Published: September 6, 2017
NEW YORK CITY — A large and extremely rare Chinese imperial cloisonné and gilt bronze censer and cover, Qing Dynasty, Eighteenth Century ($200/400,000) is expected to be the top lot in Heritage Auctions’ Asian art auction September 12 at the DoubleTree Metropolitan, 569 Lexington Avenue, Empire Suite.
Large cloisonné and bronze censers often are associated with the vast temples and chambers of Beijing’s Forbidden City, at times used for burning various forms of incense or as heat-generating braziers. This example comes from the collection of Henry C. Gibson (1830-1891), a Philadelphia-area banker and financier, as well as a director and vice president of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts. It is believed this piece was acquired in Europe in the second half of the Nineteenth Century and is offered in its unrestored condition, complete with its fitted interior copper charcoal tray. The only known cloisonné censer of comparable size and form currently is displayed at the Musée Chinois de l’Impératrice in the Château de Fontainebleau outside Paris, France.
An “Album of 10 Landscape Paintings” by Zhang Zongcang (1686-1756), Qing Dynasty, Eighteenth Century ($50/70,000), which once was in the possession of a foreign diplomat to China in the 1970s, features artwork by this important imperial court painter to the Qianlong Emperor who is known for his landscapes done in the “dry brush” style.
Also from the Qing Dynasty, Qianlong period, comes a fine and very rare Chinese imperial hunting knife with enameled gold and silver sheath ($50/70,000). This knife was part of the imperial costume of the Qing court. A symbol of the Qing rulers’ Manchurian ancestry, it represented their ruggedness and self-reliance. Among those from the Qinglong period, this knife is arguably the most formal in style and construction, thanks in part to the rare tapering gold and enameled silver sheath.
A large Chinese carved yellow jade bowl with cloud and mountain flower relief decoration to exterior, late Qing Dynasty ($40/60,000) stands out in part because yellow is among the rarer colors of nephrite mined in China during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Few bowls of this size—the bowl is nearly 4 inches high and has a diameter of nearly 10 inches—are known to exist, as yellow jade deposits rarely yield samples large enough for carvings of this size.
Rounding out a few of the top lots from the Qing Dynasty is a very fine and rare partial set of 6 imperial Chinese embroidered silk hundred crane scrolls ($20/40,000)—a rare compilation from a set that originally included 9 scrolls. Decorated in the “100 Cranes” motif, these scrolls display the style of embroidery that was an important pastime among women of the Qing court. These scrolls represent months of work in the imperial textile workshop and likely adorned a wall in the chambers of a high-ranking woman within the walls of the Forbidden City.
A few other highlights include a very large Tibetan mahakala thangka depicting various bodhisattvas, lamas and deities, Eighteenth-Nineteenth century ($20/30,000); a three-piece imperial Chinese silver filigree and enamel altar set: two vases and a censer, Qing Dynasty ($15/20,000); a Chinese tobi seiji decorated longquan celadon jar, Yuan Dynasty, Fourteenth Century ($10/20,000); a Chinese inscribed and embellished lacquer panel inset with jade and hardstone mounts, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong period ($5/10,000); and a Chinese emerald green snuff bottle with chilong motif, attributed to Imperial Glassworks, Qing Dynasty, Eighteenth Century ($5/7,000).
Previews are open September 7 – 11 at Heritage Auctions’ galleries, 445 Park Avenue, 15th Floor. For further information, www.ha.com or 877-437-4824.
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