Christies sale features nine decades of dealing in Chinese art across four generations

The Marchant dynasty: Four generations in Chinese art

Richard Marchant reflects on his family’s extraordinary 92-year connection with porcelain and jade ahead of Christie’s important New York Sale Marchant: Nine Decades in Chinese Art on 14 September.

‘It’s quite remarkable that we’ve been going for four generations,’ observes Richard Marchant, sitting in the office of the gallery opened by his father in the early 1950s. Samuel Sydney Marchant opened his first antiques shop on Cursitor Street, near Chancery Lane in London, in 1925, with a mission to trade in only the finest and rarest objects with impeccable provenance. In 1952 the shop moved to new premises on Kensington Church Street and, with Richard joining the business a year later, the firm began to specialise in Ming and Qing dynasty works of art, particularly porcelain and jade.

‘I was 17,’ Richard Marchant recalls. ‘My father took me into the business with him, and after one year he said, “You can go out buying”. You have to remember that at that time, antiques were everywhere. My father would send me to auctions at Christie’s, and it meant that I had to touch, and feel, every lot in the sale. It was a fantastic time to learn.’

A superb large Longquan celadon bracket-lobed dish, early Ming dynasty, late 14th-early 15th century. 19 in (48.2 cm) high. Estimate $300,000-400,000. This lot is offered in Marchant Nine Decades in Chinese Art on 14 September 2017 at Christie’s in New York

A superb large Longquan celadon bracket-lobed dish, early Ming dynasty, late 14th-early 15th century. 19 in (48.2 cm) high. Estimate: $300,000-400,000. This lot is offered in Marchant: Nine Decades in Chinese Art on 14 September 2017 at Christie’s in New York

In 1985 Richard’s own son, Stuart, joined the family business, and in 2011 and 2015 Stuart’s two children, Natalie and Samuel, also came on board, establishing an art-dealing dynasty that spans almost a century. On 14 September in New York, collectors will have the opportunity to be a part of the remarkable Marchant family story with the sale of just over 50 bronzes, jades and ceramics in the sale Marchant: Nine Decades in Chinese Art.

An exceptional large parcel-gilt-bronze tripod censer, Xuande Yuannian mark corresponding to 1426, Ming Dynasty, 15th-17th century. 12 in. (30.5 cm.) diam. Estimate $70,000-90,000. This lot is offered in Marchant Nine Decades in Chinese Art on 14 September 2017 at Christie’s in New York
An exceptional large parcel-gilt-bronze tripod censer, Xuande Yuannian mark corresponding to 1426, Ming Dynasty, 15th-17th century. 12 in. (30.5 cm.) diam. Estimate: $70,000-90,000. This lot is offered in Marchant: Nine Decades in Chinese Art on 14 September 2017 at Christie’s in New York

 

Across the decades, Marchant has observed radical changes in the nature of collecting Asian works. Where once clients were mostly European and American private collectors, today a large proportion of the business comes from the Far East, with clients keen to acquire works of art from their own heritage.

‘At the moment the main collectors, there’s no question, are from China,’ the dealer says, before offering advice to those setting out on their collecting journey. ‘Young collectors have to concentrate in a specific area. And there are areas that can be neglected by the market. We’ve seen this over the years — pieces that weren’t very popular, all of a sudden, become  popular.’

A Dehua figure of Guanyin with a scroll, Ming dynasty, early 17th century, impressed He Chaozong mark within a double gourd. 7¼ in (18.4 cm) high. Estimate $50,000-70,000. This lot is offered in Marchant Nine Decades in Chinese Art on 14 September 2017 at Christie’s in New York
A Dehua figure of Guanyin with a scroll, Ming dynasty, early 17th century, impressed He Chaozong mark within a double gourd. 7¼ in (18.4 cm) high. Estimate: $50,000-70,000. This lot is offered in Marchant: Nine Decades in Chinese Art on 14 September 2017 at Christie’s in New York
A massive and superbly-decorated famille rose baluster jar and cover, Yongzheng period (1723-35). 31⅞ in (81 cm) high. Estimate $80,000-120,000. This lot is offered in Marchant Nine Decades in Chinese Art, 14 September 2017 at Christies New York
A massive and superbly-decorated famille rose baluster jar and cover, Yongzheng period (1723-35). 31⅞ in (81 cm) high. Estimate: $80,000-120,000. This lot is offered in Marchant: Nine Decades in Chinese Art, 14 September 2017 at Christie’s New York

 

‘I feel very privileged to be able to handle pieces that have survived through hundreds of years, knowing that so many previous collectors have loved them,’ he reflects, while examining ‘a very special piece’, an an early Ming, Yongle period (1403-1425) dish. ‘It’s contagious, the love of these objects.’

Reproduced courtesy of Christies.com The sale takes place in New York on Thursday September 14

Edinburgh Chinese Festival puts on glittering show

Chinese Arts & Culture Fest 17 best (1)

The Chinese Arts and Culture Festival, which now forms part of The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, was held over two days earlier this week. The Festival, which was launched last year, provided the opportunity to see a series of top quality Chinese displays of dramatic art.:a unique opportunity for visitors to and residents of Scotland. Plans are already in hand to mount the event again next year.

Below we feature photographs of some of the performances.

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Apologue 2047 was in the nature of a more experimental work of performance art. Here traditional musicians from Fujian province accompany dancers sealed in a transparent oblong box over which blue paint was sprayed. Photo Paul Harris

Chinese Arts & Culture Fest 17 best (5)

A scene from the opera The Drunken Concubine presented by Wuhan Peking Opera Group and which was marked by by stunning, colourful costumes. Below Makeup and costume constituted a faultless contribution to the opera. Photo Paul Harris

Chinese Arts & Culture Fest 17 best (4)

Chinese Arts & Culture Fest 17 best (3)

A scene from another less than conventional presentation by Zhaoliang ART entitled The Tea Spell. It started with a woman, made up to simulate nudity clambering through the audience in acrobatic style ! Photo Paul Harris

Chinese Arts & Culture Fest 17 best (6)

Singing of China in Edinburgh was a charming presentation by children from the Beijing Shanghai Experimental School. They sang a variety of Chinese classical songs, finishing off, appropriately, with the famous Scottish valedictory Auld Lang Syne. Photo Paul Harris

Unusual Chinese art image no. 90 The wrist rest

Mao wrist rest2 lr The wrist rest, historically, was a valued accoutrement on the scholar’s desk. It came in many forms: wood, ivory and, even, jade and served the purpose suggested by its name as the scholar inscribed, wrote and painted. This is a rather more modern version. It dates from 1967 or 1968 and celebrates the great leader (as he was seen at that time) Mao Tse Tung at the height of his charismatic power in the days of The Cultural Revolution. This one is a rather up market souvenir made for local consumption within China.

Picture courtesy www.chineseartinscotland.co.uk