US $ 6.7 Million Chinese Dragon Jar Becomes This Season’s Most Expensive Antique Among Hong Kong Auctions | Auction news | THE VALUE

After sales of other categories such as modern and contemporary art, Chinese painting and calligraphy last week, attention turned to Chinese antiques at Poly Auction Hong Kong.

An 18th century Chinese celadon icing pot sold for HK $ 52.8 million (approx. US $ 6.7 million), with a buyer’s premium. It became the most expensive Chinese antique among “all the autumn auctions in Hong Kong. [this year]”.

The body of the pot is adorned with two dragons dancing among clouds and waves, also known as Canglong jiaozi reference to a father education his son. In 1773, Emperor Qianlong chose his 15th son, Yongyan, to succeed him and prepared him for royalty.

Lot 3501 | Celadon enamel carved dragon pot

Seal of Emperor Qianlong (1735-1796)
Height: 34.6 cm

  • Sotheby’s Hong Kong, November 24-25, 1987, Lot 119
  • A distinguished Asian private collection

Quote on request

Hammer price: HK $ 44,000,000

Sold: HK $ 52,800,000 (approx. $ 6.7 million)

The auction started at HK $ 35 million. After more than 10 offers, the hammer fell to HK $ 44 million. The winning bid went to Albert Du Jibo, senior specialist in the Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Department. for its client with paddle number 1133. In the end, it sold for HK $ 52.8 million (approx. US $ 6.7 million), with buyer’s premium.

There is one piece that resembles all of the stylistic features of this current pot – once in the collections of English art collector Alfred Morrison (1821-1897) of Fonthill House; and the Idemitsu Museum of Arts, Tokyo. In 2014, the dragon pot was sold for HK $ 94 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong.

The specialists at Poly Auction compared the two jars – in terms of decoration, size, glaze color, style and patterns. They were convinced that both pots were made by the same group of craftsmen during the Qianlong period (1735-1796). It was normally drawn in pairs, and it is very likely that such a pair was drawn together.

In 1987, this present jar was sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. The collector’s family kept them for over 30 years.

Dragon pot hammered at HK $ 44million (approx. $ 5.6million)

Albert Du Jibo with the winning auction

Lip brim, with broad shoulders and a tummy that tapers to a foot. The entire pot is evenly covered with a monochrome celadon glaze. Under the glaze, the body of the pot adorned with relief carvings of two dragons dancing among clouds and waves, also known as Canglong jiaozi. Auspicious clouds are paced to accompany the magnificent dragons in the sky, ocean waves rage through the spherical body of the ship below. The bottom of the pot is carved in relief with a six-character seal mark of Emperor Qianlong.

The title of this piece, Canglong jiaozi, is the symbol of a father education his son. From the mid to late 18th century, this image was attributed to the Emperor’s expectations for his successor. Emperors Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong; who ruled from the 17th to 18th centuries, in his most prosperous times, owes his success to insightful eyes for future rulers.

Reigning as the successor to two great emperors, Qianlong faced pressure to select a promising heir. In 1773, the emperor decided that his 15th son, Yongyan, would prepare him for royalty. Later, in 1796, Yongyan was proclaimed the new ruler.

The Current Pot is the embodiment of Qianlong’s efforts as he guided Jiaqing through the hardships of being an emperor and the loneliness that comes with ultimate power. On the jar, the younger and smaller dragon represents Yongyan, while the mighty dragon who looks affectionately at his heir, represents Emperor Qianlong.

Emperor Qianlong (reigned 1735-1796)

A wife of Emperor Qianlong with the future Emperor Jiaqing in her childhood painting (Qing dynasty, 1644-1911) | Palace Museum, Beijing

Lot 3404 | Lotus vase and blue and white pond with handles

Seal of Emperor Qianlong (1735-1796)
Height: 54cm

  • A private Italian collection, acquired in China at the beginning of the 20th century
  • Sotheby’s London, November 12, 2003, Lot 172
  • An important private collection
  • Christie’s Hong Kong, May 27, 2008, Lot 1579
  • The Ten-views Lingbi Rock Retreat Collection, Lot EK340, bought from Eskenazi

Estimate: HK $ 15,000,000 – 22,000,000

Hammer price: HK $ 20,000,000

Sold: HK $ 24,000,000 (approx. $ 3.08 million)

During the Palatial splendor: imperial ceramics and works of art Sale, an 18th century blue and white vase was the most expensive lot.

The auction started at HK $ 12 million. After nine offers, the hammer fell to HK $ 20 million. In the end, it was sold for HK $ 24 million (approx. US $ 3.08 million).

This vase has a broad body, angled shoulders and a long cylindrical neck adorned with two handles. An exterior richly adorned with blooming lotus flowers and lotus leaves, it is painted in various shades of vivid underglaze blue – a definitive feature of Qianlong blue and white porcelain. A six-character reign mark of Emperor Qianlong is inscribed at the base.

Blue and white vase hammered at HK $ 20million (approx US $ 2.5million)

The current lot is distinguished by its representation of a lotus pond. Lotus flowers as a theme on blue and white porcelain are generally seen as clusters of medallions surrounded by organized spirals of branches. The motif became popular under the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) with the proliferation of blue and white porcelain.

Its design won over several Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) emperors, including Qianlong, whose 18th-century reign saw some of the most splendid works. Lotus buds are depicted with intertwined leaves growing upwards. Lotus petals also feature color gradation, which reflects attention to highlights and shadows or European inspiration chiaroscuro painting techniques.

Summary of the auction:

Auction house: Poly Auction Hong Kong


  • Palatial splendor: imperial ceramics and works of art
  • The Great Empire: The Celadon Dragon Jar

Date: December 2, 2021