Art Europe launches with Chinese items on the menu

 New auction house Art Europe has issued the catalogue for ONE Art Europe’s Preview Sale on December 13. Auction and viewing is in Amsterdam (Loods 6, KNSM-Laan 143) and catalogue online at www.arteurope auctions.com. The first offerings are something of a pot pourri but we have noted some interesting Asian lots. Specifically, a relatively early ancestor portrait of a high official and an unusual and attractive late 20th century oil painting.

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Lot 184 China, Ming dynasty late 16th Century

Ink and colour on silk 159.5 by 90.7 cm.

Provenance Private Collection, United Kingdom.

Depicting an official adorned with a winged black hat and long flowing red robes, decorated with the gold rank badge, and a green inlaid belt, seated on a chair decorated with a geometric pattern, framed.

There is an interesting background text to the catalogue entry, ‘Chinese ancestor portraits came into vogue during the late-Ming (1368-1644) dynasty. In Imperial China, it was a sacred family duty to care for the spirits of deceased ancestors. Food offerings were commonly placed before commemorative portraits commonly referred to as “ancestor paintings.” These were painted specifically for use in ancestor worship and it was believed the power of the living person resided in their portrait after death. Ancestor portraits almost always depicted their subjects in a nearly live-size frontal pose, most often seated in some sort of throne with a lavish carpet at their feet. Typically, they would be wearing semiformal gowns with insignia that proclaimed their rank or status.

‘All ancestors were painted with virtually the same expression- a symbolically somber and detached look- to suggest some sort of objective, otherworldly status. It has been argued that great care needed to be taken when depicting the face since the Chinese believed that capturing the likeness was crucial for the portrait to be able to function as a ritual object. If the portrait did not capture the likeness, it was said that all future prayers would go to someone else’s ancestor, a tragedy at best. Before the fall of the Qing dynasty in 1911, ancestor paintings were rarely available for purchase or exhibited publicly. Today, they are recognized as a significant and unique Chinese art form, appreciated by audiences far greater than any ancestor might ever have imagined.’

Our eye was also caught by Lot 129, an artwork of an artwork, so to speak. It is an interesting oil painting by Liu Zhaowu (born 1973) of a typical piece of Socialist realism derivative of the Soviet influence on sculpture and other art forms which persisted until the Peking Spring of 1989. Statues like this, with rather more finely worked detail, were common during the Maoist era when artists were  shipped off to hone their craft on revolutionary lines in the Soviet Union. This painting entitled From the series Heroes, No. 4, very effectively captures the political and spiritual energy of the time. It is estimated at Euros 5,000-7,000.

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Rosebery’s offer rare Guangxu lime green bowl

London auctioneers Rosebery’s (https://auctions.roseberys.co.uk) are preparing for their December 2 sale which features a number of interesting Chinese lots.

Chinese ceramics from the 12th-20th century populate much of this December’s Asian art sale with particular highlights being a rare porcelain monochrome lime green bowl with Emperor Guangxu’s reign mark to the base, and a superb Yuan Dynasty Junyao ware purple splash censer from the Jun kilns.

lime green bowl roseberys

The lime green bowl is highly unusual and particularly interesting in our view. This rare Chinese porcelain monochrome lime green bowl, with a Guangxu mark and of the period, is of ogee form, glazed to the interior with turquoise, with straight foot rim,  and underglaze blue six character Guangxu mark to base, It is16cm diameter, and 8cm high.

Condition is said to be very good with no chips or cracks. There is a small flaw to the rim, underneath the glaze. On the inside of the bowl there is a patch on the glaze which has ‘bubbled’ slightly. Otherwise, condition is very good.

Rosebery’s say that the demand for Chinese scholar’s objects is ever increasing and on offer in this sale are a great variety of brush pots in ivory, porcelain, bronze and bamboo, jade brushwashers and brush rests, and a number of finely executed Chinese scroll paintings.

