The surprise in this Asian art sale came from a blue and white porcelain vase shaped like a garlic clove.
China, porcelain vase in the form of a suantouping (garlic clove) decorated in blue under a glaze of lotus flowers with their foliage, apocryphal mark of Qianlong, h. 29.3 cm.
In Western folk culture, garlic is a protective agent with the power to ward off evil. It will now be synonymous with another benefit thanks to the €698,500 paid for this Chinese vase bearing an apocryphal mark of Qianlong (1735-1795) whose shape, called suantouping, evokes this bulb highly appreciated in cooking. Garlic arrived in Europe from China by way of the Middle East and ancient Egypt before crossing the Mediterranean and spreading across the continent. Despite its elegance and carefully arranged decoration under a glaze of lotus flowers, nothing suggested that this vase would achieve such a high price, except the Chinese craze for historical pieces that could be associated with an emperor.