ASIAN ART WEEK AT CHRISTIE’S LONDON IN MAY 2012

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London – Christie‟s Asian Art sales in New York this March realised $69 million, demonstrating Christie‟s continuing preeminence in this field across all Asian Art categories. This summer, Christie‟s London Asian Art Week will run from 15 – 18 May 2012, featuring a stellar array of works which further exemplify excellent provenance, rarity and beauty, with many highlights offered from important private collections. The sales include: Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 15 May at King Street; and at South Kensington: Interiors – dedicated to Chinese Art – on 16 May; Japanese Art & Design on 16 May; Masterful Exuberance, Artistic Craftsmanship of Imperial Japan, A Private Collection on 18 May and Chinese Ceramics, Works of Art and Textiles on 18 May.

Christie‟s London Asian Art week in summer 2012 opens with a superb offering of Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, on Tuesday 15 May 2012. Continuing Christie‟s longstanding and unrivalled strength of presenting Asian Art with excellent provenance, the auction features lots with exceptional provenance and three important private collections: Property from a Private English Collection; Property from a European Royal Family; The Property of the late 7th Earl of Harewood, Sold by Order of the Executors; The Leonard Gow Collection of Chinese Jade Carvings and Works of Art; The Fryers Collection of Chinese Art and An Important Private European Collection of Chinese Works of Art. Spanning the Shang dynasty (12th century B.C.) to the early 20th century, the sale features over 400 lots with an emphasis on rarity, beauty, imperial manufacture and fine condition, with a particularly strong array of important jades, as well as stellar ceramics, bronzes and hard stones. With estimates ranging from £1,000 to £1.2 million the sale is expected to realise in excess of £12 million.

Leading the auction is a magnificent pair of recently rediscovered large Imperial famille rose vases, Jiaqing Iron-red seal marks and of the period (1796-1820), which are offered from the property of a Private English Collection (estimate: £800,000-£1.2 million). Having been in the same family since the early 20th century, their importance and value was not known until a recent Christie‟s valuation. The Property of the Late 7th Earl of Harewood, Sold by Order of the Executors features another ceramic highlight, a large and very rare coral-ground famille rose jardinière, Qianlong mark and of the period (1736-1795) (estimate: £200,000-300,000). The acanthus leaves reflect the strong influence of European Rococo styles which were popular from the early Qing period; this specific motif was a particular favourite with the Emperor Qianlong. From the same period is a pair of finely enamelled famille rose „hundred boys‟ jars and covers, incised iron-red six-character seal marks and of the period (1736-1795) (estimate: £150,00-200,000). It is rare for such jars to be offered as a pair complete with their covers. Traditionally this motif represents the wish for abundant offspring, in particular sons, and wealth. The festive nature of the design brings great vivacity to the composition.

The bountiful array of important Jades meets the ongoing strength of demand for excellent examples in this medium, crossing the spectrum of colours. From the Property of a European Royal Family, there is a spectacular massive Imperial spinach green Jade disc, Bi (£400,000-600,000). Measuring an impressive 16 in. (40.7 cm.) diameter, the disc is beautifully and thickly carved from a substantial jade boulder, and is finished with an attractive soft polish. It is supported on a finely cast stand consisting of two powerful writhing dragons amidst clouds. It appears to have been appreciated by royal households in both China and Europe and it is likely that both the jade bi and its bronze stand were made for the Qianlong Emperor (1736-95), prior to being purchased 300 years later by an important European private collector and gifted to a European royal family in the 1950s.

The Qianlong Emperor (r.1736-95) was renowned for his patronage and appreciation of the arts and one of his great passions was jade. It is very rare to find a pair of jade boxes of this large size exhibited by a pair of superb white jade mughal-style ‘chrysanthemum’ boxes and covers, Qianlong period (1736-1795), offered from the Property from an Important Private European Collection (estimate: £300,000-500,000). Previously in The Buchanan-Jardine Collection, these boxes and covers would have to have been carved from a large boulder of stone of even colour throughout. This collection was formed in the early 1970‟s, purchased from Spink & Sons; it is expected to realise in excess of £500,000. Also offered in the sale is a remarkable set of three 18th century celadon jade „dragon‟ seals are offered at a similar price level. Each is carved with lines extracted from famous poems composed by Qu Yuan (340-278 BC) of the Chu Kingdom, in the Warring States period (475-221 BC) and is expected to realise £400,000-500,000).

Property from The Leonard Gow Collection of Chinese Jade Carvings and Works of Art (Lots 192 – 204) is expected to realise in excess of £200,000. It includes a very distinctively shaped pale celadon jade archaistic vessel and cover, Tulu, Qianlong period (1736-1795) (estimate: £80,000-120,000), which was carved in imitation of an archaic bronze form, that would have been used to hold artist’s materials. Gow was a successful Scottish shipping magnate whose discerning eye for Chinese porcelain – having built one of the finest collections of Qing ceramics in the early years of the twentieth century – also extended to jade carvings and other Chinese works of art.
The Fryers Collection of Chinese Art comprises 23 works including extremely fine jade carvings as well as pieces of cloisonné enamel and glass works of art, with further works being sold at South Kensington later in the week. This portion of the collection is expected to realise in excess of £600,000. With a keen eye for top quality pieces, Dr Gordon Fryers (1922-2008) and Dr Rosemary Fryers (1922-1994), who were both medical doctors, amassed this collection in the mid-20th century, with many pieces from leading auction houses and dealers in London. Their fascination in Chinese culture began in the late 1940s when they moved to Singapore. The top lots in this collection include a finely carved pale
celadon jade circular table screen, Qianlong period (1736-1795) (estimate: £80,000 – 120,000); a pale
celadon jade naturalistic carving of a bitter melon on a carved ivory stand (estimate: £60,000-80,000) and a rare white ground famille rose Qianlong mark and period tripod censer (1736-1795) (estimate: £60,000-80,000).

Elsewhere in the sale is an important and very rare pair of large imperial bronze altar vases, Qianlong cast six-character marks within a rectangular panel and of the period (1736-1795) (estimate: £300,000-500,000). Each powerfully and heavily cast vase is decorated to either side with a pair of confronted five-clawed writhing dragons in pursuit of the flaming pearl and all amidst vaporous clouds. This pair of magnificent vases exemplifies the artistic and technical quality of bronze vessels cast for the Imperial court. They would have been made as part of a five-piece temple or altar garniture comprising a censer, a pair of vases and a pair of pricket candlesticks, all of equally impressive size and weight. Having been acquired in Belgium in the 1980s, they are being offered from the Property of a Lady. Other highlights include a magnificent pair of painted enamel jardinières with inset hardstones the jardinières 18th century, the stem inserts 18th/19th century, which are offered from the Property of a Gentleman (estimate: £150,000-200,000). Beautifully painted with soft tones of pink, red, yellow and blue, on a pale lilac ground, they are part of a well-documented group of wares richly embellished with hardstones and semi-precious stones.

 

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