Published: September 25, 2018
The New York sales of Chinese and Asian paintings, sculpture, calligraphy and works of art dominated Asia Week sales during the week of September 10-16. Sales of Asian works of art occurred in other cities as well, and below are some of the highlights at the major auction houses. Prices given include buyer’s premium, as stated by the auction house.
NEW YORK CITY – Christie’s Asian Art Week sales realized $34,720,750, with 78 percent sold by lot. Deep bidding was witnessed from Greater China across all categories, and there was active participation from registered bidders across more than 37 countries with representation from five continents.
The top lot of the week was a grey limestone figure of Mahasthamaprapta, early Tang dynasty, Eighth Century, which sold for $3,252,500, more than doubling its low estimate. High prices were also realized across the thematic collecting sales with Chinese jade carvings from private collections and Masterpieces of Cizhou ware – The Linyushanren Collection, Part IV more than doubling their overall low estimates and the Ruth and Carl Barron collection of Chinese snuff bottles: Part VI achieving 100 percent sold by lot and value. Notable results were achieved for South Asian modern and contemporary art, led by a masterpiece by Tyeb Mehta (1925-2009), “Diagonal XV,” which sold for $1,392,500; and Akbar Padamsee’s (b 1928), “Rooftops,” which realized $912,500. Additionally, world auction records were set for artists Zainul Abedin (1914-1976) and Mohammed Kibria (1929-2011).
Tina Zonars, chairman of Asian art, Christie’s, commented, “The strong sell-through rates and prices realized over the week reinforce the stability of the market and the global demand across all collecting categories of Chinese works of art and Chinese painting. We were pleased to see the top prices realized for masterpieces, led by the two Tang dynasty limestone figures. We also witnessed extremely active bidding across the thematic sales of jades and Cizhou ware from private collections, reinforcing the importance of provenance. Throughout the week of sales, there was robust participation across all buying channels, with deep bidding witnessed from Greater China.”
Deepanjana Klein, international head of classical and contemporary Indian and South Asian art, remarked, “This season, we saw global participation for Southeast Asian modern and contemporary art as well as for classical Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian art. The modern and contemporary sale achieved two new artist records, and strong prices were realized for the top lots offered. The sale of Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Art also saw impressive results for thangkas, Indian sculpture and gilt-bronzes, showcasing the strength of the field across the category.”
For information, www.christies.com or 212-636-2178.
NEW YORK CITY – Sotheby’s Asia Week sale series began on September 12, with nearly 200 works sold across two auctions of important Chinese works of art for an overall total of $20.2 million. Day two of the series on September 13 featured two auctions of Chinese paintings and calligraphy that together raised $10.5 million. The firm’s Asia Week sales reached $33.9 million following the 551 lots that were offered in its Saturday at Sotheby’s auction on September 15.
Day one began with an auction dedicated to a selection of Chinese Buddhist sculpture from the collection of Stephen Junkunc III – a Chicago-based connoisseur who formed one of the largest collections of Chinese art ever assembled in the United States. The sale offered works spanning nearly 1,000 years of early Buddhist stone, lacquer and gilt-bronze sculptures dating from the Northern Wei to Ming dynasties, led by a rare painted limestone figure of a standing bodhisattva from the Tang dynasty that fetched $4.3 million – far surpassing its high estimate of $2.5 million. It is a classic example of China’s Buddhist stone carving from the High Tang period under Emperor Xuanzong (r 713-755) – the period that saw perhaps the greatest flowering of China’s plastic arts.
Works from the Junkunc collection also performed well during the day’s various-owner auction of Chinese art, with ceramics from the collection commanding a number of the sale’s top prices. The group was led by a rare Guan-type vase, Qianlong seal mark and period, which soared to $423,000 – more than five times its high estimate of $80,000. Notable for its elegant form and subtle bluish glaze suffused with fine streaks of golden-brown crackles, this well-potted vase embodies the Qianlong emperor’s fondness for celebrated Guan ware of the Southern Song dynasty.
