Frenetic setup day for Chen Dapeng at Olympia Art & Antiques Fair!

Today was a frenetic setup day for the Olympia Winter Art & Antiques Fair which opens at 5pm on Monday with a glitzy private view. On Shanghai sculptor Chen Dapeng’s stand it was all go. At 0800 in the morning, three large trucks containing almost 50 sculptures waited in line to decant their cargo all packed in wooden packing cases lately arrived from Shanghai. By 5pm all were unpacked and the stand completed! Our pictures tell the story.



0900 Saturday Unpacking of crates begins . . .


1700 The stand is all set up!  Photo Paul Harris


The set up team from Fine Art UK together with Chen Dapeng (second from right). Photo Paul Harris

Chen Dapeng’s secret sculpture is of . . . H M Queen Elizabeth II

exclusive sloping to top

It can now be revealed, exclusively by this site, that the top secret sculpture that Chinese sculptor Chen Dapeng has been working on since May of this year is of the British Queen, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Chen Dapeng with clay QE2

A September 2015 picture of Chen Dapeng working on the clay version of his sculpture of HM Queen Elizabeth II  Copyright Photo by Paul Harris

This information will be revealed tomorrow morning at 1030 Beijing time (0330 UK time) at a press conference being held in the Chinese capital’s No. 1 prestige venue, The Great Hall of the People. It will also be revealed that Chen Dapeng is to be recognised by the Chinese government as official sculptor for UK-China Cultural Exchange Year.

On Friday, Chen Dapeng and his team will leave China and fly to London. The bust of the Queen – the final version is to be in priceless white porcelain crafted by Jingdezhen’s Hanguang Factory – will go on public show on the evening of Monday, November 2 at the opening party for this year’s Olympia Winter Art & Antiques Fair.

Now there are 25 Asian Art auctions in the UK during November . . .

Further to our recent story highlighting the extraordinary number of Asian Art and Antiques Auctions taking place all over the UK during the month of November 2015, we have now identified a further five which takes up the grand total for the month to twenty-five!

Recent additions to our list include Capes Dunn in Manchester, Tom Keane’s The Swan at Tetwirth and Hannams in Selborne, who have a session with 400 lots. That makes almost one auction a day and, indeed, there are many days when there are two or three, often scattered over a wide area. The only solace for the hard pressed serious dealer or collector must surely be that some goodies are bound to fall through the net with such a plethora of offerings!

Expanding Asian Art in London to start November 5

aal logo

The annual Asian bean-feast Asian Art in London continues to grow apace. Its new handy vest-pocket sized catalogue is decidedly the thickest yet. There are more exhibitors than ever at the event which runs from November 5-14. New AAL participants include contemporary art galleries Art China, Gallery Elena Schukina (contemporary Koean photo artist Seung-Hwan) Oh and Paul Harris Asia Arts with the sculptures of Chen Dapeng at Olympia.

You can get a copy of the invaluable pocket catalogue (we use ours all the year round as an essential reference work in the office) by emailing or you can, of course consult the website

There are a couple of what might be termed ‘prestige events’. On November 5, the event opens with a symposium at The Royal Institution which is intriguingly entitled The Psychology of A Collector. Collectors intending to turn up will probably be relieved to hear that there are no qualified psychologists speaking so they need have no fears of any serious embarrassment! Attendance will knock you back £105 so you have a right to expect some special insights . . .

The following night the Gala Party takes place. This year it is at The Mandarin Oriental and it celebrates the UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange with support from the Chinese Embassy. Although he has been rushed off his feet by the long, intensive visit of President Xi Jinping last week, you can expect to see Ambassador Li Xiaoming and several brace of Chinese dignitaries basking in the glow of last week’s successful visit. Tickets for the bash are available at a mere £60 a go.

Other definite notes for the diary are the drinks party rounds on Saturday November 7 (Kensington Church Street), Sunday November 8 (St James’s) and Monday November 9 (Mayfair). It is an excellent series of opportunities to get around the exhibitors without cutting into the routines of actual business. They’re also free . . .

