Published: November 7, 2000
Sotheby’s Asia Week Auction in Hong Kong Achieves Five World Records
HONG KONG – Five new world records have been set at Sotheby’s Asia Week auction of Ming and Qing porcelain on October 29. The most expensive prices were fetched for Chinese porcelain, Chinese glass, enamel wares, Qing blue and white porcelain and Chinese bronze figures. The pieces were consigned from one collection owned by a private trust, an assemblage that is considered to be the one of the most valuable collections of Chinese art to have ever appeared at auction. The sale totaled $14,498,073.
The star lot of this sale and the world record setter for Chinese porcelain was a Wucai “fish” jar and cover bearing the mark and period of Jiajing (1523-1566), Ming Dynasty. It was sold for $5,657,640. This jar also garnered a former world record in 1992 when it was sold at Sotheby’s New York for $2,860,000.
The large, ovoid piece is decorated with carps swimming through abundant green pond plants, their bodies colored in golden yellow, the color of the “Imperial” yellow monochrome porcelains, and their heads and scales detailed in vivid iron-red applied over the yellow. The jar is in immaculate condition and is complete with its original cover, also decorated with fish and surmounted by a flamboyant multi-colored lotus bud knob.
The piece that set two new world records is a Beijing enameled pouch-shaped glass vase with a blue enamel mark and period of Qianlon, Qing Dynasty. It reached $3,114,290, which makes it the most expensive Chinese glass and the most expensive enamel ware (falangcai) ever sold. The vase is pouched shaped in enamel white glass. It was enameled in the Palace Workshop with flamboyant phoenix flying among peonies on a brilliant yellow ground. It is no doubt that it numbers among the most important surviving examples in the rare category of Beijing enameled glass.
A world record for blue and white porcelain from the Qing Dynasty was set by a “nine dragon” vase (Tianquiping) from the Qianlong period, which reached $1,164,390, The well-potted, slightly compressed globular body, set with a tall cylindrical neck, is magisterially painted in underglaze-blue only, with a scene of nine ferocious three- and five-clawed dragons chasing elusive “flaming pearls.” It is rare to find nine dragons adorning a Tianqiuping piece, but the addition of billowing clouds and turbulent waves made this vase highly sought after.
“We are delighted with the [sale’s] results,” said Jason Tse, director of the Chinese ceramics department, Sotheby’s Hong Kong, “[and] are happy that there is participation from new collectors in such an important auction. The two top lots in the sale were both bought by an American private collector.”
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