The gilded blue artifact was initially valued at £150,000 ($186,000), according to Drewatts, the English auction house that handled the sale.
The seller inherited the vase from his father, a surgeon, who bought it in the 1980s for a few hundred pounds, Drewatts said in a statement. The seller was unaware of its value, and so kept it in the kitchen, where it was spotted by an expert.
The silver cranes hold objects like flower baskets that are associated with Taoism, a philosophy of which the Qianlong Emperor was a devotee Credit: Courtesy of Drewatts
It was made for the court of the Qianlong Emperor — the sixth emperor of the Qing dynasty — and would have been crafted using innovative heating techniques to achieve its blue, gold and silver coloring, Drewatts added.
The vase would need to have been fired at a temperature of nearly 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit (about 1,200 celsius) to achieve the cobalt blue shade, while the interior turquoise tint and the exterior gold and silver colors would have been created in a kiln suited for enamels , the auction house said.
The Chinese name for this kind of vase is “tianqiuping,” which translates to “heavenly globe vase” and describes its spherical shape. Drewatts said there have not been any other tianqiuping vases documented with the same designs in gold and silver, making it extremely rare.
The vase bears a distinctive Qianlong-era six-character seal mark on its base. Credit: Courtesy of Drewatts
Mark Newstead, a specialist consultant for Asian ceramics and artworks at Drewatts, said in the statement that bidding interest came from China, Hong Kong, the US and the UK.
“The result shows the high demand for the finest porcelain produced in the world. A fabulous result and we are privileged to have sold this at Drewatts,” he added.
A number of other rare artifacts recovered from obscurity have earned high sale prices recently.