 

No sign of market collapse in recent auctions

There has been no sign of market collapse in the many recent auctions and, as ever, quality pieces of Chinese art have not only sustained their values but appear to have climbed considerably. We have recently reported on the success of snuff bottles (Bonhams Edinburgh http://chineseart.co.uk/news/size-doesnt-matter-at-least-at-bonhams-edinburgh/ ) and Chinese lots sold in Wales (Peter Francis Carmarthen http://chineseart.co.uk/news/experts-rejected-record-breaking-chinese-celadon-vase/ ), There was also a most West country successful sale at Dukes in Dorchester where a wide range of lots achieved very substantial prices well in excess of their estimates. Lyrically entitled In Pursuit of the Scholar’s Spirit, the sale, held on November 12, was notable for many five figure prices. The sale started with a Chinese sancai cup (Lot 1), which sold for £15,860 against a modest £2,000 estimate. Dukes bamboo brush pot A small 4.5in. high 18th century bamboo brushpot achieved £58,000 (plus 22% premium) on the back of the high quality of its carving and auspicious nature of the subject matter, depicting the goddess Yaochi Jinmu (Queen Mother of the West) holding court within her palace on the mythological Mount Kunlun. It was accompanied by a 1984 receipt from Spink showing that it had been purchased for £700. It was one of 159 lots which came from a substantial private collection said to have been formed by a member of The Oriental Ceramics Society over a period of almost half a century from the 1950s onwards. Other items included dukes parcel-gilt double phoenix bronze scroll weight £51,240 Chinese parcel-gilt bronze ‘double phoenix’ scroll weight sold for £51,240 (incl.) dukes green jade horse A large green jade recumbent horse sold for £63,440 (incl.) dukes cloisonne miniature vase 46,000 A Chinese cloisonné miniature vase sold for £46,000 hammer

Woolley & Wallis in Salisbury held a 2-day sale and although they failed to sell the much vaunted Imperial clock (http://chineseart.co.uk/auctions/wooley-wallis-offer-exquisite-qianlong-clock/), there were a number of substantial prices. The highest price of the sale was achieved by a deep Chinese 40.6 cm. blue and white basin which got £74,000 hammer against an estimate of £2-3,000. In many respects it was a fairly ordinary piece of porcelain from the first half of the 19th century but the presence of a dragon in the centre of the piece probably served to get buyers excited, despite the absence of a mark.

222 woolley wallis  £74,000 basin washed its face at Woolley & Wallis

The message from recent sales is unequivocal: the best, or the unusual, will always sell if the reserve is not set too high. Vendors need to have the courage to submit their lots and let the market decide. However, the era of silly prices for practically anything are now well and truly over.

Shang libation vessel with Royal provenance shown by Ben Janssens

There have, of course, been many thousands of beautiful things on display during Asian Art in London. Of all the wonderful things we have seen, this is probably the pick of an illustrious collection. On show at Ben Janssens Oriental Art has been this very fine bronze ceremonial libation vessel in the exhibition of Chinese Metalwork. Shang Dynasty, dated to 13th-12th century BC, its classic tripod form lends it an outstanding elegance. The inscription zi mei suggests that it enjoys a royal provenance. To us, it seemed very reasonably priced at £75,000.

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A bronze libation vessel of jue form, the deep U.shaped body supported on three slender, slightly splayed legs that end in sharp points and that have grooves running on either side. The vessel has a long curved spout; opposite it the rim rises into a pointed flange. At the base of the spout are two semi.circular posts, capped by mushroom.shaped finials. A C.shaped handle is attached to one side and is embellished with a finely detailed bovine mask with prominent horns and ears. A single, broad band of intaglio ornament encircles the vessel. It consists of a complex pattern incorporating bold taotie masks with bulging eyes. Three raised vertical flanges interrupt the frieze, dividing it into sections. The ornament extends upwards to a row of triangular forms and also underneath the spout of the vessel. The finials are decorated with swirling ornament. A two.character inscription, zi mei, is cast underneath the handle of the vessel. The vessel is mostly covered in a mellow green patina, leaving some areas uncovered and showing the original colour of the material.

