Living room lamp is rare treasure

20th November 2020

The living room lamp of a London family has sold for £35,000 at auction after it was identified as an early 18th century vase.

The rare Chinese crackle-glazed moonflask sat on a windowsill in Cadogan Square for decades before it was brought to be valued by Woolley and Wallis in Salisbury, where it was recognised as being nearly 300 years old. Stripped of its lampshade and fittings, the vase was sold in the Fine Chinese Paintings and Works of Art auction on 7th December with a starting price of £10,000 (lot 121).

“The vase was made during the relatively short reign of the Yongzheng Emperor, between 1723 and 1735,” explained Asian Art specialist, John Axford. “Yongzheng was a great admirer of antiques and during his reign the Imperial kilns of Jingdezhen developed very sophisticated monochrome wares to emulate those produced hundreds of years earlier.”

Known as Ge ware, the crackle-glaze effect has traditionally been dated to the Song dynasty (10th – 12th century AD), although scholars now suggest this may in fact have started life during the 14th century. Standing at half a metre tall, the vase is an impressive example of Chinese monochrome porcelains but has sadly been broken in the past, hugely affecting its value.

“If the vase was perfect and marked for the Yongzheng emperor then we might be looking at a potential value closer to £500,000,” said Axford. “This is probably why it ended up as a lamp; it’s not unusual for large, decorative vases to be used as lamps and some pieces have only survived because they were repurposed in this way, only to find that their value becomes more significant as markets and fashions change.”

The lamped vase was acquired by wealthy Armenian businessman, Dikram Ouzounian, over 40 years ago as a statement piece for his London home and it has stayed in the family since his death in 2011.  Continued Axford, “The moonflask has been a recognisable part of family life for the Ouzounians for many years, but the time has now come for it to be returned to its original state and to return to its new home in China where it started life three centuries ago.”

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