A rare Turquoise-Ground Famille-Rose ‘Hui Mountain Retreat’ Teapot and Cover sold for $3,490,000 over a top estimate of $500,000 at Sotheby’s Chinese art sales in New York. The Qianlong Seal Mark and Period teapot was chased by multiple clients in the room and on the telephone. Bidding began at $250,000 before quickly jumping to $1 million. This wonderful work of art, one of only two known, is an ode to Emperor Qianlong’s adoration of tea; the front features a figure, possibly the Qianlong Emperor, being served tea while admiring an open handscroll. The reverse is an imperial poem, entitled Jihuiquan peng zhulu ge (Brewing Tea by Hui Swing), written by the Emperor himself following a visit to the Hui Spring during his Southern Inspection Tour.
Angela McAteer, Head of Sotheby’s Chinese Works of Art Department, New York noted: “The contest amongst more than ten bidders that pushed a 250 year-old teapot to $3.5 million reminded us of auction’s unique magic. The piece, having been enjoyed by an American collector for decades, was just one of a number of works that soared over pre-sale expectations after drawing bidding from determined collectors. As we saw throughout our two days of sales, the Chinese Art market remains robust, with major collectors deeply engaged in owning the finest examples of the country’s artist heritage.”
Over the course of two days, Sotheby’s New York sales of Chinese Art brought a total of $14,748,350 – well over the $7.4/10.8 million estimate.