One of the most classical and recognisable shapes in archaic bronzes, the jue tripod libation cup was often paired with the gu beaker. Although it is generally assumed that the jue tripod derives its shape from Neolithic pottery, a theory has also been put forward that its shape was inspired by an ox horn to which two legs had been added to support it.[1] Jue were used in rituals to serve warm wine and other liquids. These rituals were carried out in a prescribed manner, with the number, type and size of the vessels determined by the importance of the participants and the occasion.[2] The present jue is remarkable for its quality of casting and its beautiful patina. The two.character inscription, zi mei, reveals its original owner’s name. Zi Mei was once thought to be the wife of a prince who lived in the mid.Shang dynasty,[3] but she has recently been identified as one of the two daughters of Wu Ding (1250 – 1192 BC), the 23rd king of the Shang dynasty.[4] She might have served in the Shang court as an officer and had her own fief.[5] There are only a few known bronze vessels with the zi mei inscription dated to the late Shang dynasty, and all are believed to have been unearthed from Anyang city, Henan province. This leads us to believe that the current example originates from the same place as well. Among the bronzes with the zi mei inscription, there are only eight libation vessels jue, and seven of them are of very similar style of decoration and pattern.[6] Comparing the ink rubbings of the images and inscriptions of these seven jue, it turns out that a particular piece, recorded as no. 8080, is nearly identical in shape, inscription, and even the pattern of the patina. This leads us to believe that this is the same piece as the present one. Bronze jue no. 8080 (figs. 1 & 2) has a clearly traceable provenance, including its last known owner, Rong Hou (also known as Jung Hou, 1874 .?), a Minister of Finance of the Northeastern provinces during the early period of the Republic of China, and the first president of the Central Bank of the Manchukuo (State of Manchuria, 1932 .1945).[7] Rong Hou was a well-known collector of early Chinese bronzes, and 169 pieces of his bronze collection were researched by the Japanese archaeologist Umehara Sueji (1893 .1983) and published in four volumes of catalogues, known as Guan jia lou ji jin tu (Images of bronzes in Guanjialou) in 1947 – including the no. 8080 bronze jue which is listed as no. 23 in the second volume. Some of the bronzes in the Rong Hou collection are preserved in museums, such as a comparable jue (no. 8079) now in the collection of the Shanghai Museum.[8] However, most of his collection found its way later into the open market, therefore the records in Guan jia lou ji jin tu have become the most reliable references for those bronzes.

PROVENANCE
Private collection, France, acquired in Hong Kong in the 1970’s

  1. Watson, W. Ancient Chinese Bronzes, Faber and Faber, 1962, p. 40
  2. Knight, M. Early Chinese Metalwork in the Collection of the Seattle Art Museum, 1989, p. 2
  3. Wu, Z.F. ed. Jinwen renmming huibian (Names in bronze inscriptions), Zhonghua shuju, Beijing, 2006, p. 34
  4. Liu, Jinrong, ‘Explore Song “Zi name”’ in Journal of Shaoxing University, 2013, vol.33, no.2, p. 90
  5. Liu, Jinrong, op. cit. p. 90
  6. Zhongguo shehui kexueyuan kaogu yanjiusu bian (Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Science ed.), Yin Zhou jin wen ji cheng (Compilation of bronze inscriptions of the Shang and Zhou dynasties), Zhonghu shuju yingyin, Peking, 1984, vol. 13, nos. 8077 – 8083, pp. 223-4
  7. The bronze no. 8080 has also been published in the following catalogues: Luo, Z.Y. ed. San dai ji jin wen cun (Collection of bronze inscriptions of three dynasties), Zhonghua shuju, Beijing, 1937, no.15.29.11; Rong, H. and Umehara, S. Guan jia lou ji jin tu, Kobayshi Cho.bun, Kyo.to, 1947, vol. II, no. 23; Yan, Y.P. Jin wen zong ji (Collection of bronze inscriptions), Yiwen yinshuguan, Taipei, 1983, no. 3551
  8. Zhongguo shehui kexueyuan kaogu yanjiusu bian, op. cit. no. 8079, p. 223
Bronze ceremonial libation vessel

Size doesn’t matter – at least at Bonhams Edinburgh

Bonhams Edinburgh room

Bonhams Edinburgh rooms before the sale

The old adage ‘size doesn’t matter’ was borne out at Bonhams Edinburgh November 18 Asian Art sale. Consistently high prices were achieved in a small section of the sale devoted to cinnabar lacquer snuff bottles. There were 11 lots comprising single bottles and one lot of six extensively repaired bottles.

The six bottles lot made £21,000 on the hammer (against an estimate of just £6-800) and two single bottle lots over £6,000 (estimates £5-600) with several lots of single bottles around £4,000 each. Two similar lots made just £300 each: what might be regarded, perhaps, as the normal sort of price.

So, what was going on, those in the room puzzled? Probably, the auctioneer also, although Ian Glennie perched on the podium appeared unfazed by the dramatic results achieved. All the bottles were interesting in that they were deeply carved, some with continuous wraparound scenes. All bore a satisfactory patina of age suggesting they could be early 19th century, if not older.

