An extremely rare blue and white dragon and lotus vase from China's Qing dynasty has sold with spectacular results as part of a Toronto auction on November 25.
The piece is believed to have been created in 1738 under the Qianlong Emperor as a commemorative item to mark three years since the death his father, the Yongzheng Emperor. Consigned by the royal family's descendants, it sold for $3m - am impressive 900% increase on its $180,000-300,000 estimate.
The price achieved makes it the most valuable Qing dynasty vase ever sold at auction. With the piece reportedly bought by an "overseas buyer", the sale is likely a further example of the large number of Chinese artefacts that are heading back to Asia as a result of the nation's increasing wealth.
The vase featured a total of four dragons, three of which represent the years since the Yongzheng Emperor's death; in Chinese imperial tradition, three years was the length of time in which Chinese emperors kept the traditions of their predecessors alive. The fourth dragon is said to represent the Qianlong Emperor himself and leads to the conclusion that the vessel may have actually been used by the new ruler.
The magnificent piece came with impeccable provenance, having been consigned by the Manchu Aisin Gioro family - descendants of the last Qing dynasty. The family has held a low profile in Thailand since the dynasty was replaced by the Republic of China in 1912.
Sign up to Paul Fraser Collectibles' free weekly newsletter for all the latest news from the Chinese art market as soon as it happens.