We shall be posting news and pictures on


Chiswick are planning a tea party . . .

On 3 November Chiswick Auctions will be holding a special curated sale at 2pm, “THE ART OF TEA”, following on from their usual “ASIAN ART” sale.

The sale explores tea drinking culture of the Far East as well as tea drinking in art, with examples from China, Japan, Tibet and Vietnam.

The sale includes teapots, tea cups, tea caddies, kettles, trays, artworks and paintings in a wide range of material including porcelain, lacquer, jade, agate, silver, canton enamel, cloisonné enamel, iron, bronze, tin, pewter, rosewood, burl walnut and bamboo.

Dedicated sections of the sale have been allocated to Cadogan teapots, export ware, caddies, Song ware, Tetsubin kettles, clobbered ware, yixing ware, trays, silver, Tibetan teaware and tea-themed works of art.

200 years of the Cadogan Teapot:

Cadogan teapots, popularised in the West by Lord Cadogan (1675 – 1726) to whom they owe their name, have for centuries delighted the Western market for their puzzling property of being filled through the base. Although produced primarily for the export market since the early Qing (lots 261-263), they were circulated domestically, including across the Sino-Korean peninsula (lot 260), from before the late Ming. Some have argued that these vessels were designed as waterpots due to the challenge of cleaning their interior and lot 260 provides evidence for this case. Nevertheless, their position within tea history in the West is clearly evident.

The Art of the Tray

The tray, like other aspects of tea-drinking paraphernalia is an art-form borne of necessity. Ranging from the saucer (lot 355), an individual support for a single cup, to objects capable of supporting a whole tea service (lot 358), the tray offers a unique combination of three dimensional form and two dimensional surface. This surface, usually framed within a decorated rim, can be carved (lots 350 and 352), painted (354), inlaid with mother of pearl (351), silver (358), brass and copper (353), or even left blank to draw attention to the natural qualities of the material (356 and 357).


Lot 350

Lot 350 – A CHINESE CINNABAR LACQUER BIRD AND FLOWER TRAY. Late Ming, early 17th Century. Of square form with canted corners, shallow everted sides supported on a broad foot and slightly recessed base, the interior carved and incised through layers of rich cinnabar lacquer with a pair of birds among peonies above a gnarled rock, the sky incised with floral diapers which continue over the sides at the centre of which is a peony flower head, 35 x 35cm. 庆宜堂制 明代 红漆花鸟盘 Literature: For a closely related table screen see Dragon and Phoenix: Chinese Lacquer Ware: the Lee Family Collection, Tokyo, 1990, cat no 72. Estimate: £5,000-£7,000

Lot 351 – A CHINESE MOTHER OF PEARL INLAID LACQUER TRAY. Ming Dynasty, 16th Century. Of rectangular form with everted rim supported on a short foot, the interior decorated in mother-of-pearl with six boys at 明代 珍珠母镶嵌黑漆托盘play under pine and flowering prunus branches, within a border of bird and flower panels against a diaper ground, 28.5 x 48cm. Estimate: £1,000-£2,000


Lot 351



Chen Dapeng en route to Olympia via The Great Hall of the People


Chen Dapeng in his Shanghai studio                                       Photo Paul Harris

Shanghai sculptor Chen Dapeng, who will be at Olympia Winter Art & Antiques Fair November 2-8 with a massive 200 sg m stand, is to stop en route to London and hold a press conference in Beijing’s top venue, The Great Hall of the People in Tianneman Square.

The press conference will be at 1030 hours next Wednesday October 28 with a live internet stream and coverage by Chinese national broadcaster CCTV. Chen Dapeng will announce that he is newly recognised by the government of the PRC as an official part of UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange.

