Published: December 23, 2016
ALAMEDA, CALIF. — Michaan’s December 18 Asian art auction was the firm’s final event of the year, where Asian art has been a strong category since the founding of the auction house. A highlight of the sale was a jade table screen that realized $100,300. The screen is crafted from a thick plaque of semitranslucent pale celadon jade, carved in high relief on both sides with landscape scenes centered on an immortal with his attendant and on the symbolic “three friends of winter” trees.
Many other jade lots surpassed estimates and sold well, including a Ming dynasty jade carving of a dog, which brought $17,700. A price of $16,520 was realized for a collection of eight jade toggles. These small animal, fruit and figural form carvings were used as counterweights on the cords of small bags; a collection of Chinese jade toggles can be found at the Field Museum in Chicago. Jade pieces are offered every month at Michaan’s auctions, in the Asian art department and also in jewelry.
An impressive price was paid for an elaborate tall Chinese cloisonné enamel vase. The surface of this richly colored vase is covered in stylized motifs and its neck is encircled by charming figures of smiling boys, wrought of gilt-bronze and mounted to the vase in playful climbing poses. It sold for $100,300, the top result among many successful lots of cloisonné enamel pieces from a large private collection. A stately covered brazier of cloisonné and gilt-bronze brought $35,400. The piece has an elegant quatrefoil form and many symbolic decorations, including lotus blooms, lions and dragons and is topped by a fierce qilin finial. The new year will bring more old cloisonné enamel pieces to auction at Michaan’s, beginning with the monthly estate sale on January 7, which presents vases, censers, animal figures, and chargers, among many others.
Huanghuali wood is always desired by Michaan’s buyers, who appreciate its rarity and enduring beauty. The lustrous wood is valued for its intricate grain that includes small whorls known as “ghost faces,” as well as patterns in the grain that mimic mountain peaks. In the December 18 sale, a large huanghuali altar coffer brought $50,150, and a huanghuali veneered coffer sold for $35,400.
Among the porcelains offered in the auction was a dramatic Wucai “dragon” bowl, which fetched $14,160. Ceramics included a pair of graceful Republic period polychrome enamel vases, which sold for $14,160. Scroll paintings included a hand scroll of reeds and wild geese after Ma Lin, $9,440, and a silk hand scroll depicting celestial figures and bearing the signature of Jiao Bingzhen, also $9,440. “Cherry Blossom Village,” in the style of Wen Boren (1502–1575), sold for $8,850. Another highlight was an early Qing dynasty imperial edict written in Manchu text with Chinese characters on silk brocade, stamped with a large seal impression. It finished at $15,340.
Prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
“Collectors continue to find value in high-quality pieces,” said specialist Harry Huang, “and we’re pleased that we can connect buyers with the treasures they desire.”
Michaan’s next sale of Asian art will take place on June 18. For information, www.michaans.com or 510-740-0220.
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