The £150,000 bid that secured the large ‘Hundred Boys’ Zitan brushpot at Sworders of Stansted Mountfitchet on April 29 was a stunning five-times-top-estimate price.
Rarity, craftsmanship, subject matter, material, artist, marks, seals, period and Imperial connections are all factors that can affect desirability and price. An Imperial piece from the Emperor’s personal collection created by a leading artist at the zenith of production during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (1736-95), carved in spinach green or white jade is about as good as it gets, although rare pieces in other materials have been known to outstrip even these.
Here are five outstanding prices for brush pots in recent years.
6½in (16.5cm) high Chinese underglaze blue porcelain brush pot, attributed to Wang Bu (1898-1968). Sold for $480,000 (£325,000) on February 17, 2012, by Clars of Oakland, California.
6½in (16.5cm) high Kangxi (1662-1722) carved ‘landscape’ bitong, or brushpot, made in China by Gu Jue, one of the most famous artists of the period. Sold for £360,000 ($554,400), May 23, 2012, by Woolley & Wallis of Salisbury, England.
5in (12.25cm) high Qianlong (1736-95) finely carved and pierced white jade brushpot imbued with auspicious symbols of pine and bamboo. Sold for £430,000 ($662,200), November 11, 2013, by Christie’s, King Street, London.
6¼in (16cm) high Qianlong (1736-95) Yixing stoneware slip-decorated brushpot, signed Yang Jichu. Sold for HK$5.6m/$666,500 (£430,000), May 27, 2012, by Bonhams Hong Kong.
Extremely rare 4¾in (12cm) high mark and period Qianlong (1736-95) seal famille rose heaven and earth revolving brushpot constructed in three parts. Sold for $1.7m (£1.13m), March 20, 2012, Sotheby’s New York.