He will also reveal the identity of the important British figure he has just finished sculpting and there may even be a physical sighting of the mystery sculpture which he will then bring to London for a press photo call at Olympia on November 2, followed by the official unveiling during the Olympia Collectors’ Preview that evening..



Jorge Welsh to mount exhibition of Chinese painted enamels on copper

wallfountain_detail_China of All Colours  Detail Photo Jorge Welsh

Having amassed a collection of over 160 Chinese enamelled copper objects, Jorge Welsh of London’s Kensington Church Street have announced their upcoming exhibition, ‘China of All Colours: Painted Enamels on Copper’. This exhibition will provide a rare opportunity to see a large number of pieces from this fascinating area within the field of Chinese art, and also to explore the formal and decorative similarities with China’s principal artistic export, porcelain.

This intriguing group of objects were developed during the first half of the 18th century, predominately produced in the Qianlong period (1736-1795) and continuing into the 19th century. Made for the export and domestic markets, as well for the imperial courts in Beijing, this type of ware was referred to as yang ci in Chinese—literally ‘foreign porcelain’—becoming known as ‘Canton enamel’ after the main centre of production in China. Produced in relatively small quantities when compared to the production of porcelain, these copper objects were coated with an initial layer of white or turquoise enamel and over-decorated with designs in bright polychrome enamels, some of which are comparable to those found on Chinese porcelain. While porcelain has benefited from much scholarly attention, the subject of Chinese painted enamels on copper remains little explored.

Jorge Welsh said this week: “Our aim with the exhibition is to shed light on this fascinating topic, drawing attention to the specific characteristics of the copperwares, the details and quality of the painting, the objects’ various shapes and utilities, while asking questions that will expand our understanding of the production process and trade patterns.”

Luísa Vinhais explained the title of the exhibition: “We have dedicated many hours to the study of this large group of Chinese painted enamels on copper, acquired over a long period, and now materialising in the exhibition ‘China of All Colours’, a phrase first used by the British Ambassador, Philip Dormer Stanhope in a letter of 1728. This document is one of the earliest known records of Chinese enamelled copper objects in the West. Today these beautiful copperwares, with a very similar look and feel to that of Chinese porcelain, remain an enticing group, which add value and interest to any collection of artworks from the Qing dynasty.”

Some of the highlights of this exhibition include:

  • A Wall Fountain

wallfountain_China of All Colours_JorgeWelsh

China — Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795)

Copper decorated with polychrome enamels

  1. 51.5 cm L. 24.3 cm W. 11 cm

A tall, fluted wall fountain with a domed cover and metal tap, fixed to a rectangular panel with a moulded triangular top. It is decorated with polychrome enamels on a white ground, which include yellow, pink, blue, green, iron-red, brown and black. The container is delicately painted with several Chinese ladies in a landscape.

This impressive enamelled copper fountain was probably intended to contain water, and could be used for ablutions or drinking. Up until the 17th century, before forks became a regular addition to the dining table, diners mostly used their hands during meals. As a result, wall fountains were required for diners to wash their hands before or during courses, with porcelain and enamelled copper examples continuing to be produced well into the 18th century. Wall fountains of this type were probably hung on a wall as opposed to being placed on a side table, and may have been accompanied by a matching basin.

There are two enamelled copper wall fountains in the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg.


China of All Colours_rare candelabrum

China — Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795)

Copper decorated with polychrome enamels

  1. 34 cm L. 22 cm Ø 11.5 cm

A candelabrum with a slender double baluster-shaped stem and five branches, each surmounted by a candleholder moulded in the shape of a lotus flower, and decorated with bright polychrome enamels.

The term candelabra derived from the French term candélabres, translated as ‘trees of candles’. From the mid-17th century, candlesticks were produced in pairs or as larger sets, with pairs of candelabra normally placed at either end of the dinner table. The present candelabrum was probably inspired by a European metal or ceramic prototype.

