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Highlights of Chinese Art at Asia Week

August 25, 2010

Pieces from private collections are the focus at Christie’s, including property from the Arthur M. Sackler collection and The Sze Yuan Tang Archaic Bronzes from the Anthony Hardy Collection (both 16 September).

Bronze Wine Vessel and Cover (Fangyi), 12th-11th Century BCE. Estimate: $1,200,000-1,800,000 (Image: Christie's)

The 120+ Hardy bronzes date predominantly to the late Shang dynasty (c. 16th-11th centuries BCE), during the Golden Age of ancient Chinese bronzecasting, and are estimated in excess of $15 million. The sale catalogue (also freely available online as an e-catalogue) includes two very interesting essays: a conversation between Hardy and Christie’s Theow H. Tow (Christie’s Honorary Chairman, Asia and Deputy Chairman, Americas), and “The Four ‘Ps’ in Bronze Collecting” by Jenny So, Chinese University of Hong Kong. So lists the four “Ps” as Precision, Pictogram, Patina, and Provenance, all of which are naturally present throughout the Hardy collection. While the essay focuses primarily on the history and quality of the Hardy collection, it is also a blitzkrieg introduction to the history of Chinese bronze collecting in the West.

Ceramics from the Dr. and Mrs. William L. Corbin Collection from the core of Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art (September 17):

Among the 90 lots of varied material, featuring impeccable and long-standing provenance, the highlights include a rare ‘numbered’ Junyao hexagonal tripod ‘narcissus’ bowl, Yuan/early Ming dynasty, 14th-15th century (estimate: $300,000-500,000).  This exceptional vessel, with its milky-blue interior and copper-blush exterior, bears the remains of an imperial inscription on its base which would have given the name of the particular palace in which it was kept.  Additional monochrome ceramics include an extremely rare pale celadon-glazed compressed globular jar, Yongle period (1403-1425) (estimate: $300,000-500,000); a very rare Imperial white-glazed deep bowl, Chenghua six-character mark in underglaze blue within a double circle and of the period (1465-1487) (estimate: $300,000-500,000); and a very rare imperial yellow-glazed dish, Chenghua six-character mark in underglaze blue within a double circle and of the period (1465-1487) (estimate: $300,000-500,000).

At Sotheby’s, the sale to watch will be the Joe Grimberg Collection of Chinese Snuff Bottles (September 14). ARTINFO reports that the New Chinese Collector is expected to be a major presence at the sale, both for the lower prices of snuff bottles and the increasing Chinese interest in collecting the objects.

“If you’re not ready to buy an example of imperial porcelain for $10 million, you can go for something that is more affordable,” [Sotheby’s specialist Yng-Ru Chen] said. Asked about the possibility of a major turnout of mainland Chinese buyers, Chen said, “I have been spending 75 percent of my time speaking Mandarin.”

Also on offer at Sotheby’s is a Guangxu Period (1875-1908) painting, one of seventeen in Set of Seventeen Paintings Commemorating the Victories of The Muslim Rebellion in the Northwest (est. $120,000-$150,000). reports that this third panel comes from a private collection, and has been off the market for over 50 years

Two paintings from the same set are currently in the University of Alberta’s Mactaggart Art Collection. This painting’s buyer will need significant wall space: the other paintings from this series in the Mactaggart Art Collection are approximately 1.5 meters (5 feet) tall and 3 meters (10 feet) wide.


From, events and exhibitions at Asian art dealers:

At the Ralph M. Chait Galleries, 724 Fifth Avenue, An Autumn Feast of Color: Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art will showcase an array of polychrome decorated porcelains and works of art of superb quality from a private collection. One of the highlights is a very rare pair of 18th century painted ivory, jade and hardstone appliqué figures of a court lady and gentleman.

Literati Musing: Inscriptions on Chinese Paintings and Scholar Objects, will be held at China 2000 Fine Art, 434A East 75th Street. Like the contemporary Twitter, ancient inscriptions on Chinese art were the momentary (and now art historically monumental) thoughts about society, relationships, politics, and aesthetics of the literati. Karen and Leon Wender gathered together objects for the scholar’s desk and Chinese paintings that bear inscriptions by eminent scholars and calligraphers of Chinese history. The scholar’s words, literally etched in stone or wood or written with indelible ink on paper, provide clues to where they were at particular times in their lives and offer their knowledge about the object or the painting upon which they inscribe their thoughts. Among the exhibition’s highlights is an Important Scholar Rock Anhui Inkstone with calligraphy by Ding Jing, dated 1750 and a Ming dynasty poem carved onto on a soapstone seal-paste box by Deng Shiru, a very important calligrapher and seal carver from the 18th century.

Kaikodo, 74 East 79th Street, presents Buddhist Lives, which includes Chinese and Japanese paintings from the 14th century to contemporary works featuring images of the Buddha along with stone and gilt bronze Buddhist sculpture. The paintings cover a wide range of styles and subjects, from an early image of Sakyamuni attributed to the Yuan-dynasty painter Yan Hui, to several paintings of lohan dating to the Ming and Qing dynasties to a “Bodhidharma Meditating” by Zhang Daqian painted in the 1930’s. The most recent works include stamped images of the Buddha by Mansheng Wang, who had a successful exhibition at the Today Museum in Beijing this summer, and a photograph by Michael Cherney of a bodhisattva from a Tang-period Buddhist cave printed on xuan paper and mounted as a hanging scroll. Japanese paintings featured in the exhibition include a large and impressive “Neihanzu” (death of the Buddha), Sesshin’s “Daruma,” Isshi’s “Kannon,” and Kano Tanyu’s “Jizo.”

Marble at M D Flacks, Ltd. 32 East 57th Street, will feature small marble treasures including: A Leaf-shaped Tray, circa 17th-early 18th century; a rare 18th century white marble vase, and a rare Censor (17th-early 18th century) that is identical in shape to ceramic and bronze examples from the Ming and early Qing dynasties. According to Marcus Flacks, this is the first time that an exhibition solely concentrated on White Marble, sometimes referred to as Chinese White Jade, has been mounted. “There was a rich tradition of skilled masonry in China and the quality and variety included in this unique show affords us a look into that culture,” Flacks said.

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