Published: October 10, 2006
Almost at the very end of the recent weeklong Asian arts sale at Eldred’s, it was a Twentieth Century painting that was the top lot. Lin Fengmian’s portrait on paper of two ladies achieved $27,600. Fengmian, born in China in 1900, sold his first painting at age nine. This painting came from a Pennsylvania consignor and went to a buyer in Singapore.
Another Twentieth Century artwork was a scroll painting on paper by Hsu Pei-hung of two horses watering at a stream that sold for $13,800.
A scroll painting on paper of looming mountains above pine trees by Fu Bao-Shih, also a Twentieth Century Chinese artist, sold for $9,775 and a scroll painting of a mountain landscape with sage and pavilions by Chang Dai Chein realized $6,000 from an American collector. Another scroll painting on paper of a mountain with pavilions and a waterfall by Xie Zhiliu sold for $6,900. The painting bore a calligraphic inscription and three seal marks.
Snuff bottles brought robust prices also. The all-out winner was an Eighteenth Century black and white jade example carved by an artist of the Soochow School that sold for $15,600 to a Hong Kong bidder, who was a big buyer overall. The ovoid jade bottle was carved in a relief image of travelers in rocky terrain with a fine calligraphic inscription on the reverse and museum numbers on the bottom. The stopper was of simulated coral.
This year’s Asian week sale is the 37th for John Schofield under whose direction sales are run. His stamina is exceptional. The Asian sales typically attract a group of exceptionally focused bidders and this week was no exception. Although fewer bidders show up for these sales, the ones who do so more than make up for the numbers by the strength of their bidding. Of the nearly 3,000 lots across the block, Chinese arts represented the strongest area. Speaking by telephone a few days after the sale Schofield estimated that most of the Japanese lots had been bought by North American buyers and the 20 to 30 percent of the other Asian pieces had gone back to Asia.
Bidding on a Twentieth Century rock crystal snuff bottle painted on the interior by Ma Shao-hsuan with a portrait of a seated mandarin in a fur hat opened at $1,800 and sailed straight away to $7,800.
Another rock crystal example was painted on the interior by Yeh Chun-san with a depiction of court figures on one side and deer and crane on the other and sold for $4,200. The bottle, which was topped with an amethyst stopper, was dated autumn 1930.
A rectangular white jade snuff bottle from the Eighteenth Century brought $3,335.
When snuff bottles were set out for the sale preview, they made for a stunning array of color and shape. Interest in them was strong. A Twentieth Century enameled milk glass snuff bottle with a mockingbird on one side and a quail on the other sold for $4,500. The bottle bore a four-character Ch’ien Lung mark on the base. It was made in the One Bottle Studio and purchased in 1989 from San Francisco dealer C.K. Liang.
An Eighteenth Century Canton enamel snuff bottle decorated with an image of three children and a maiden in a landscape brought $2,875.
A beautiful early Twentieth Century glass snuff bottle that was painted on the interior by Ma Shao-hsuan with a Chu River landscape on one side and calligraphy on the other sold on the Internet for $4,500.
A modern glass snuff bottle painted on the interior with pandas by Wang His-san sold on the Internet for $3,240. A Chalcedony agate snuff bottle with a goose amid marsh grasses took $2,070. A Nineteenth Century chalcedony example had an abstract design of a bull’s-eye that gave it a very contemporary look. It brought $1,150, twice the estimate.
A small (5 ¼ inches) wutsai porcelain plate of the K’ang Hsi period was decorated on the interior with a green and blue dragon and on the exterior with an equally beautiful crane and cloud design and sold for $8,050. A famille verte porcelain bowl from the same period had a flying horse decoration and fetched $4,500.
A pair of double-gourd form porcelain vases in a millefiore design sold for $4,800. Each bore a six-character Tao Kuang mark.
An Eighteenth or early Nineteenth Century 8-inch white jade pi carved with a chih lung dragon, signifying scholarliness, sold for $6,900. An ethereal looking white jade belt buckle carved with dragons and having a dragon’s head clasp sold for $4,025. Noting the particular strength of white jade auctioneer Schofield observed as he hammered down a white jade pendant in the form of a shoe for $660, “This is something I would have left in the house a few years ago.”
Belt buckles were also desirable. An ivory belt example with a hanger carved beautifully in a carp and four-clawed dragon design sold for $2,990. A Nineteenth Century green jadeite example with a pierced relief design of chih lung dragons went for $5,175.
A cloisonné rectangular vase with bat, musical stone and lotus designs on a blue ground sold for $6,000. The Eighteenth Century vase had gilded dragon-form handles. A pair of cloisonné enamel pricket candlesticks, each topped with a nephrite jade animal seated on lotus blossoms, one a seated horse and the other a seated dog, realized $5,750 from the same bidder who paid $2,990 for a gilt bronze Buddha figure from the Ming period.