Gossip in the trade suggests that the small red bottles were recognised by several London dealers as coming from a little known collection which, in turn, had acquired them several decades ago from a well known collection. Clearly, Bonhams were unaware of this otherwise they might have been exposed for sale in London. As it was, telephone and internet bidding was fast and furious producing a very happy result for auctioneers and vendor.

Yixing teapot

Lot 354  Yixing enamelled teapot £38,000 hammer

The other star in the sale was Lot 354, a large enamelled Yixing teapot and cover circa 1820 and signed by Xiao Yuanhua. There were clearly some hopes for it as it was estimated at £5,000-8,000. In the event, it was knocked down at £38,000, plus 25% buyer’s commission.

 

 

‘Experts’ rejected record-breaking Chinese celadon vase!

There are experts and there are experts . . .  Many of the so-called experts, when it comes to the crunch, have just about the same chance of spotting a winner as the rest of us! This was vividly highlighted ten days ago at a sale at a small provincial saleroom in Wales. A 19cm. celadon vase was entered into the regular fortnightly sale at the rooms of Peter Francis of Carmarthen. It was modestly estimated at £150-250, having been rejected by ‘Chinese experts’ appointed by executors of a London estate. And so, the vase was packed off unceremoniously to the remote Welsh saleroom where it produced a house record of £114,500 hammer (buyer’s premium to be added). When it was exposed for sale there was a protracted 15 minute bidding session between a Chinese dealer in the room and an online bidder in China (PRC mainland). 165,000 vase The vase (pictured above) is, in fact, now reckoned to be an original prized Yongzheng era (1722-35) vase. Said auctioneer Nigel Hodson, “I started the bidding at £500 and the internet just melted. We knew something was happening . . .”. Apparently, the rejected items from London have produced a total of around £500,000 for the Francis rooms, with more to come tomorrow, November 18th. Maybe worth a look . . . .

Of a Chinese sculptor, a slow press day and a sudden media penchant for art . . .

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opinion hl

The more perceptive of you, faithful readers of our blog on chineseart.co.uk, will have noted a certain connection between this blog and the Chinese sculptor Chen Dapeng, who last week exhibited more than 40 examples of his work at the Olympia Winter Art & Antiques Fair on his 200 sq m stand, the largest stand at the Fair.

We have, in fact, known Chen Dapeng for some 14 years and have long been admirers of his work which distils traditional elements of Chinese art with a modern twist. Essentially realist in approach, his work reflects a well practised craftsmanship and fascinated visitors to the Fair with its exploration of the Eastern mysteries of Kung-fu and the spirit of China.

Little is known about Chinese sculpture in the West. It is not exactly a sexy subject and spreading the news of Chen Dapeng to the British public presented enormous challenges. Having decided to mount his first exhibition in the UK, the problem was very much how to bring him to the attention of the British public. Generally speaking, the UK media is uninterested in the specifics of art although it will carry news and features based around figures renowned for their activities outside the art arena: a case in point being dissident protester Ai Weiwei, who took on the government of China using his art as a blunt instrument.

Pursuing this train of thought, we suggested to Chen Dapeng that he might think about executing a very British piece of sculpture. And what could be more British than the rightly revered figure of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II? The Chinese sculptor enthusiastically took up the challenge, spending almost five months moulding Her Majesty in clay and then firing her in white porcelain, an enormously difficult medium to fire successfully. On the 13th attempt at firing, a successful version was achieved. We were all hopeful that this might be cause for some useful publicity in the UK . . .

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The unveiling by Chen Dapeng at Olympia on November 2     Photo by Paul Harris

On November 2, when the Olympia Fair opened, Chen Dapeng was totally unknown to the British public. He had half a dozen entries if you had looked him up on Google. Not a single newspaper or magazine in the UK had featured him after sending out hundreds of press releases in advance of his arrival at Heathrow . . . dragging a red draped trolley with what was to become, for the week ahead, the most famous sculpture in the world.

At 10am on Monday November 2, the sculpture was unveiled at an Olympia photocall and press releases were distributed to photographers and journalists. There wasn’t much news around that morning . . . It was what is known in the business as ‘a slow news day’.

By midday, The Daily Telegraph Online had posted a story in which their art critic Mark Hudson likened the appearance of the bust to Tom Hanks. This was the catch line that would propel the story all around the world. Within minutes, the telephone ran red hot: What was our reaction to Mark Hudson’s judgement  – on a sculpture he had never seen ? First on the line was The Daily Mail Online, followed by The Independent. By lunchtime, the story hit New York, as the city woke up, and Vanity Fair and The New York Times came on the line.

