Published: January 24, 2023
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Eldred’s
EAST DENNIS, MASS. — Asian Art: Property of a Private Collector, a single-owner sale, was the offering at Eldred’s on January 12, where three Nineteenth Century Chinese blue and white porcelain bowls sold for $13,750, Each of the 6½-inch shallow bowls was decorated with similar five-clawed dragons. The bowls were the top-selling lot in a strong sale that finished over its high estimate and sold via an absentee bid to an overseas client. The sale total was $193,750 with a 90 percent sell-through. There were 78 successful buyers among 400 registered bidders.
The gentleman whose collection was offered has assembled the material over many years, according to Annie Lajoie, head of sale. “It was husband and wife, a houseful of Asian antiques and Twentieth Century design. We went into the house for the Twentieth Century design pieces that he was looking to dispose of, and the Japanese prints and export came out of it. We decided then to hold out those separately from the Twentieth Century design.”
There were some choice Japanese woodblock prints in this sale. Each selling for $8,750 were two by Kawase Hasui (1883-1957), “Autumn at the Arayu Hot Spring, Shiobara” from the series “Souvenirs of Travels, First Collection,” 15 by 10½ inches, and “Snow at Ueno, Kiuomizudo,” 16 by 11 inches, which was published by Sakai and Kawaguchi. One of modern Japan’s most important and prolific printmakers, Hasui was a prominent designer of the shin-hanga (“new prints”) movement, whose artists depicted traditional subjects with a style influenced by Western art. Like many earlier ukiyo-e prints, Hasui’s works were commonly landscapes, but displayed atmospheric effects and natural lighting. Hasui designed approximately 620 prints over a career that spanned nearly 40 years. Towards the end of his life, the government recognized him as a Living National Treasure for his contribution to Japanese culture.
Another woodblock print, this one by Torii Kotondo (Japanese, 1900-1976), was title “Autumn Leaves,” and came from a limited edition of only 100. With cartouche verso the unframed print, 18¾ by 11¾ inches, also earned $8,750. It was illustrated in The Female Image: 20th Century Prints of Japanese Beauties (Hotei: 2000), When Kotondo’s works first appeared in Japan, people distanced themselves due to their glamorous and “pretty” aesthetic. Today, Kotondo prints are difficult to find and sell as high as any of the great ukiyo-e artists.
Fetching $3,375 was a triptych by Toshi Yoshida (Japanese, 1911-1995), “Friendly Garden” featured a plum tree, a pine tree and bamboo. Each 20-by-10-inch framed print was signed and with seal marked in the image and pencil-signed lower right. Toshi Yoshida was the son of Hiroshi Yoshida, one of the most famous woodblock print artists of the Twentieth Century. He followed the family tradition and centuries-old Japanese craft of woodblock printmaking, adopting and developing his signature style. Although Yoshida’s prints span a wide range of subjects, he is most well known for his portrayals of everyday life in Japan and the countryside.
The ginkgo is one of the oldest living tree species in the world, the sole survivor of an ancient group of trees that date back to before dinosaurs roamed the Earth between 245 and 66 million years ago. It’s so ancient, the species is known as a “living fossil.” The other special characteristic of the ginkgo is that when the cold triggers the formation of protective scars on the leaves’ stems, causing them to detach, the ginkgo’s leaves drop all at once. This phenomenon is the subject of “Ginkgo Carpet,” an etching by Tanaka Ryohei (Japanese, 1933-2019), which portrays the golden layer beneath the stately trunk. Estimated $300/500, the 18-by-15-inch work did much better, selling for $4,063. It was signed lower right, dated 2002 and numbered 94/100.
More fine art was dispersed with a run of Twentieth Century lithographs by Toko Shinoda (Japanese, 1913-2021), an iconic female artist best known for her abstract sumi ink paintings and prints. “Twilight,” a lithograph on Arches paper, 25 by 34 inches and numbered 10/30, was bid to $3,750; “Inner Strength,” a 21-by-28-inch litho, sold for $3,000; while “Penetrate,” 28 by 21 inches, made $3,125; and “Soar,” titled, signed and numbered 15/40 lower right, 21 by 28 inches, went out at $3,000. Lajoie said she is cataloging another 10 or so more Shinoda pieces that will be going into the firm’s Twentieth Century art and design sale in April.
Among the decorative arts highlights, a Chinese Qingbai Song dynasty porcelain teapot harbored a strong brew, achieving $5,000 against a $500/700 estimate. Of squat ovoid form with incised floral and lappet decoration about the ribbed body, the 4-inch-high teapot bore an accession number on a label on its body.
A Chinese gilt-on-cobalt blue porcelain bottle vase from the late Nineteenth Century also outperformed, capturing $5,313 against a $500/700 valuation. Standing 15½ inches high, its painted gilt decoration featured two five-clawed dragons chasing a fiery pearl against a cloud-filled ground. With a floral and shou band at shoulder, it had a flared neck with shou and bat decoration and bore a six-character Guanxu mark on its base.
A lot comprising two Chinese export famille rose and sepia porcelain cups and saucers from the Eighteenth/Nineteenth Century earned $3,625. One depicted an en grisaille scene of an elderly woman showing a young woman how to thread beads. It had a gilt and scrolled border, cup height of 1½ inches, saucer diameter 4½ inches. The other was a gilt grape and vine decoration and multiple borders. The cup was footed cup and 1½ inches high, while the sauce had a diameter of 4 inches.
There was also a large lot comprising Chinese carved wood stands and covers from the Nineteenth/Twentieth Century in various shapes and sizes contained in one large box. Approximately 70 pieces total, the lot went out at $3,375.
Rounding out the top highlights, a pair of Chinese famille rose porcelain bowls from the Nineteenth Century, 3 inches high, exteriors with lotus and vine decoration, interior with central lotus flower and leaf rondel, made $3,125, while four Chinese export famille rose porcelain table wares, also from the Nineteenth Century, left the gallery at $2,625. The lot consisted of a round platter depicting a figure and attendants in a courtyard surrounded by four colorful floral and diapered borders in pink, blue, orange and yellow; a Rockefeller-style platter with figural interior scene surrounded by a gilt foliate border interrupted by sepia landscape cartouches; and a pair of plates with alternating bird, floral and figural panels surrounding a central coat of arms and banner.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. The firm’s next general sale, its annual Cabin Fever event, is January 26. For information, 508-385-3116 or www.eldreds.com.
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