home.