Published: March 30, 2004
The sale of Japanese and Korean art on March 23 at Christie’s, 20 Rockefeller Plaza, surpassed presale estimates were effortlessly surpassed in all collecting fields, with good results for screens and paintings.
An extremely rare screen, circa 1630, depicting views in and around Osaka soared to $321,100, while a pair of hanging scrolls by Geiai sold for $287,500. The Korean section was a tribute to Twentieth Century Korean paintings with Park Sookeun’s “Seated woman and jar” setting a new world auction record at $1,239,500.
The sale totaled $5,278,006 and was 82 percent sold in value and 83 percent sold by lots.
Katsura Yamaguchi, senior specialist in the Japanese art department, and Heakyum Kim, specialist in the Korean art department, said, “The sale reflected an extremely solid buying pattern. The freshness and quality of the offered material spurred international clients into confident bidding, and many works of art effortlessly realized above-estimate prices. In the Japanese art section, every single area was en vogue, with especially strong bidding for screens and paintings, as illustrated by the staggering price of $321,100 for the rare Osaka screen, circa 1630, and $287,500 for the Geiai pair of hanging scrolls.
“The John H. Morris collection of arms and armor, sold to benefit the arms and armor department of the Metropolitan Museum, totaled $233,282.”
Rounding out the sale’s top ten were: Kitagawa Utamaro (1753-1806), “Man seducing a young woman,” hanging scroll, $192,300; Tsukioka Yoshitoshi (1839-1892), “Fujiwara no Yasumasa playing the flute,” hanging scroll, $175,500 (sold to the Worcester Art Museum); Tosa School (late Muromachi or early Momoyama period, second half Sixteenth Century), “Pine trees and Chinese black pines,” six-panel screen, $147,500; a blue and white porcelain bottle with handles, Choson period (Nineteenth Century), $127,340; Sakai Hoitsu (1761-1829), “Chofu Jewel River,” hanging scroll, $113,525; Tachibana Minko (active mid-Eighteenth Century) and his circle, “The fox wedding,” complete set of six prints, $107,550; and Toshusai Sharaku (active 1794-95), “Segawa Kikunojo III as Oshizo, the wife of Tanabe Bunzo,” a large-head portrait, $101,575.
Tina Zonars, head of the Chinese works of art department said, “Moments of excited bidding were spread throughout the sale, which clearly reflected a desire for objects from private collections with impeccable provenance. We were extremely pleased with the results of the fine group of Buddhist gilt-bronzes whose extraordinary quality and freshness were recognized by collectors around the globe. Archaic bronzes also performed strongly, highlighted by the splendid Robinson fangyi, which achieved $1.4 million.
“The afternoon session,” she continued, “captured the continuing appeal of Chinese ceramics with outstanding results for Tang sculpture, including the rare blue and sancai-painted horse, $220,300, and the pair of earth spirits, $433,100, and Qianlong ceramics such as the famille rose pear-shaped vase, $410,700, and the celadon-glazed relief-decorated vase, $197,900. The much coveted Song ceramics triumphed as the magnificent geyao foliate dish, Southern Song dynasty, formerly in the collection of Stephen Junkunc III, sold for just below $1.5 million.”
The top lot, a geyao foliate dish, Southern Song dynasty, Twelfth-Thirteenth Century, was purchased by the Asian trade for $1,463,500, more than a million dollars over the low estimate of $400,000. A close second was the bronze ritual covered wine vessel or fangyi, of the Shang dynasty. Roger Keverne bought the piece for $1,407,500, within the $1,2/1.5 million estimate.
The geyao foliate dish had shallow sides flaring out to a notched rim divided into six shallow lobes and had a crackle glaze. Its provenance was C.F. Yau, New York City, and the collection of Stephen Junkunc III. It had been exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum in 1952 in the exhibition “Chinese Ceramics from the Prehistoric Period through Ch’ien Lung.” The Song dynasty is known for simple elegant forms. This dish measured 51/2 inches in diameter.
The cast bronze ritual covered wine vessel or fangyi, of the Shang dynasty had provenance of the Gladys Lloyd Robinson Collection, Sotheby’s New York, 1976, and the British Rail Pension Fund, Sotheby’s, London, 1989. It had been exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in “Ancient Ritual Bronzes of China,” 1976, and was on loan to the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 1977-88.
A gilt bronze figure of a six-armed Bodhisattva, Liao dynasty fetched $287,500 ($250/300,000). It went to an American collector. A blue and sancai-glazed pottery figure of a Ferghana horse, Tang dynasty, sold for $220,300 ($150/180,000) to an anonymous bidder.
Roger Keverne also came away with a large bronze bell, nao, of the late Shang/early Western Zhou dynasty. He paid $220,300 for the bell, which had been estimated at $150/200,000. A private American collector bought a gilt-bronze seated figure of Avalokitesvara of the late Yuan dynasty, for $209,100 ($180/250,000).
Christie’s March 25 sale of Indian and Southeast Asian art, including Twentieth Century Indian paintings, concluded its Asian art sales.
Overall, the sales of Japanese and Korean art, fine Chinese ceramics and works of art and Indian and Southeast Asian art were closely followed by collectors, dealers and institutions worldwide. The total for the series of Asian sales was $20,061,100, the highest ever Asia Week result, according to Christie’s.
In the Indian and Southeast Asian art sale, a thangka depicting the fierce protector goddess Sitatapatra was the highlight, selling for $365,900. A rare early Sixteenth Century lampas weave canopy, made in India for the Tibetan market, realized $209,100. The sale totaled $4,529,782. It was 64 percent sold by lot and 73 percent sold by value.
“The heated buying activity in the afternoon’s session showed the continued strength of the Indian Twentieth Century paintings market,” he continued. “The segment, containing only 38 lots, realized $1,151,379 and established new world auction records for Krishen Khanna, Jagdish Swaminathan and Arpita Singh. Also in this field, the highest prices were achieved for property from private collections, most notably the Times of India and Holck-Larsen collections.”
Rounding out the sale’s top ten were: a gilt bronze figure of the Medicine Buddha, Bhaishajyaguru, Tibet, circa Fourteenth Century, $209,100; a gray schist figure of Buddha, Gandhara, Second/Third Century, $175,500; a gray schist figure of a Bodhisattva, Gandhara, Second/Third Century, $119,500; a bronze shrine of Rishabhanatha, India, possibly Madhya Pradesh, dated 973, $119,500; a gilt bronze figure of Yamantaka Vajrabhairava, Tibet, circa Sixteenth Century, $113,525; Tyeb Mehta (born 1925), “Drummer,” acrylic on canvas, $101,575; Maqbool Fida Husain (born 1915), “Ganga,” oil on canvas, $89,625; and a gray schist figure of a Bodhisattva, Gandhara, Second/Third Century, $83,650.
All prices reported include buyer’s premium.
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