Chinese vase makes €170,000 in Sheppard’s auction

The pre-auction estimate for the blue and white vase was just €2,200-€3,300

A blue and white Chinese vase sold for €170,000 – more than 60 times the estimate – at Sheppard's auction in Durrow, Co Laois, on Thursday. The 18th-century bottle vase was made in China during the reign of the Emperor Qianlong.

The vendor was a private Irish collector and the buyer, who bid via the internet, was overseas. The vase, which had a pre-sale estimate of just €2,200-€3,300, is decorated with an image of the mythical fenghuang (phoenix) bird which is a symbol of good fortune and rebirth in Chinese culture.

Earlier in the sale, a Qing period imperial gilt bronze urn with raised five-claw dragon decoration with an estimate of €20,000-€30,000, also from a private Irish collection, sold to a buyer in Beijing for €90,000. The urn had been the focus of attention during a visit by a Chinese delegation to Sheppard’s saleroom for a private viewing ahead of the auction.

The results confirm ongoing strong demand from Chinese collectors for items from the country’s imperial past, many of which were shipped to Europe in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and were acquired by wealthy Irish households.


The Asian art section of the sale took place on the final day of the three-day auction which also featured furniture, paintings, silver, rugs, wine and collectibles.

Although the saleroom appeared to be deceptively quiet at times, the auction was broadcast live on the web and attracted extensive bidding via telephone and online from clients worldwide.

More than 1,800 lots went under the hammer and 83 per cent sold. Sheppard’s said that 38 per cent of winning bids had been submitted online.

Austrian portraits
Among the non-Chinese lots were three royal portraits from 18th-century Austria, described as from the workshop of Martin van Meytens and each estimated at €20,000-€30,000. They all sold for a combined total of €100,000.

A portrait of Maria Theresa, Queen of Hungary and Croatia and Arch Duchess of Austria, made €30,000; a portrait of Joseph II as a young man made €34,000; and another portrait of Joseph II, this time as Emperor of Austria made €36,000. It is understood that the queen’s portrait has been acquired by a luxury hotel in Ireland while the other two pictures were acquired by a bidder in Vienna.

A pair of French Empire-period bronze and gilded figural candleabra made €16,500 (€15,000-€25,000); an art deco gilt bronze and ivory sculpture of a woman playing a harp, titled Inspiration , by TH Somms, €3,600 (€3,000-€5,000); a late 18th- or early 19th-century Russian carved gilt-wood framed pier mirror, €2,800 (€3,000-€5,000); and an ebony-and-ivory model of the Brussels Atomium, €900 (€1,000-€1,500).
For full auction results see