Sarah Belk Gambrell Falangcai vase reaches $ 2.45 million at Doyle

The Sarah Belk Gambrell Falangcai vase. Sold for $ 2.45 million.

A rare and important Chinese imperial falangcai The vase fetched a stunning price of $ 2.45 million at Doyle’s Asian Art Auction on September 20. Created during the reign of Chinese Emperor Qianlong (1735-1796), the Sarah Belk Gambrell Falangcai vase showcased the collection of the heiress of the Belk department store and the passionate philanthropist Sarah Belk Gambrell (1918-2020). Determined bidders around the world competing over the phone sent the vase to exceed its pre-sale estimate of $ 100,000 to $ 300,000.

The Sarah Belk Gambrell Falangcai vase
The Sarah Belk Gambrell Falangcai vase bears a four-character mark in blue indicating its origin as a product of Emperor Qianlong’s imperial workshop. Among the many works produced by the Imperial Workshop for use within the Forbidden City, falangcai (or “foreign colors”) are the rarest. They are unique in that they had to pass Qianlong’s own inspection.

The techniques involved in creating, applying, and firing the shiny, jewelry-like enamels were laborious. Relatively few falangcai goods were never produced during the long reign of Emperor Qianlong (1735-1796). Of the small number of known extant examples, most are now held by major museums around the world.

Measuring 4 7/8 inches in height, the Sarah Belk Gambrell Falangcai Vase is decorated with a continuous scene of two European women and a child in a garden, reflecting Emperor Qianlong’s admiration for European aesthetics. A prototype European subject falangcai porcelain vase exhibited in the British Museum as part of the Sir Percival David collection also presents two women in a bucolic setting with a young boy. The Sir Percival David Vase provides the best and closest example from which to imagine the proportion and possible design of the missing Sarah Belk Gambrell Vase neck.

Although the importance of the Sarah Belk Gambrell Vase in terms of history, quality and value in today’s Chinese arts market makes it a singular highlight of her wonderful porcelain collection, it will never cease to grow. ‘be a study room. It reveals in its subject the history of the art of the imperial court of the XVIIth and XVIIIth centuries. In its construction, one can begin to presume the technical and conceptual skill required to create such a graceful 360-degree scene on a crisp olive-shaped porcelain body. Even its visible loss invites us to consider the vase whole and in perfect proportion. The way the neck was decorated – if at all – is just guesswork.

Sarah Belk Gambrell (1918-2020)
Daughter of Belk Department Store founder William Henry Belk, Sr., Sarah Belk Gambrell has spent her life as a pioneer. Forging a course in a male-led retail world, she coordinated the womenswear and cosmetics business for hundreds of Belk stores across the South. In 1952, she married banker Charles Glenn Gambrell and the couple maintained homes in Charlotte and New York. A generous philanthropist, Ms. Gambrell was a tireless advocate for women and other marginalized groups nationwide and in her hometown of Charlotte. She has served on the National, New York and Charlotte Boards of the YWCA and has generously donated to the Mint Museum, the Carolina Opera and the Charlotte Philharmonic, as well as to numerous institutions. cultural, educational, medical and social.

A sophisticated collector, Ms. Gambrell has also assembled an extensive collection of important English and Continental porcelain. On June 24, Doyle hosted the highly successful auction of the Sarah Belk Gambrell Collection of European Porcelain, which topped $ 1 million, exceeding expectations.

Beautiful English and Continental furniture and decorative arts from Ms. Gambrell’s elegant home in Charlotte’s Eastover neighborhood and her New York apartment on Park Avenue will be auctioned off in Doyle on October 13, along with paintings by Old Masters and English and Continental money in November. ten.

Shipments are currently accepted
Doyle Specialists are currently accepting submissions in all categories for upcoming auctions. They are available by phone, email and video to provide free auction estimates. Details on

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