India Today - - HOTSHEET - Com­piled by Prachi Bhuchar and Anin­dita Sat­pathi

An artis­tic mar­vel of 18th cen­tury ce­ramic ware, a ‘ moon­flask’ be­long­ing to a col­lec­tion made es­pe­cially for the Qian­long em­peror of China, is up for auc­tion at Bon­hams on Novem­ber 7, 2013. Called ‘ baoyueping’ in Chi­nese and tra­di­tion­ally re­ferred to as ‘ pil­grims flask’ be­cause of its char­ac­ter­is­tic round shape, the un­ex­pected find from the dy­nas­tic col­lec­tion of the ‘ first mu­seum di­rec­tor’ res­onates with im­pe­rial prove­nance. Many Chi­nese col­lec­tors are vy­ing for the piece made with a rare un­der­glaze paint­ing tech­nique and pat­terned with the aus­pi­cious five- clawed im­pe­rial dragon dat­ing from the 14th cen­tury. The ‘ moon­flask’ it­self, which passed from the hands of one con­nois­seur to an­other, has an in­ter­est­ing story to tell. The tale be­gins with Charles Oswald Lid­dell, an English­man set­tled in China, get­ting so trans­fixed by the flask’s ethe­real translu­cence that he de­cided to bring it back to Eng­land in the late 19th cen­tury. That an item from the em­peror’s prized col­lec­tion of ce­ram­ics was un­der wraps for close to a cen­tury en­hances the value of the flask. It is ex­pected to fetch be­tween £ 500,000 and £ 800,000 when it goes un­der the ham­mer.

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