This week, a rare jade washer from the Qing Dynasty (1636 to 1912) will lead Sotheby’s ‘Important Chinese Art’ sale in London. Held on November 7, this will be the first event at which the piece has made an appearance since the International Exhibition of Chinese Art at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, which ran between 1935 and 1936. It was also featured in a well-known publication, Chinese Jade Throughout the Ages, which was released in 1936.
“This extraordinary washer has been in the same English collection since the 19th century, it has been published in one of the most famous books on jade, and it has been shown in the great exhibition at the Royal Academy of London in the 1930s, so it has a history, but since 1936 it has not been seen in public, so it’s a discovery as well,” said Henry Howard-Sneyd, chair of Asian art, Europe and Americas, for Sotheby’s. “This piece really ticks all the boxes a major collector would want.”
The washer is carved from spinach-green Khotan jade, a prized material in Chinese culture, and displays a rich lustre. It features two large animal-head handles and four smaller handles, all with freely moveable rings. Another unique element of the piece is its size—it is larger than comparable vessels at 50 cm (19 in.) wide and 12.8 cm (5 in.) tall.
The washer is expected to fetch US$775,000 to approximately US$1 million at auction.