Outside of the Junkunc collection, the Chinese art auction featured an archaic bronze ritual vessel (zun) from the Shang dynasty, Yinxu period, which achieved $1.5 million. Notable for its crisp decoration, which has been remarkably preserved, this zun is an outstanding example of late Shang bronze workmanship. Originally used as ritual wine containers, it is well known that the Shang rulers used zun and other tools to commune with the higher powers of the ancestral spirit realm. Rulers may have performed the rituals personally or with the aid of a spirit medium, such as a shaman.
On September 12, the day began with an auction dedicated to the collection of Tang Hung and Fung Bi-Che – two students of the modern Chinese ink master Zhang Daqian. The collection achieved $4.8 million, well in excess of its high estimate of $3.1 million, and with a strong 84.4 percent of works sold. The collection was led by one of Zhang Daqian’s iconic splashed-ink landscapes, “Bridge to Mountain Temple Shrouded by Prismatic Clouds in Splashed Color,” from 1981, which fetched $915,000 – more than three times its high estimate of $280,000.
Sixteen works by Zhang Daqian were sold from the collection, including a number of pieces that illuminate his close relationship with his former students. In “Invitation to Visit,” Zhang Daqian invites Tang Hung to join him in the mountains depicted within the landscape. The work, which sold for $567,000 is inscribed, “Last fall, I acquired this striking view of the Northern Mojie Mountain and thought how pleasant it would be to have a dwelling here. I did not have a chance to materialize this vision, I painted it instead. Would you, my very dear friend [Tang Hung], like to join me here to enjoy the serenity of this land?”
The various-owner auction of classical Chinese paintings and calligraphy was led by Wang Yuanqi’s “Landscape of Yushan,” a hanging scroll dating to 1689 that brought $1.2 million. The work had remained in the Roy and Marilyn Papp collection – one of the finest private collections of Chinese paintings remaining in the United States. Works by Zhang Daqian continued to perform well throughout the various-owner sale, including his “Dancing Lotus,” which sold for $375,000. The piece appeared at auction from the collection of Carl and Lena Ma – as an airline executive, Ma met and assisted Zhang Daqian in transporting his paintings around the world. In gratitude of their friendship, the artist invited Ma and his family to his studio where, in 1973, he gave and dedicated the work to his friend.
The Asia Week sale series drew to a close over the weekend, with works sold across the September 15 Saturday at Sotheby’s auction. Top prices were commanded by a mix of furniture, porcelain, paintings and decorative arts, led by a number of pieces that soared exponentially beyond expectations: a zitan and hardwood tabletop cabinet dating to the Qing dynasty, Nineteenth Century, achieved $200,000; a landscape attributed to Huang Binhong brought $187,500; and a ru-type vase dating to the Qing dynasty, Nineteenth Century, fetched $122,500.
For information, www.sothebys.com or 212-606-7000.
NEW YORK CITY – Doyle’s Asian works of art auction on September 10 presented the arts of China, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia dating from the Neolithic period through the Twentieth Century. Showcased were porcelains, pottery, jade, scholar’s objects, bronzes, screens, furniture and paintings from prominent collections and estates.
With international competitive bidding in the saleroom, on the telephones and via the internet, the auction totaled $1,261,093, surpassing its estimate of $532,250/810,150, with 76 percent sold by lot and 90 percent sold by value.
Highlighting the auction was a Chinese enameled porcelain vase that achieved $420,500. Consigned by the Rhinelander Stewart family, the Qing dynasty vase was decorated with a continual scene of foreigners, servants, elephants, immortals and scholars on a mountainous path, the base with the Qianlong seal mark. The vase was an unusually large example at 19Ã¾ inches in height, despite having sustained a loss at the neck.
From the same collection was a Chinese Nineteenth Century blue and white glazed porcelain vase decorated with nine slithering snakes. This rare and novel decorative theme drew strong interest that sent the bidding to $68,750.
A pair of Nineteenth Century Chinese famille rose glazed porcelain lanterns from the estate of Lili Israel realized $106,250. The auction house remarked that pairs of lanterns of such delicate construction, and in such superior condition as these, are exceedingly rare.
