A Merry Christmas to all our readers!

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Here is a very cheerful fun picture (courtesy www.dfic.cn) to enliven your Christmas morning! Santa’s elves do look a mite chilly but they paint a delightful picture. The photograph was spotted in an article in the magazine of Chinese Branding. The article concluded that ‘sex sells’! We could have told them that for nothing . . .  Enjoy your Christmas!

Paris shines in December Chinese art sales

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The Qianlong Imperial seal which was sold this month in Paris for euro 17.5m. (pounds sterling £14.58 equivalent). Picture courtesy Pierre Berge & Associes.

There were two exceptionally high prices achieved in this month’s Paris Asian Sales, which traditionally follow the London Asian beanfeast during November. Highest prices was achieved by a Qianlong seal, formerly the personal property of the Emperor. The sale, to an unnamed Chinese collector, took place in Paris on December 14 after a heated bidding war, the Drouot auction house said.

The palm-sized seal (actually 4in. square) is made of red and white steatite, a type of mineral rock from Fujian province. It was one of hundreds owned by Emperor Qianlong, The previous world record set for an auctioned seal was €14m in 2011 and the latest seal sold was originally acquired by a young French naval doctor who visited China in the late 19th Century, and had remained in his family ever since.

Local Asian art expert Alice Jossaume told AFP news agency it had been expected to sell for between €800,000 and €1m. Emperor Qianlong, an avid art collector who ruled China for much of the 18th Century, was an artist himself who would use seals to sign his works, and commissioned some for their intricate craftsmanship.

The seal  in question features nine dragons which signify masculinity and the imperial authority. Drouot said more than 1,800 Qianlong seals were made, out of which 700 disappeared. Another 1,000 are kept by China’s Palace Museum in Beijing’s Forbidden City.

Christies held a euro 22.5 million Asian sale shortly afterwards. Of this total twelve million euros (pounds sterling ten million) was attributable to an 11th century gilt bronze figure of the Buddha Vairocana (see picture below).

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‘Unique’ white porcelain statue of Mao Tse Tung to be offered for £500,000 at AFE

An almost life-size white porcelain statue of legendary Chinese leader Mao Tse Tung is to be offered for sale at half a million pounds (sterling) at next month’s Antiques for Everyone Fair: Art, Antiques, Interiors Fair at London’s Excel Exhibition Centre. It is said to be quite possibly ‘unique’ and the only survivor of an edition of just two made in 1967.

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The statue was produced in October 1967 to the order of the Chinese government. It is now owned by Scottish investment company Coldingham Investments Ltd, which has extensive interests in the Chinese art market. Explains managing director Paul Harris, ‘We know that two of these statues were made but there is no trace now of the other one which went to Chinese government offices after completion. This statue of China’s controversial leader may well be unique.

‘It is dated October 1967 which was a landmark time for China as the Cultural Revolution was launched. It is a ‘heroic’ interpretation of Mao at the height of his adulation. As such, it is a vitally important historical relic.’

The 1.42m-tall white-glazed statue is accurate down to every last detail, including the birthmark on Mao’s face. The subject wears the legendary ‘Mao jacket’ with every button faithfully replicated. For many years this statue graced the halls of the Chinese Embassy in Rome but was removed from show when the great leader fell from favour. It is in perfect condition.

According to researches carried out by the vendors, it was made in 1967 in China’s porcelain capital, Jingdezhen. Says Paul Harris, ‘It is notoriously difficult to make a white porcelain statue of this very large size. Accordingly, large numbers could not be manufactured. This perfect example would probably have been preceded by dozens of failures during the firing process. We know of no other surviving examples.’

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The 50 year-old statue is inscribed with the brave legend ‘May Mao Tse Tung live for 10,000 years’. It bears the number ‘2’ and and also bears the date October 1967.

It will be on show at AFE, the first London edition of AFE which has enjoyed a successful run in Birmingham for many years, with an unveiling on Stand E5 (Paul Harris Asia Arts) on the morning of January 13. AFE takes place at the Excel Exhibition Centre in the east of London January 13-15.

Further details may be had by emailing paul@chineseart.co.uk.

20-mao