Five sales of Chinese Works of Art totalled HK$893.6 million/US$114.6 million. The Pilkington Collection of Chinese Art brought HK$502.8 million/US$64.5 million, tripling pre-sale estimate. Top lot was a Blue and White Yongle Moonflask which achieved HK$110.52 million/US$14.2 million, tripling high estimate. The Seal of the Mandate of Heaven sold for HK$92.6 million/US$11.9 million, setting a world auction record for a Kangxi Imperial Seal.
The sale is a testament to the vision of the Kangxi emperor. It includes two extremely rare and important Imperial seals from the period: a massive tanxiangmu seal carved with the characters jingtian qinmin (‘To respect Heaven and diligently serve the people’), one of a select number of seals that was carved under the reigns of Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong; and a superbly carved soapstone seal carved with the characters yuanjian zhai, the name of the Emperor’s private library. It is one of an extremely rare group of seals carved with a dragon and tiger. Both seals are recorded in the Kangxi Baosou, a complete record of the Kangxi Emperor’s seals. Commissioned in 1781 by his grandson, the Qianlong Emperor, only two copies are known, of which one is preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing. Offered here is the only example in private hands, recording a total of one hundred and nineteen seals, providing deep insights into the principles and vision of the Kangxi Emperor. It is extremely rare to find any Kangxi Imperial seal in private hands, and an extraordinarily fortuitous event to assemble these three legacies of Kangxi Imperial rule in one sale.