The selection of Chinese furniture featured a yokeback armchair made of huanghuali wood that realized $34,375. It was consigned by the estate of Leo Hershkowitz.
Works of art in miniature Chinese snuff bottles are collected for their intricate beauty and variation of design and color. The sale offered numerous examples from the estate of Mary Ann Bresee, a prominent snuff bottle collector and a member of distinguished collecting societies. Among the quality examples from her collection were a late Qing dynasty white jade snuff bottle that achieved $8,125 and an Eighteenth or Nineteenth Century shadow agate snuff bottle that sold for $7,500.
Japanese Satsuma porcelain from the Meiji period, once an imperial ware, is now prized by collectors. The auction offered an extensive assortment of Satsuma porcelain from a private Baltimore, Md., collector. Highlighting the collection was a charming Meiji period Satsuma figure of a Japanese Chin with its paw resting playfully on a ball, possibly by Chin Jukan. Figures of pets are rare in Satsuma ware, and the piece fetched $15,000.
For more information, www.doyle.com or 212-427-2730.
PHILADELPHIA – Freeman’s kicked off the autumn sale season with its September 7 Asian arts auction. The sale included nearly 650 lots of fine Chinese, Japanese, Burmese, Tibetan and Korean decorative objects and works of art.
Highlights of the day’s proceedings included an impressive Japanese parcel gilt and mixed metal patinated bronze koro and cover from the Meiji period, which soared past its $8/12,000 estimate to bring $50,000. In line with that result was a Seventeenth or Eighteenth Century Chinese huanghuali yoke-back side chair, as it more than tripled the $10/15,000 high estimate when it sold, after a long and heated bidding war, for $50,000.
A number of other lots also flew over their estimates, including a finely cast and chased Chinese gilt lacquered bronze figure of Wenshu from the Ming dynasty, which brought ten times its high estimate at $30,000, and a Chinese pale celadon jade cockerel vase from the Qing dynasty, which sold for four times its high estimate at $20,000. The Asian arts department is now inviting consignments for its spring auction.
For more information, www.freemansauction.com or 215-563-9275.
NEW YORK CITY – Eager collectors drove the sale price for a pair of Wang Dafan porcelain and hardwood table screens, Republic period, circa 1912-49, to $150,000 to claim top-lot honors in Heritage Auctions’ Asian art auction on September 11. Multiple bidders pursued the Wang Dafan table screens in an event that marked Heritage’s return to New York City’s Asia Week with an auction that totaled $1,166,232.
“The extraordinary lots in this auction really celebrated our return to New York for Asia Week,” Heritage Auctions Asian art director Richard Cervantes said. “The collectors in this auction clearly understood the importance of Wang Dafan for his work as a painter and with porcelain, prompting the aggressive bidding on the table screens.”
A pair of Chinese carved cinnabar lacquer court chairs with peony and landscape motifs, Qing dynasty, Jiaqing-Daoguang period brought $93,750. They featured ornate engraving and rich red hues derived from cinnabar, the bright scarlet form of mercury sulfide. Engraving such as that found on these chairs was a popular and important way of decorating furniture, often depicting character patterns to geometric patterns to scenes in nature.
An Eighteenth Century Tibetan mandala thangka with Abbot lineage was another exceptionally popular lot among collectors, who pushed the final price to $81,250. Thangkas like this one often are kept unframed and rolled up when not on display, mounted on a textile backing in a style similar to that of Chinese scroll paintings, which helps explain the demand for such an unusual example.
Once a part of the collection of a German consular officer in China, a Chinese carved hardwood bitong brush pot, Qing dynasty, Eighteenth Century, spotlighted the ornate style of workmanship often used at the time; it drew $68,750.
From a Princeton, N.J., collection, a gouache, watercolor and ink-on-silk Chinese painting depicting a seated Budai and children, early Qing dynasty, realized $65,625.
