Published: May 26, 2020
Review by Madelia Hickman Ring, Photos Courtesy Tremont Auctions
SUDBURY, MASS. – Tremont Auctions’ May 17 sale of Asian art and antiques featured among many highlights some Seventeenth Century tea ceremony items from the collections of Charles L. Freer, William Van Horne, Hugo Munsterbeg and Alice Boney, as well as a single owner collection of Japanese “tsuba” sword guards. Bringing a sale total of nearly $500,000, the 525-lot sale was more than 85 percent sold.
“I thought the prices were very good, considering the current economic situation,” Tremont Auctions’ owner, Brett Downer said when Antiques and The Arts Weekly reached him after the sale. “We were very happy with the results.”
The restrictions imposed by the state of Massachusetts did not allow Tremont to hold a preview, even by appointment, but Downer and his staff did what they could with more condition reports, phone calls and photographs. Downer called the sale to an empty gallery with a skeleton crew manning phone bids and the internet platforms.
“We had about 350 new bidders, including international ones, and a total of about 8,000 registered online bidders,” Downer said, who went on to say that about half the buyers in his Asian sales are Asian and European.
The sleeper of the sale was also the top lot. A Ming dynasty bronze figure of Manjushri Buddha in the “royal ease” mudra seated on the back of a lion sold for $42,840 to a Chinese buyer; it had been consigned by a local antiques dealer and estimated conservatively at $1/1,500. It was one of three Chinese deity figures that swept the leaderboard, with a diminutive (6Ã½ inches) Eighteenth Century gilt-bronze image of Buddha that made $22,610, followed by a large Chinese Ming period bronze statue of the enthroned figure of Chen Wu that sold for $20,230.
An 86-lot collection of tsuba kicked off the sale. It had been consigned by a private collector who had done very well when Tremont sold their Chinese bronze bell and cast iron head last fall. Downer said he got a call from the collector in February telling him they wanted to sell the tsubas. Only a few lots passed during the sale but Downer said he had received inquiries about the unsold ones.
Other highlights in the sale included an Eighteenth Century Chinese blue and white porcelain covered jar that capped off at $10,710; a Nineteenth Century Chinese celadon vase that finished at $7,735; and two lots of nests of nine famille rose porcelain cups that each brought $2,380 against matching estimates of $150/250.
Tremont Auctions’ next Asian sale will take place in October or November and consignments are still being accepted. Tremont’s next sale will feature art, antiques and silver and will take place at the end of June, the date is still to be determined.
Prices quoted includes buyer’s premium as reported by the auction house but may not include payment or internet platform surcharges.
Tremont Auctions is at 615 Boston Post Road, Suite 7. For information, 617-795-1678 or www.tremontauctions.com.
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