This Zitan Stand and Cover with an Imperial Inscription was estimated at $30,000 but just sold for more than $1,426,500 at Christie’s auction. No doubt the buyer was seduced by the inscription: For the personal use of Qianlong.
Here’s the lot’s catalogue description:
A VERY RARE IMPERIALLY INSCRIBED ZITAN STAND AND COVER
DATED TO THE WU XU YEAR OF THE REIGN OF THE EMPEROR QIANLONG, CORRESPONDING TO 1778, AND OF THE PERIOD
The cover and stand very finely carved overall as a ribbon-tied, brocade-wrapped gift divided into quadrants by the ribbon which is superimposed atop the bow by a rectangular panel carved with the characters hu fu yan (‘crouching tiger inkstone’), the quadrants carved with different scenes of birds in flight above waves from which rise various flowers and grasses, the interior of the cover with a carved and gilded imperial poem referring to the shape of the inkstone followed by the date and two seals, the top of the stand carved with a four-character inscription, Qianlong yuyong, (for the personal use of Qianlong), followed by a four-character seal, ji xia ling chi, (‘a brief moment to practice calligraphy’); together with a flat clay inkstone of recumbent tiger outline, and a clay inkstone cover molded in the round as a crouching tiger, its recessed underside inscribed with the same dated Qianlong poem and seals as the cover of the zitan box, both inkstone and inkstone cover with mottled green patination