Lost treasure of Imperial China found in an attic in France

By Julia Hunt, Press Association Entertainment Correspondent

A rare 18th century Chinese vase discovered by chance in an attic in France could fetch more than £500,000 at auction.

The Imperial 18th century Yangcai Famille-Rose porcelain vase, bearing a mark from the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (r 1736-1795), is going under the hammer at Sotheby’s in Paris in June, with an estimate of £430,000 to £610,000.

The vase was found by chance in the loft of a family home in France, and taken to Sotheby’s Paris by its unsuspecting owners in a shoe box.

Research revealed the vase was a unique example produced by the finest craftsmen of the time for the Qianlong Emperor.

The vase will be offered for sale at Sotheby’s on June 12 (Sotheby’s)

Left to the grandparents of the present owners by an uncle, the vase is listed among the contents of the latter’s Paris apartment after his death in 1947.

It is recorded alongside several other Chinese and Japanese objects including other Chinese porcelains, two dragon robes, a yellow silk textile, and a bronze mirror in a carved lacquer box. The mirror will also be offered in the Sotheby’s sale.

The only known example of its kind, the vase was produced by the Jingdezhen workshops for the courts of the Qianlong Emperor.

Famille Rose porcelains of the period (or yangcai porcelains, as they are known) are extremely rare on the market, with most examples currently in the National Palace Museum in Taipei and other museums around the world.

The vase has a body encircled by a landscape with deer, cranes and pine trees, all symbols of health and longevity.

On the rare occasions when pieces of this kind come to auction, they are the subject of fierce competition.

Earlier this year a Famille-Rose porcelain bowl sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong for £21.7 million.

The vase will be offered for sale at Sotheby’s in Paris on June 12.