China’s 18th Century Imperial Seal Sells for Record High $22M
An 18th-century imperial seal belonging to Emperor Qianlong was sold at Paris for €21 million ($22 million) on Wednesday (Dec. 14) to an unknown Chinese collector.
The imperial seal was reportedly crafted during the period of the Qianlong dynasty (1736-1795). It belongs to Emperor Qianlong who ruled China with great power for six decades and is one of the longest serving emperors in the country's history. Emperor Qianlong is also an avid art collector who signs his work with seals.
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"This seal was used to sign paintings by Emperor Qianlong himself, along with calligraphy," Alice Jossot, an art specialist at the Drouot Auction House, said.
"The markings underneath the seal reiterate the famous saying: 'Emperor Qianlong's paint brush', meaning everything he had painted or written himself," she added.
The seal was originally acquired by a young French naval doctor who visited China in the 19th century. The seal remained with his family ever since, the Drouot house explained.
The palm-sized seal is made of red and white steatite mineral rock and is adorned with nine dragons that symbolize masculinity and imperial authority. The auction house said that the number nine symbolizes the maximum figure in Chinese cosmology.
Drouot said Qianlong has around 1,800 seals made but 700 of which have disappeared and a thousand more are kept by China’s Palace Museum in Beijing’s Forbidden City, according to BBC News.
Drouot Auction House said the previous record for an auctioned seal was €14 million ($14.6 million).