Whether or not you agreed with Hudson, this became the hottest story online and in the media worldwide: a quarter of a million Tweets, more than 200 articles and features online (that we have tracked) in more than 25 countries from Greece, Poland, Sweden and Spain to The Philippines, Indonesia and, of course, Dapeng’s native China.

On Tuesday morning, the bust was ceremoniously ferried to ITV’s This Morning for Philip and Holly to open the programme seated beside it. Philip adjudged it ‘impressive’. He was, of course, unlike Mr Hudson, seated right beside it. This Morning would be followed with interviews on Radio 4 and the BBC World Service, pieces on NBC and Fox News,  and, last Friday, with a segment on Have I Got News for You?

People flocked to our stand at Olympia to see the bust. Twelve pages of our Visitors’ Book were filled with comments: 80% positive from those who had actually seen it. Meantime, on social media and on showbiz sites in the US people were posting from offices, attics and basements their own particular view of who it looked like to them: Mrs Doubtfire, Liberace, Martin Sheen, David Walliams and, even, The Duke of Edinburgh, Her Majesty’s husband. Despite all these suggestions, the Tom Hanks label stuck.

Also, many patently untrue suggestions made it once into online print and were relentlessly repeated worldwide without any further research: a particularly unappealing facet of the online world. The Daily Express (to quote the aforementioned Duke of Edinburgh speaking many years ago, ‘A bloody awful newspaper’) told its readers (both of them) that Buckingham Palace had declared it had no knowledge of the sculpture being offered to HM. Well, chaps, I could offer to share with you my five months of correspondence with The Keeper of The Royal Collection. On second thoughts, I won’t!

By the end of the week, Chen Dapeng was the most famous sculptor in the world. More famous, even, than Ai Weiwei. But he was getting a bit doubtful about all the publicity. ‘What about my other sculptures?’ he asked. Of course, the bust of HM was the least important on the stand in strictly artistic terms. His vastly impressive and challenging other works had merited scarcely a mention. But he had become famous worldwide.

It is probably a parable of our times: of a world dominated by the power of an all pervasive digital media. Of a world where real appreciation of anything other than the immediate, the sensational and the easily digested must be regarded as a prized rarity. However, it could be said Chen Dapeng is now a name to be reckoned with. After all, he now dominates almost twenty pages of entries on Google. Is that success, or is it not?

Paul Harris

 

Rare Tingqua export painting coming up at Bonhams

248, Tea preparation  Tingqua (1809-1870)

The Tingqua  tea trade export painting which comes up at Bonhams this week

This week in London is, of course, a bumper week for Asian art sales, set in the context of Asian Art in London. There is a plethora of goodies but this picture which comes up in the Bonhams sale on Tuesday has caught our eye.

It is a rare export painting by Tingqua (1809-1870), estimated at £20,000 – 30,000 (Lot 248), depicting various stages involved in the production and preparation of tea. Reckoned to be the most famous and prolific of all Chinese watercolour and gouache painters, he was known to foreigners as Tingqua, though his true name was Kwan Luen Chin. Tingqua was the brother of Lamqua, an accomplished Chinese painter in the Western style who had been the protégé of the English painter George Chinnery.

Tingqua chose gouache and watercolours as his medium in part out of familial deference to his older brother, who worked primarily in oils. Tingqua’s studio at 16 China Street, Canton, specialised in gouache and watercolour paintings influenced by Western artistic traditions. These works became known in America primarily through the American China trader Augustine Heard, who brought a substantial collection of Tingqua paintings back to the United States circa 1855. These are now located at the renowned collection in The Peabody Museum in Salem, Massachusetts.

Glitzy launch for Asian Art in London

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Asian Art in London launch last night      Photo Paul Harris

There was a glitzy launch last night for Asian Art in London. Hundreds of art loving partygoers swilled champagne from 7 – 10pm inside London’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Knightsbridge.

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Chinese entertainment at Asian Art in London launch   Photo Paul Harris

The party not only celebrated the start of Asian Art in London’s ten day programme of exhibitions, auctions and social events, but also 2015 UK-China Cultural Exchange Year. Representatives of the Chinese government were present but only one artist was in evidence: Mr Chen Dapeng, the Shanghai sculptor, who was recognised in The Great Hall of the People in Beijing as representative sculptor.