Painted enamel on copper candelabras are rare, and were most likely ordered through private trade. There is an impressive pair of twelve-armed chandeliers, commissioned in Canton by the Danish supercargo Christen Jensen Lintrup (1703-1772) during his fourth mission to China between 1738 and 1739, in Rosenborg Castle, Copenhagen.

shell shaped basin

An attractive, intricately decorated shell-shaped basin

This year´s exhibition will present more than 160 Chinese enamelled copperwares produced during the 18th and 19th centuries, including among others basins and ewers, teapots, snuff boxes and bottles, tea canisters, spittoons, small cups and saucers.

China of All Colours: Painted Enamels on Copper will be on view at the London gallery 6th-14th November to coincide with Asian Art in London.

About Jorge Welsh Oriental Porcelain and Works of Art

 Jorge Welsh gallery was founded in 1986. Jorge Welsh and Luísa Vinhais are experts in Chinese porcelain – with an emphasis on export porcelain – and cross-cultural works of art from Africa, India and Japan ranging from the 15th to the 18th century.

With galleries in London and Lisbon, Jorge Welsh and Luísa Vinhais regularly exhibit at world-renowned art fairs and events including Asian Art in London, TEFAF Maastricht, La Biennale des Antiquaires de Paris and Masterpiece London.

Their works of art are acquired by collectors and museums all over the world, and regularly lent to a variety of temporary exhibitions.

Jorge Welsh Books, the in-house publishing and research division, has published 20 catalogues and books. The most recent catalogue, “China of All Colours: Painted Enamels on Copper” will be released in both English and Chinese alongside the exhibition.

Three further publications are currently in progress and due for release soon. Together with their research team and independent international scholars, the aim of these publications is to contribute to furthering knowledge in their chosen areas of expertise.



2015 exhibition details:


London gallery

6th – 14th November

Monday – Saturday: 9:30 – 5:30pm

Sunday – by appointment

Open Evening – 7th  November: 5:00pm – 9:00pm


116 Kensington Church Street London W8 4BH, UK

T +44 (0)20 7229 21 40


Lisbon gallery

20th November – 12th December

Monday – Saturday: 10:30 – 7:00pm

Opening – 19th November: 6:30pm


Rua da Misericórdia, 43 1200-270 Lisbon, Portugal

‘Economist’ magazine claims ‘China’s once bustling art trade is flagging’

In this week’s issue, the influential British magazine The Economist says that ‘China’s once bustling art trade is flagging’. Down at The Economist, they like their puns: the article is headed up ‘Blue period’.

viewing auction items

Down but not out . . . Chinese auction buyers in Paris

Although worldwide art sales last year reached a record $65 billion (the trackable ones, that is) according to the European Fine Art Foundation. However, while Britain and the USA boom, auction sales in mainland China amounted to $5.5 billion, 40% below their 2011 peak, according to the China Association of Auctioneers and online Artnet. Global sales last year of Chinese art and antiques $7.9 billion, down 31% from three years earlier. Russian and Brazilian art is also well down in sales performance.

However, the Chinese art market has been notoriously unpredictable. In 2005, the China art market accounted for under 5% of global sales. By 2011, its share had rocketed to 30%! Then, in 2012, the market fell back by a staggering 43% – but rebounded in 2013! Now it can be seen to have fallen back again last year. Last year, it is reckoned that more than half of auction lots exposed in Chinese sales were unsold. As a result, many potential vendors are not exposing items at auction so quality is poor at auction and that further depresses demand.

PolyCulture is the largest auctioneer in China and although the Chinese government and military effectively control it, the shares on the market have fallen by around one half since last year’s public offering. Last year, Poly expanded its own stock of art by 82% in a bid to shore up the market. Despite that, revenue slumped by 27% in the first six months of this year.

