Published: December 9, 2008
A parcel gilt-bronze figure of Buddha Shakyamuni in lotus position brought $676,309 at the 36th Special Auction of Asian Art at Nagel Auktionen, November 10‱1, going to a buyer from Hong Kong. This price is the second-highest auction result of this autumn season for Asian art in Europe. The highest single result was $1,240,043 set by Christie’s in London for a jade belt hook of the Western Han dynasty.
Nagel’s knockdown marks the peak of an overall quite successful auction, which ended with a total result of $8,338,672. Around 60 percent of the more than 2,000 lots were sold. Compared to the total estimated value, this makes for a sales quota of 94 percent by value. These figures show that the market for Chinese art is still in top form †at least in Stuttgart.
The figure of Buddha Shakyamuni is from the Qing dynasty, Kangxi period and was acquired in Beijing in the 1920s. It ended up in a collection in Baden-Baden and was last auctioned at Nagel in 1994.
The other bronze figures at this auction also sold well. Among the highest results were the $440,458 for which a large imperial part-gilt altar statue of Butadhamara-Vajrapani went to a private collector from Beijing. The same buyer paid $287,895 for a Ming dynasty gilt bronze figure of seated Guan Yin.
A miniature imperial shrine made of silver with a gold and lapis lazuli figure of Buddha Amitayus inside went to $321,623. An inscription dates the travel shrine to the year 1767. Hence, it was made in the 32nd year of the Qianlong period, when the cult of Amitayus had reached its high point.
Imperial porcelain had no trouble finding buyers, either. A private customer from Hong Kong was willing to bid $372,379 for an early Song dynasty vase with “Guan” glaze. A Hong Kong collector parted with $169,407 for a finely decorated famille rose vase of the Qianlong period.
One of the biggest surprises of the auction was a lovely round bowl with a green background that went to a motivated private German collector for $152,453 †against stiff competition from international bidders. The same customer also successfully battled for a vase with green glaze over a black body in the form of a water chestnut ($105,087) and a round bowl with dragon medallions ($64,470).
There were also increases at the call of a collection of blanc-de-chine objects, among which a very large, finely modeled figure of Guan Yin from the Eighteenth Century was the most expensive lot, fetching $61,084.
Ivory objects were led by a fine carved pair of the emperor and the empress seated on thrones, which were highly sought after. The 11¼-inch-high figures †the emperor on a dragon throne, the empress on a phoenix throne †came to $84,758 and went to Chak’s Gallery in Hong Kong. An ancestor stele bearing the inscription “All beings doth he lead across” brought $61,019.
Objects of jade also met the taste of the public. A rare set consisting of a teapot and two cups made of “chicken bone” jade realized $254,282. A “Gu” shaped vase from the Eighteenth⁎ineteenth Century brought $130,572.
While it was impossible to detect a slump in the bidding for Chinese art, an upturn in the area of Japanese art was decidedly absent.
All prices include the buyer’s premium. Prices were converted from euros to dollars at the rate of ¬‱ to $1.274.
Nagel Auktionen is at Neckarstrasse 189-191. For information, www.auction.de or 49 11 649 690.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
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