Published: September 26, 2000
Asia Week at the Auctions
Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Doyle New York Vie for the Attentions of a Cautious Buying Crowd
NEW YORK CITY – Asia Week auctions in the Big Apple this year have been notable for their cautious bidders. At Christie’s September 21 Chinese Ceramics, Paintings and Works of Art sale, 266 of 403 total lots offered pulled in $5,325,214, or 66 percent sold by lot and 61 percent sold by dollar.
“Two sections in particular – the furniture part that started the sale and the Ming and Qing ceramics part that ended it – perform[ed] at a high level,” said Theow Tow, International Director and International Senior Vice President of the Chinese Art department. “Of particular interest were the various properties sold to benefit the Acquisitions Funds of the Cleveland and Harvard University Art Museums. Their results largely exceeded the pre-sale expectations.”
Headlining the auction was a longquan celadon jar and cover, southern Song Dynasty, which brought $358,000 from the East Asian trade. An anonymous buyer purchased a peachbloom-glazed chysanthemum vase, Juban Ping, with a Kangxi six-character mark in underglaze blue and of the period, for $171,000, the second-highest-priced rdf_Description. American and European bidders seemed to dominate this sale.
By contrast, Asian dealers and private collectors prevailed at Christie’s Japanese and Korean art auction on September 19, which totaled $5,927,760, with 299 of 408 lots finding buyers, or 73 percent of offerings sold by lot, 76 percent by dollar. The top lot was a Fourteenth Century gilt-bronze figure of a Bodhisattva, which fetched $446,000 from an anonymous buyer.
“In a selective market, outstanding pieces were sought after by an international group of collectors and institutional buyers. The Japanese prints performed solidly with the cover lot surpassing its high estimate, while Japanese modern paintings maintained the growth and momentum of the May sale,” said Katsura Yamaguchi and Susan Lewis, Vice Presidents and Specialists of the Japanese Art Department.
“For Japanese and Korean Works of Art, bidding was selective. Contemporary Korean Paintings caused excrdf_Descriptionent in the room and on the telephones underlining the active international interest for contemporary Korean art,” noted Heakyum Kim, Vice President and Specialist of the Korean Art Department.
An Asian works of art auction conducted by Doyle New York on September 18 featured 264 lots encompassing a broad range of collecting categories. The sale was strong in Eighteenth Century Chinese porcelain and also included cloisonné, bronzes, prints, paintings, screens, arms and armor, scholar’s articles, jade and hardstone carvings. In addition, several buyers benefited from purchasing rdf_Descriptions through the simultaneous broadcast of the sale on the Internet via www.ibidlive.tv.
“The sale was marked by heated bidding for quality ceramic and porcelain rdf_Descriptions. Collectors were more cautious with moderately priced pieces,” said Martin Lorber, the firm’s Asian Art Specialist. “Sales in all categories throughout Asian Week reflected more discriminating bidding than in the March sales, to the extent that the best pieces sold extraordinarily well and middle ground bidding was practically non-existent,” he added.
The top lot of the sale belonged to a black-ground, silver-mounted and silver wire cloisonné vase by one of the greatest shippo artists, Kyoto Namikawa (1845-1927) (Namikawa Yasuyuki). Dating to the Meiji Period (1868-1912), the vase was decorated in the round with a cockerel, hens and chicks amidst chrysanthemum and sparrows in flight. It brought $57,500 against a $20/30,000 estimate.
Another top lot, a large, painted Henan Meiping (flower vase) from the Song Dynasty (926-1127 AD), was an example of the sophisticated Song taste in ceramic art and was painted with magnolia branches in iron red. It achieved $25,300.
Representative of late Chinese ceramics was a blue and white “palace” bowl with a double encircled six-character mark of Chenghua from the Eighteenth Century. The bowl was painted in a two-tone blue and the exterior was well outlined. The foot of the bowl had hibiscus and foliage above a lappet collar and peony scrolls around a chrysanthemum in the cavetto on the interior. The bowl well surpassed its estimate of $5/7,000 to fetch $25,300.
Late Chinese bronzes that performed well included a pair of gilt bronzes of Vajrasattva (the “ultimate being” and bodhisattva of purification), and Sadaksári (the bodhisattva of compassion). Dating to around the Sixteenth Century, each bronze is seated dhyânâsana in bodhisattva garb with a five-leaf diadem. It doubled its estimate to fetch $14,950.
Also capturing much bidder interest was a fine Tokyo bronze group of a mother and child, circa 1900, signed Teidagawa Sho-O. The bronze depicts a farming mother seated on a wooden bench feeding her child from an open bento by her side. Estimated at $10/12,000, it realized $16,100.
An array of scholar’s objects in a variety of materials was offered. Most noteworthy among them were two Eighteenth Century rhinoceros horn libations cups carved with pine branches. Each brought $6,900. Other highlights included a carved wood figure of a Luohan, probably the disciple Bodhindharma, from the Eighteenth Century, which brought an unexpected $5,175, and an archaizing, mottled brown and white jade gui from the Seventeenth Century, which brought $3,450.
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