The most worrying statistic to come out of China is that last year buyers failed to pay for 63% of works ‘sold’ for over $1.5m. Those of us working in the market in the UK are also aware, from a vendor’s point of view, of works languishing in the warehouses of auctioneers, unclaimed, unloved . . . and unpaid. opinion What is going on then? The clampdown by President Xi Jinping on gifts and corruption has indubitably affected the art market in China. As China sinks deeper into a potential economic mire, the brakes are going to have to come off. It won’t be sudden but gradual as it cannot appear to represent a policy U-turn. Growth is also weakened in China but, again, corrective action will be taken by the Chinese leadership. If they lose grip on an economy over which they have pretty much total control there will be a severe danger of unrest within China. The market may be down this year (and last year) but it can equally well rebound next year as new buyers emerge in China’s burgeoning middle class. There is still vast spending power in China.

Asian art auctions crowd the calendar in November

gavel 1 Auction fever in November

For the Asian art buyer next month promises to be a taxing, wallet emptying experience . . . It is the busiest month ever for Asian art auctions. Starting November 3 with London’s Chiswick Auctions, the next 28 days of the month of November will see no fewer  than 20 major auctions of Asian art.

The sales range in size from Sotheby’s November 11 sale of Classical Chinese Furniture from a European Private Collection with just 28 lots of fine-looking huanghuali furniture, to Woolley & Wallis’s usual two day extravaganza on November 17 and 18. They range in location from Bonhams Edinburgh rooms to Dukes in Dorchester and Peter Francis in Carmarthen.

The plethora of sales raises problems of logistics for the avid follower of Chinese auction offerings. Even if you only peruse catalogues on line, you have to set aside at least a couple of days. As for attending all the sales, that is a practical impossibility given the distances involved and the fact that many sales compete with each other on the same day!

Things calm down, thankfully, at the end of the month, although you may care to take in, if you have the energy and the bank balance left, the Lyon & Turnbull auction at Crosshall Manor, St Neots, Cambridgeshire. L&T are again abandoning their elegant Edinburgh saleroom for a small barn in order to be within relatively easy reach of the London market and Heathrow airport.

The auction mania is effectively driven by other surrounding events. The prestigious Olympia Winter Art & Antiques Fair has a strong Chinese and Asian showing this year and starts with its private view on November 2. Asian Art in London starts on November 5 and runs on until the 14th. Both events bring thousands of Asian buyers to London.


      Lyon & Turnbull . . . at Crosshall Manor again     Photo Paul Harris

Listings for all the auctions can be found on our Auctions Nationwide page which is accessible from the slider bar on the Home Page of

Chinese sculptor Chen Dapeng plans major London exhibit at Olympia, book and top secret unveiling


Chen Dapeng at work in his Shanghai studio, June 2015     Photo Paul Harris

The Shanghai-based Chinese sculptor Chen Dapeng is next month to mount a major exhibit at the prestigious Winter Olympic Art & Antiques Fair; launch a coffee table book on his work; and promises the unveiling of a dramatic, top secret bust of ‘a most prominent UK public figure’.

Said Paul Harris of Paul Harris Asia Arts today, ‘We are proud to be organising the first exhibition in the UK for the Shanghai-based Chinese sculptor Chen Dapeng. This follows his successful showings at the Shanghai EXPO (2010) and the Carousel du Louvre (2013), where he was greeted by the French press as ‘the new Rodin’.

‘The 197 sq m Chen Dapeng exhibit (Stand A25) will be the largest at this year’s prestigious Olympia Winter Art & Antiques Fair, which takes place at The National Hall from November 2-8, and represents for us an investment of more than a quarter of a million pounds sterling. There will be a champagne preview on November 2, as well as a press photo-call. ‘

This year the Fair itself celebrates its 25th anniversary as the most important winter art and antiques show in London.

‘At 1830 hours there will be the unveiling of Chen Dapeng’s new bust of a most prominent UK public figure and which he has executed to celebrate the 2015 UK-China Year of Cultural Exchange. More details of this event will be released on Wednesday October 28 and you will be informed accordingly. A new full colour coffee table book on Chen Dapeng containing a catalogue raisonné of his sculptures will also be launched at the Preview.

with Songjian sculptor

Paul Harris with Chen Dapeng in  Shanghai studio, 2003. Photo Paul Harris Asia Arts

On Friday November 6, Paul Harris will be giving the lecture CHINESE SCULPTURE: FROM THE TERRACOTTA ARMY TO CHEN DAPENG at Olympia National Hall.’