A silver bronze mirror made during the T’ang dynasty in flower form with a goose and lotus design realized $4,024.
Two Chinese dragon robes that had been in the collection of Laurance Rockefeller were among the textiles that commanded interest. An early Nineteenth Century K’ossu example with a five-clawed dragon design sold for $4,200 and a K’ossu nine-dragon robe with a five-clawed dragon design on a blue ground went for $3,360.
Naughty pictures from the Nineteenth Century drew a lot of eyes. A collection of ten erotic paintings on paper of various scenes had been mounted later as a hand scroll and sold for $3,450. Another group of 26 erotic pictures on silk, also mounted as a hand scroll, sold for $2,530.
Two bronze censers stirred up the sale room when a bidder under the tent took a sunspot censer with melon ribbing and a six character Hsuan Te mark on the base for $4,313 after spirited phone competition. A late Sixteenth or early Seventeenth Century sunspot censer with the “Chen Wah” commendation mark brought $3,000.
A framed tile painting from around 1900 that depicted a lohan with a spade sold for $2,875 against the estimated $250/350. A collection of six Nineteenth Century fingernail covers comprising two in gilt metal with stone inlay, two in silver and enamel and two in silver and shell brought $288.
Netsukes were the hotspots of the Japanese material that crossed the block. A 5-inch Eighteenth Century wood example in the form of a sennin calling a dragon from a beggar’s bowl sold for $9,200. A polychrome wood netsuke that was attributed to Yoshimura Shuzan, was also created in the Eighteenth Century in the form of an oni in the costume of a sennin, also brought $9,200. An Eighteenth Century wood netsuke in the form of the King of the East with an octopus crown and holding an openwork ball with a loose carved pearl within sold for $8,050.
A Nineteenth Century ivory Shunga netsuke in the form of a pearl diver and an octopus by Gyokumin went for $8,050 and an ivory netsuke in the form of a curly-haired shishi scratching his ear with a loose ball carved in the mouth brought $5,750, while another ivory netsuke dog hoarding an abalone went for $5,175.
A silver vase with a crane and bamboo decoration on one side and a bird and a rockery on the other was signed “Miyata Noguaiyo saku.” It brought $7,475. A handsome 7 ½ -inch pair of silver vases inlaid with gold, kirikane and copper in a shibuichi design of a rooster and a songbird realized $6,325.
A gold lacquer 23-inch figure of Buddha on a multi-tiered lotus throne from the Edo period sold for $6,900. The image had descended in the family of Philip Livingston, a New York signer of the Declaration of Independence.
A dramatic Meiji period figure of an eagle in shakudo, gold and bronze had spread wings and was perched on a tree stump. It sold for $5,175. A bronze group in which two tigers attack an elephant with ivory tusks realized $2,070. A pair of sentoku bronze vases with a butterfly and flower decoration in gold, copper and silver sold for $4,025.
A cloisonné enamel vase attributed to Namikawa Yasuyuki with a floral design estimated at $800/1,200 went for $4,888. A signed Meiji period ivory tusk vase carved with a colony of moneys in a landscape also brought $4,888.
A Meiji period archery set in black lacquer with gilt comprising a bow with gold, shakudo and silver mounts, eight signed arrows in a stand decorated with maple leaves, all of which was housed in a case, also decorated with maple leaves. The set sold for $5,750.
A handsome Nineteenth Century gold lacquer picnic set comprising a four-part bentobaku, a tokkuri and five trays in a carrying case decorated with birds and willow trees sold for $3,220.
Bidders loved a Nabeshima porcelain dish in flower form with a passionflower decoration and a peony decoration on the exterior and drove its price well past the $400/600 estimate to $5,175.
Paul Jacoulet prints, all but eight of which came from the collection of Bill and Claire Julien, were exceptionally strong this year. “The Mysterious Pacific. South Seas” that was published July 6, 1951 sold for $10,350. The print, which depicted a mermaid above a whirlpool, was signed by Jacoulet and bore the seals of the carver, Kentaro Maeda, and the printer, Tetsunosuke Honda. Jacoulet’s 1959 “The Black Lotus” was signed and bore the seals of the carver Maeda and the publisher Honda, and sold for $7,475.
Two rare Jacoulet Christmas cards from the 1938 season, “Korean Flower Seller” and “Chinese Poet,” brought $5,643 and the 1938 print “Yagourouh et Mio” brought $5,175 from a buyer who has gathered an impressive collection over the years.
The 1956 print by Kiyoshi Saito, “Resting (Mexico)” bore a label indicating that it was “self-carved, self printed.” It realized $6,600. Among a selection of prints by Kawasi Hasui was a coastal snow scene marked with a diamond seal that sold for $4,500.
All prices quoted reflect the 15 percent buyer’s premium. For information, www.eldreds.com or 508-385-3116.
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