Is half a loaf better than no loaf at all? Cut down vase coming up at Tennants


Tennants cut down vase

Is half a loaf really better than no loaf at all? This conundrum is brought to mind by a Chinese wucai porcelain vase which is coming up for sale at Tennants (Leyburn, Yorkshire) during their two day Spring Fine Art Sale (March 20/21).

The vase is old, no doubt, and it is suggested it is ‘probably Wanli period’. Of square section, baluster form with mask handles, moulded and painted with dragons, It even boasts a fitted stand. Lot 71 has, nevertheless, been cut down at some point in a doubtless troubled history.

To us, it looks distinctly odd. Aesthetically, it has lost all form and balance and is so obviously cut down that is positively unsettling just to look at! That having been said, it is estimated at £1,500-2,000 and doubtless somebody, somewhere will buy it. And quite possibly for rather more than the estimate.

There are approximately 60 Chinese lots in the sale. We have chosen a reticulated famille noire vase (Lot 102) as our current Object of Desire. The highest estimate for a Chinese lot in the sale is for Lot number 889: an unusual Chinese Imperial polychrome decorated Incense Stand thought to emanate from Shaanxi Province, probably 15th/16th century. The catalogue describes its ‘square top above a red lacquered pierced frieze, raised on cabriole legs with red lacquered pierced spandrels and raised on a later ebonised square base, 60cm by 60cm by 85cm.’ The bibliographic reference ‘See Edwards (Curtis) Traditional Chinese Furniture p.198′ is supplied. It is estimated at £8,000-12,000.


Tennants Lot 889 Imperial decorated Incense Stand

When size doesn’t matter . . . chopped down Wanli vase rises to the occasion

Gloucestershire auctioneers Chorleys were pleasantly surprised at the end of last week when an object they had found lying around in a local farmhouse rather exceeded its estimate of £300-500. What was apparently a Wanli blue and white jar, with a 100 boys design, soared to £22,000 amidst frenzied bidding in the room and on the internet. Only it wasn’t. It hadn’t always been a humble jar . . .  Chorleys admit that it ‘started life’ as a vase. Its truncated status did not, however, deter the bidders which puts a whole new complexion on the phrase ‘with all faults’ . . .

wanli at chorleys

And it wasn’t the only high performer in the sale. We previously chose as our Object of Desire, on this site, a most unusual blue and white fishbowl. Almost certainly 18th century, it romped home at £18,000.

blue & white fish bowl at chorleys

We wrote last week about the collection of photographs of the Pekin riots in 1912. They made a respectable £550 – a good buy for somebody as they enjoyed serious historical importance.