This lecture is free to all Olympia ticket holders. Paul Harris is an accredited NADFAS (National Association of Decorative and Fine Art Societies) lecturer in the UK and Australia, as well as the author of half a dozen art books ( His also owns this website, as well as

The Chen Dapeng exhibit is also a participant in Asian Art in London.

Chinese official’s ‘severe’ warning on destruction of cultural heritage

The Reuters News Agency in Beijing reported yesterday that many treasures of China’s thousands of years of culture face being plundered, sometimes violently, or disappearing under bulldozers as the authorities either do not care or do not have the resources to look after them. This is all according to  a top Chinese cultural chief.

In an interview published this week in an official Communist Party newspaper The Study Times, Director of the State Administration of Cultural Heritage Li Xiaojie said the situation he faced in trying to protect the country’s culture was “severe”.

From 2009 to last year, the police uncovered more than 7,000 cases of cultural artefacts being stolen, smuggled out of the country or otherwise plundered, especially tombs, Mr Li told the newspaper, published by the Central Party School, which trains rising officials.

tomb robbed

Holes made by tomb raiders in cornfields, Luonan County, Shaanxi Province, July 2011 Photo China Daily

‘These criminal activities are organised, use high technology and violence, and steal to order,” Mr Li said, adding that efforts to crack down had achieved some results, but he said the road ahead would be hard and difficult.

tomb robber

Henan gang leader Pan Liuso detained at Danfeng Country Detention House accused of tomb raiding China Daily pic

He said that there were also more heritage buildings damaged by fire. There were 74 reported cases since 2010, with more than 30 per cent of the fires caused by electrical faults.

The fires caused terrible damage to the heritage buildings, with some totally destroyed .

Another problem was that some local governments seemed not to care about the treasures in their jurisdiction, or simply lacked the ability to look after them.

“In some culturally protected areas or where there are construction controls, there is illegal construction, damaging the historical features, including the treasures themselves. Some precious ancient sites and buildings have vanished beneath bulldozers,” Mr Li said.

In many cases, the damage was actually caused by local governments and officials, he alleged.

There were 789 such reported cases between 2012 and last year, with 146 of them involving major historical and cultural sites protected at the national level.

He said there were 29 such cases last year, quoting the Bao’en Temple in Sichuan province and Arxan Railway Station in Inner Mongolia as examples where illegal constructions had been carried out.

arxan shan railway station

Arxan Shan Railway Station: classic building destroyed by developers last year

But Mr Li said this was hardly surprising as his administration lacked people and money to protect cultural artefacts. In four provinces, there were fewer than 10 people available for the work.

Chinese Art comments: Really Mr Li Xiaojie is commenting on two unrelated phenomena which should be considered as separate issues: the issue of criminally damaging and stealing from ancient tombs and similar sites and the quite separate issue of the destruction of ancient sites and historic buildings by commercial property developers, often working in league with corrupt local authority officials.

Fortunately, President Xi Jinping is now vigorously ensuring that corrupt public officials are tracked down, tried and punished severely. This is at the centre of official Chinese policy. Developers who work with local officials and/or destroy state-protected assets can fully expect to be in the spotlight. State officials, instructed by the Presidency, will likely soon get around to arresting and punishing them.

The issue of tomb raiding has been around ever since the Chinese art market started to take off in the 1990s and is not new. Several factors are starting to militate against it as a profitable activity. The international Chinese art boom is now over, for the moment. Buyers, collectors and auction houses are now very cautious and are insisting on ‘provenance’ which is something the tomb raiders can never provide. Also, the authorities are poised to clamp down on them and when this occurs it will be ruthless.