Published: March 2, 2018
NEW BRAUNFELS, TEXAS — When Lark Mason Associates offered what seemed to be a Chinese painted paper ten-fold screen dating from the Kangxi period with an estimate of $30/50,000 in his October 25, 2017 sale, imagine the surprise and excitement that ensued when the final price reached a record-breaking $562,500, 20 times more than the original price.
The subject, depicting a scene from Buddhist paradise, was exquisitely painted and mounted on a wood frame similar in style to other Chinese Eighteenth Century examples. The screen had been brought in by the owner to PBS Antiques Roadshow in Bismarck, N.D., in 2006 in an effort to discover the age and value. The owner had no expectations of value but was curious if it was wallpaper affixed to a wood frame or something more. It had been the legacy of a distant relative and nothing much was known about it. For years the screen had been stored in a damp basement and the backing was damaged by moisture, but the painted panels were in nearly untouched condition.
Said Lark Mason, “The exquisitely rendered figures among clouds and droppable pavilions seemed typical of Chinese works from the Kangxi period and we expected the screen to realize in the range of $30/50,000.” According to Mason, Chinese screens of this period almost always have 12 panels, and the backing material, composed of Chinese printed newsprint, seemed to confirm the Chinese origin. With this assumption, the staff of Lark Mason Associates watched in amazement as the few Chinese bidders quickly dropped out of the competition on the iGavel Auctions website and were replaced by a determined group of bidders from Korea.
Early Korean paintings include a small number of very rare works painted in a Chinese style and employing Chinese subject matter. Bidding finally ended at $562,500, and it sold to a notable Korean dealer. Over a period of several months the staff of Lark Mason Associates and the winning bidder from Korea arranged a meeting to pick up the screen from Lark Mason Associates offices in New Braunfels. Upon the return of the screen to Korea, the purchaser brought together a number of esteemed Korean painting experts who stood silently admiring a work that was proclaimed by them to be one of the finest examples of its type. The screen is now rightfully returned to its home after a sojourn of several generations in the United States.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For information, www.larkmasonassociates.com or 212-289-5524.
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