Reflecting the extraordinary innovation of ceramics during the period, a large Chinese blue and white porcelain dish, Ming dynasty, Yongle period, circa 1403-24, sold for $62,500. The dish reflects the innovation as kilns allowed new techniques in design and shape and an expansion in the uses of color.
For further information, www.ha.com or 877-437-4824.
EAST DENNIS, MASS. – The multiple auctions conducted during Eldred’s 51st annual Asian art week sales, August 21-25, were led by a zitan low table that sold for $39,000. This top earner, which had a ruyi and passion flower carvings, came from the estate of Ambassador Charles Richard Crane, who served as minister to China in 1920 and 1921.
The week began with two days of Japanese art, August 21 and 22, in which netsuke, ceramics and prints performed well. Top sellers include a strung collection of gold ojime, which brought $15,600, and a dai oban tate-e “Sailing Boats, Afternoon” by Hiroshi Yoshida, which sold for $13,200. The top earner was Japanese Miyao bronze and mixed metal figure of a Samurai, which sold for $32,400.
At an evening sale of the prints of Paul Jacoulet, the popular “Le Pacifique Mysterieux. Mers du Sud (Mysterious Pacific),” with seals of the carver, Kentaro Maeda, and printer, Tetsunosuke Honda, and published July 6, 1951, was the top seller, bringing $9,600.
The diverse three-day Asian Art sale, August 23-25, featured jade from the Troubetzkoy Foundation and an array of material from the collection of Suzanne H. Foster. Highlights from the sale included a chicken bone jade table screen, which sold for $14,400; a polychrome-on-powder blue porcelain vase, which brought $11,400; and a bronze censer that netted $8,400.
For further information, www.eldreds.com or 508-385-3116.
BOSTON – A rare Ming dynasty green-ground iron-red-decorated double-gourd vase ($10/15,000) garnered significant bidding in the room, over the internet and on the telephone over a ten-minute period, rising from an opening bid of $10,000 to close at $363,000, with buyer’s premium. Of a rare iron red and green color palette and decorated with scrolling lotus design, a band of lingzhi scroll around the waist and the six-character Jiajing mark, the vase was consigned to Skinner from the estate of a prominent New England family and is one of several of a variations of this form that has come to auction since 2000. The Skinner vase sold in the September 14 auction is the record price for an example of this form sold in the United States
Department director Judith Dowling noted that the auction, timed to coincide with Asia Week, “brought strong interest from international collectors and dealers who traveled to Boston and previewed the vase and attended the auction in person. Bidders appreciated that the vase was fresh-to-the-market, having been in a private collection for some time.”
The auction offered more than 500 lots of art from China, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia. Chinese works performed particularly well, with Chinese ceramics, bronzes and jades often selling well above estimates. Additional highlights include a cast bronze ritual food yu that sold for $45,510, a famille rose white porcelain bowl realizing $19,680 and a pair of famille rose lotus water droppers achieving $17,220.
For additional information, 508-970-3263 or www.skinnerinc.com.
NEW YORK CITY – Bonhams Chinese paintings and works of art sale on September 10 sold 172 lots, netting a cumulative hammer price of $1,310,650 ($1,638,312 with buyer’s premium). The sale started strongly, with collectors eagerly bidding on the jade, porcelain and glass snuff bottles, which yielded an 88 percent sell-through rate. The top snuff bottle lot was an unusual and delicate agate example that achieved $15,625. Carved jades also saw competitive bidding. Chinese collectors led the way, with a lot of four jade archer’s rings selling for $68,750, nearly ten times the high estimate. Chinese paintings and calligraphy also attracted consistent interest, with works by Twentieth Century masters working in traditional Chinese media dominating. Xu Beihong’s (1895-1953) 1944 depiction of a running horse brought $225,000, more than four times the low estimate. The painting was acquired in China in 1946 by Dr Marshall C. Balfour (1896-1976), who was the head of the Rockefeller Foundation’s Far East office. Balfour purchased it just two years after the composition was completed, and it had remained with the family ever since.
For information, www.bonhams.com or 212-644-9001.
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