Published: June 21, 2022
Review by W.A. Demers, Photos Courtesy Tremont Auctions
SUDBURY, MASS. – An eight-panel screen from Nineteenth Century Korea ignored its $3/5,000 estimate to sell for $85,400 at Tremont Auction’s Asian sale on June 12. Maybe it was the meta-meta decoration of the Hundred Antiques design in trompe l’oeil style that propelled the 66-by-144-inch screen to its final price or just its rarity, but it was an important item despite some condition issues. It was won by a New York City dealer bidding by phone.
Tremont’s annual spring sale of East and South Asian items, including Chinese and Japanese porcelains, accessories, furniture and sculptures, brought out all kinds of such treasures. The sale totaled $427,000 with an 85 percent sell-through rate, according to Cameron Ayotte, a partner in the firm, with up to 15,000 “auction watchers” lined up on online bidding platforms LiveAuctioneers, Invaluable and AuctionZip.
Apparently, bidders were shopping for jade and estimates were routinely surpassed by big margins. The firm’s Asian expert James Callahan typically keeps those presale estimates low in order to let the market decide on an item’s value. The priciest jade came in the form of a Chinese censer from the Twentieth Century. With stone of a pale grey color and in the Mughal style, it was carved and pierced with flowers and was topped with a dragon finial. Measuring 8 by 6¼ inches, it sold for $15,860 against a $300/500 estimate.
A lot of three Chinese jades from the Eighteenth or Nineteenth Century comprising a double gourd pendant and two “knuckle bones,” the largest 3 inches long and the smallest at 1 inch blew away its $600/900 expectation to finish at $8,330.
Fetching $5,612, far beyond its $200/300 estimate, was a lot of five jade carvings, China, Nineteenth/Twentieth Century. Included was a jadeite bracelet and four pendants, the largest of which measured 2 inches.
A Chinese Ming period (1368-1644) jade carving brought $4,522, nearly four times its high estimate. It featured a stone of a gray color with large russet markings. Carved and pierced with a goose and aquatic plants, it was mounted with an early Twentieth Century brass box. The jade measured 4 by 3½ by 1½ inches.
Also notable was a Nineteenth Century Chinese jade horse buckle. It depicted a horse with a monkey for the rebus, a form of picture writing lampooning “becoming a high official.” At 3½ inches, the belt plaque earned $4,284.
Jade snuff bottles were led by an Eighteenth Century Chinese example from a 100-year-old Newport, R.I., collection that was pure white in color. Its surface carved with dragons and clouds, it surpassed an $800-$1,200 estimate to realize $4,046.
Five Chinese jade archer’s rings of both agate and jade went out at $3,570.
The name Hokusai adds a premium to any artwork offered in an Asian auction, and this sale had a possible original Hokusai woodblock. Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), known simply as Hokusai, was a Japanese artist, ukiyo-e painter and printmaker of the Edo period. He is best known for his woodblock print series “Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji,” which includes the internationally iconic print “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.” The woodblock offered here was of Tama River with Mount Fuji. The piece had not been examined out of frame, but bidders took it from a $600/900 estimate all the way to $12,065.
Porcelains also performed well in the sale, with a couple of key lots coming from the Newport, R.I., collection. A Chinese bowl, Kang Hsi period (1662-1722) hit $5,334, more than three and a half times its high estimate. In a lobated, high-sided form with a scalloped edge it had underglaze blue decoration of women in room interiors with floral borders and measured 9¾ by 6 inches.
Five Nineteenth Century Chinese porcelains, including a bird feeder, a peach-shaped box and three snuff bottles were bid to $4,826, nearly seven times their high estimate.
Textiles and decorative arts highlights included a Chinese dragon robe, late Nineteenth Century, with a dark blue ground populated by embroidery of dragons in gold and auspicious emblems. It quadrupled its high estimate to bring $11,430.
A Chinese hanging scroll from the Nineteenth Century or earlier, ink and colors on paper, depicted a springtime scene of a groomer with a horse. Estimated $200/300, the 29¼-by-12½-inch scroll sold for $5,842.
Any discerning cricket would approve of a Nineteenth Century Chinese cricket cage shaped like a gourd with a carved hardwood top. At 5½ inches in length, it leaped way past its $150/250 valuation to land at $5,080.
An interesting photograph was offered in this sale. From 1948, “Spring Fantasia” was an original silver gelatin photograph of a boat in misty landscape with tree branches creating a silhouette taken by Chinese artist Chin San Long. Likely in its original frame with a paper seal in the right corner of photograph, it was inscribed from the artist to Earl J. Wilson along with season’s greetings and dated December 1948, Shanghai. Wilson became friends with Chin San Long during his time in China and collected several examples of his work included in this auction. This photograph garnered $4,318.
Notable vases in the sale included an Eighteenth Century Chinese celadon example, 16 inches high, in light bluegreen celadon with dragon, geometric and leaf decoration. Drilled for a lamp, it nevertheless earned $4,064. And an Eighteenth/Nineteenth Century Peking glass vase with Chien Lung mark in bottle form and turquoise color, 12 inches high, outperformed its $600/800 estimate and settled at $4,064.
Prices given include the buyer’s premium as stated by the auction house. Tremont’s next sale is scheduled for August 28 and will feature militaria and historical antiques. For information, www.tremontauctions.com or 617-795-1678.
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