Cracks cost vase owners £685k: Rare Chinese ornament should be worth £700k… but has slumped in value because of its poor condition
A couple found out that the old Chinese vase languishing under a table at their home could be worth £700,000.
But they were then told it might only fetch £15,000 because it is so badly cracked.
An expert discovered the rare blue and white lantern vase during a house visit in Leicestershire to assess a range of antiques.
It dates from the rule of Emperor Qianlong between 1735 and 1799.
The rare blue and white lantern vase could be worth £700,000
Charles Hanson, the auctioneer who examined the vase, said that in mint condition it would have fetched between £600,000 and £700,000 at auction.
But because it has numerous cracks and glued repairs, the 18in high pot is more likely to fetch between £15,000 to £25,000.
The vase was accidentally broken when it was knocked over during a hunting party in the 1950s.
It will be sold at Hansons’ Fine Art Auction in Etwall, Derbyshire, next Monday.
Mr Hanson said: ‘It dates back to the period of Emperor Qianlong, circa 1735-99, which makes it a rarity and potentially extremely sought after. It was languishing under a table in a living room.
‘I spotted it during a routine house visit I undertook in Leicestershire to assess a range of antiques.
The vase was accidentally broken when it was knocked over during a hunting party in the 1950s
‘In good condition its auction estimate would have been in the region of £600,000 to £700,000.’
Featuring contrasting shades of cobalt blue, the vase is decorated with a herd of deer, including a red stag and blue doe, amid a mountainous landscape with pine trees and rocks.
The neck of the vase has parallel bands depicting cranes and clouds, Lingzhi prunus, fruiting peach branches and ruyi head motifs.
Mr Hanson added: ‘The vase was probably manufactured in the imperial kilns under the direction of Tang Ying during the early years of Qianlong’s reign, circa 1740, which would make it nearly 300 years old.
‘The landscape is reminiscent of the work of Wang Hui, circa 1632-1717. A similar pair of vases were exhibited at the Minneapolis Museum of Art in America in 2004.
The old Chinese vase dates from the rule of Emperor Qianlong between 1735 and 1799
‘Though the vase we have found has been broken and glued back together, it is still exceptional thanks to its subtle combination of underglaze blue and copper red pigments.
‘Also, dense flecking in blue and red gives the impression of grey on two of the deer and on the trunk of the vase a more pinkish colour is achieved.
‘This demonstrates both the virtuosity of the painter and the skill of the kiln master in the perfect firing of the copper red pigments.
‘The Chinese are extremely proud of their artistic heritage and the advanced skills their ancestors perfected centuries ago.
‘Consequently, finds like this often spark strong bidding from the Far East as wealthy collectors like to repatriate items to their homeland.’