The Qianlong mixed media diorama whch scored at Woolley & Wallis this week
Items from the Qianlong period continue to lead at the salerooms symbolising the apogee of taste. Two Qianlong lots were amongst the highest achievers this week at Salisbury auctioneers Woolley & Wallis. We particularly liked the Imperial diorama, Lot 17, which was a mixed media lot incorporating paper, glass and stained ivory (no demonstrators outside the saleroom this time!). It beautifully depicted figures in a river landscape with two ladies peeping through the door of a pavilion. The foreground with a small group of figures on two sampans and a trio of musicians by a pavilion under the shade of weeping willows serenading two scholars beside a tall rock. The frame was glazed with a sheet of glass painted on the inside with clouds and a skein of geese, 58cm x 45.8cm. From an English private collection in Surrey, it got £36,000 on the hammer.
The highest scoring lot in the sale was a Chinese pale celadon jade rectangular-section vase standing 15cm. high. Also Qianlong, it was carved in relief with a band of studs bordered by key fret, with a ferocious scaly five-clawed dragon climbing to one side, its sinuous tail extending around the vase, raised on a reticulated scrolling hardwood stand, It was in many ways similar to one illustrated in Compendium of Collections in the Palace Museum, Jade 10, Qing Dynasty, p.76, no.47.
Sold for £58,000, it was purchased by a Hong Kong Collector.
Edinburgh auctionneers Lyon & Turnbull held one of their periodic Asian sales in London this week on May 9. An impressive range of objects from the scholar’s desk featured in this particular sale which kicked off with a private collection of no less than 58 scholar’s rocks fashioned from a wide variety of materials. Nearly all of them achieved respectable figures around their estimates in the low thousands.
A box of Imperial inkstickes sold by Lyon & Turnbull £191,000
However, the surprise of the day went to a rare set of 48 Imperial inksticks estimated modestly at £2,000-3,000 which were eventually knocked down at £191,000, inclusive of premium and costs.
They were by Wang Weigao, and were described as ‘Qianlong mark and of the period’.
These finely crafted pieces,comprising forty-eight inksticks contained in two fine gilt-lacquered ‘dragon’ boxes, illustrate the process of cotton cultivation and manufacturing in imperial China, each inkstick delicately carved on the one side with a particular stage of the process, accompanied by a gilt caption, and inscribed and gilt with a poem by Emperor Qianlong on the reverse, one of the inksticks inscribed with a ‘table of contents’, another inscribed with an introductory essay and signed ‘carved by Wang Weigao, supervisor of ink-making in the Imperial Library’ (Yu shu chu jiao xi zao mo jian sheng, chen Wang Weigao juan) . Each inkstick was just 6.9×2.5cm.
The Paul Harris Asia Arts group has just launched a new auction house in the Scottish Borders near to Berwick upon Tweed. The new business is called Coldingham Borders Auctions (CBA) and is added to a portfolio of interests which includes the online retail businesses chineseartinscotland.co.uk and vietnamart.co.uk; the consultancy business Coldingham Investments Ltd; this website chineseart.co.uk; and the gallery and warehouse complex The Coldingham Gallery.
Paul & Sulee Harris with some of the items from their upcoming auction on May 13
Coldingham Borders Auctions will host its first auction on Saturday May 13 at 11am in Coldingham Hall, a public venue just 50 yards from the auction house 300 sq m store and offices. It is a venue which was outfitted seven years ago at a cost of a quarter of a million pounds and contains state of the art facilities including electrically operated seating. CBA events will be live on the internet courtesy of EasyLiveauction.com and the catalogue for the first sale of 230 lots is already live on the EasyLive platform at https://www.easyliveauction.com/catalogue/142754615ff77000b97cc951635a5761/0af8d24542e81eb9357e7ef448a6646f/sale-of-art-antiques-collectables-including-asian/
Although there are around 50 Chinese and Asian lots in the sale, there is also an intriguing array of collectables: a first UK edition of Vladimir Nabakov’s novel Lolita (1959); the brass shell casing from a German battleship dated 1917 and converted into an ice bucket; an 1840s French ‘Gavre & Champet’ iron cannon; a bronze of two female lovers signed J M Lambeaux; and a selection of 19th century artists’ easels.
The front runner in the Chinese art category has to be an 18th century horseshoe backed huanghuali folding chair estimated at £2,500-5,000. The auctioneers think it will get rather more. . .
Huanghuali horseshoe backed folding chair
Auctions will be held every three months and the next is scheduled for September 30. The auctioneer will be Paul Harris assisted by his Chinese born wife, Sulee. The appearance of Coldingham Borders Auctions follows upon the closure of other auction houses in the Scottish and English Borders regions: The Berwick Auction House has been trned into a night club and long-established Jedburgh auctioneers Swan Turner has closed with the reitrement of Mr Turner after more than thirty years in the business.
A couple of other Chinese items in the sale: a bronze Buddha 18th century; and a very large scroll