China Trade Painting Brings $184,000 at Northeast Maritime Auction
Sales of $5 Million Represent a Record for the Firm
PORTSMOUTH, N.H. – Coming on the heels of Ron Bourgeault’s well-received offerings of Americana and the Weld Collection, Bourgeault’s Northeast Auctions sold – during an August 19 and 20 Marine and China Trade event – a China Trade painting for $184,000, with premium. A phone bidder won the large, approximately 25-by-50-inch work, which retained its original Chinese Chippendale ebonized frame and gold liner, against an absentee bid.
The family of Abiel Abbot Low originally commissioned the circa 1850 painting, which is attributed to Youqua (Chinese, active 1845-1885); the Low brothers were prominent traders during that period. The work’s landscape depicted the hongs, or trade buildings, of Canton that were constructed along the Pearl River after the disastrous fire of 1842 – one that eliminated buildings erected by Westerners – and included the church built in 1847. The provenance of the painting from 1850 to the present is well known.
This auction was the third presentation of the painting on the market in ten months. It sold at Christie’s Important American Furniture, Folk Art, and Chinese Export Porcelain auction of October 14, 1999 as lot 15 for $145,500 (with premium). Last January, it was offered at the Winter Antiques Show with a much higher price on it, but it did not sell. Speculation before this auction was the painting might have been overexposed in the market.
However, specialist Carl Crossman told correspondent Bob Jackman, “I am confident that the painting will sell within the estimated range ($150/200,000), and it might go further since it is so outstanding. However, freshness should not be overlooked as a factor. Last year the two hong paintings that did so well at our auction were fresh to the market when we offered them.”
With the premium, total sales for this auction by Northeast reached $5,281,000, and broke the firm’s record for a maritime sale that was established as $3 million last year. That had been the top grossing maritime auction held in North America in the past 12 months.
A full review of this sale will appear in next week’s Antiques and The Arts Weekly.