Since that occasion, he has been in London exhibiting at Winter Olympia Art & Antiques Fair with a large 197 sq m stand. His bust of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II generated massive publicity worldwide earlier this week. Some journalists, none of whom had actually seen the bust, criticised his depiction of the Queen. However, the many pages of entries in the Visitors’ Book on the stand tell a rather different story. Overwhelmingly, positive, they praise the sculptor for capturing a fine likeness of the monarch.

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Chen Dapeng on his crowded stand at Olympia yesterday  Photo Khalid B

Wooley & Wallis offer exquisite Qianlong clock

lot 62 woolley wallis clock

Salisbury auctioneers Woolley & Wallis are renowned for their bi-annual two day Asian art sales which take place in May and November. Although there are uncertainties surrounding the market for Asian and, specifically, Chinese art, the auction house is excited about one particular lot that comes up on November 17.

Lot 61 is described as ‘a fine and rare Chinese Imperial ormolu mounted striking gourd-shaped clock with swinging movement’. It is confidently reckoned to be Qianlong (1736-95) and is estimated at £200,000 – 300,000.

The provenance is the usual ‘property of a Gentleman’ and it is said to have formerly been in the possession of the Greek collector Dimitri Mavromattis. There are said to be only three examples of this type of Chinese clock in existence. The same clock, or another of the examples, have recently appeared at auction (Christie’s The Exceptional Sale July 5 2012, Lot 15, unsold, and Christie’s Hong Kong Magnificent Clocks for the Chinese Imperial Court from the Nezu Museum, May 27 2008, Lot 1501. It is an impressive 61cm in height.

lot 62 woolley wallis clock2

‘Most exciting day of my life’ says sculptor Chen Dapeng

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Chen Dapeng unveils his bust of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on Monday

For Shanghai-based sculptor Chen Dapeng, who is exhibiting his work at the London Olympia Winter Art & Antiques Fair, today has been ‘the most exciting day of my life.’

On Monday night he hosted a champagne reception on his enormous 200 sq m stand at London’s top exhibition venue. It was attended by some 200 people:art critics, buyers, journalists and photographers and, even, some relatives of the British Queen. The focus was very much on his controversial bust of the British monarch which has been offered to the British Queen as a gift but which has got caught up in a diplomatic quagmire.

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The controversial bust. Does it really look like Tom Hanks, Liberace, Prince Phillip or Robin Williams? Some Twitterers said it portrayed her ‘wonderfully’

Today the British press was full of articles about his work. There were features in the prestigious newspaper The Times, the influential broadsheeet The Daily Telegraph and the mass market tabloid Metro. This followed extensive worldwide web coverage on newspaper sites.

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Chen Dapeng with the bust at the This Morning, London, studio today

By 9.30 am today, Chen Dapeng was on the way to the ITV studios with his controversial bust of HM Queen Elizabeth II. At 1030 it was featured throughout Britain with a four minute live slot on This Morning hosted by revered national celebs Philip and Holly.

The reaction to the bust was instant. Thousands of people took to Twitter, some applauding it, others likening it to Tom Hanks, Liberace (who he? Answer, long deceased piano pounder), Prince Phillip (husband of the Queen) and, even, the late Robin Williams.

However, it was at lunchtime that the offers to buy the bust started to pour in. They came from New York (where Vanity Fair had publicised it), from Hong Kong, and from China itself.

However, the European agents for Chen Dapeng, Paul Harris Asia Arts, had already received two tentative offers to buy the bust at their champagne party on Monday night. Said Paul Harris today, “We were approached by two separate very serious people who said that if it was not going to Buckingham Palace they would like it. Then we received by email and telephone further offers from much further afield. This thing has gone viral. We are now fighting off enquiries.”

But what about the offer to give it to the Queen? Said Harris,”It needs the Chinese government to officially ask Her Majesty if she would like it and the bureaucratic channels are clogged up.”

Said Chen Dapeng, “The Chinese Embassy in London is useless. Despite the fact I have been appointed by Beijing as sculptor for UK-China Cultural Exchange Year (2015), they refuse to recognise me or to act until they get direct orders from Beijing. They are incompetent.”

Nobody from the Chinese Embassy attended Chen Dapeng’s champagne party although even the Argentinian Ambassador was there! Nobody at the Chinese Embassy would comment.

And the offers? The bust has been optioned to a British buyer at ‘around’ half a million pounds. However, the latest offers are well into the millions . . . Looks like Chen Dapeng is set for a great future far from his native China.