The saddest sale of the year? Mallett takes stock

lot 35 mallett sale

It must be the saddest sale of the year. Simply titled Mallett:Taking Stock the once great retail emporium, located on London’s elite New Bond Street and New York’s plush Madison Avenue, is disposing of the rest of its retail stock at Dreweatt’s Donnington Priory saleroom on November 8.

Unsurprisingly, there are many extraordinary and quite beautiful Asian pieces in the sale. What is surprising, however, are the staggeringly low estimates. Our eye has particularly been taken by Lot 35, a Chinese export carved bone model of a pagoda (illustrated above) which is well catalogued – and estimated at just a ludicrous £100-200! It is difficult to see the logic in this. It would seem to us to be worth a very substantial four figure sum, if not more, or are we missing something? Look at the catalogue description:

Ω A rare Chinese export carved bone model of a pagoda, 19th century, with seven storeys , each level intricately carved with pierced walls and gallery with a fluted roof hung with gilt pendant bells, of each room centred by a small figure, the base within a fenced stylised polychrome garden with an elaborately carved and decorated gateway, with a group of painted figures carrying ceremonial batons, retaining the original pine stand, 61cm high 26cm wide, 20cm deep, with losses and damage
During the 19th century, the principal centre in China for the manufacture of export wares such as the present lot was the city of Guangzou (or Canton as it would be known in the West after the 1839-1842 Opium War). Situated on the Pearl River delta near the South China Sea. Canton was culturally and economically the most important city in south China, and a hub of trade in all manner of artefacts, including ivory.
By the middle of the eighteenth century, it had become fashionable for English landed gentry to create decorative buildings and follies in their gardens and estates, particularly of eastern design. Perhaps the most notable English example is the pagoda at Kew Gardens of 1761-2, built as a surprise for Princess Augusta, the Dowager Princess of Wales and mother of George III. The designer, Sir William Chambers, had worked previously as an employee of the Swedish East India Company, during which time he spent several months in Canton. Whilst there he made architectural drawings of typical buildings which he later published as a book of Designs of Chinese Buildings (1757). His pagoda at Kew was very well received, and went on to inspire further examples, such as the three-storey version built at Alton Towers in the 1820s.
Please note, this lot may be subject to CITES regulations if exported from the EU.

Associated with the sale is a private treaty opportunity to acquire a famous Qing dynasty ivory and lacquer six-fold screen owned by Mallett and loaned to the V&A from 1965-81. This important property deicts episodes from the classic work Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Presently the Mallett business remains part of the troubled Stanley Gibbons group. Untril very recently, Dreweatts were also part of the group but have just been bought out by investment business Gurr Johns. Mallett was acquired in 2014 by the Stanley Gibbons Group for around £9m. but has, arguably, failed to adapt successfully to new trends in purchasing which have swung sharply away from the retail environment.

 

Chiswick eagerly anticipate Huang Binhong sale

Paintings by the Chinese Modernist master Huang Binhong are rarely offered at auction in London and fierce bidding is expected for a work to be offered at Chiswick Auctions on November 13 during Asian Art in London..

Included in the top 10 ranking artists sold at auction internationally, alongside Picasso, Warhol and Monet, for the first half of 2017; his painting Yellow Mountain sold for a record 345 million yuan (US$50.5 million) at China Guardian Auctions’ sale in Beijing (Artprice.com, Aug 2017).

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Ink and wash painting by Huang Binhong to be offered at Chiswick Auctions

Of course, if Chiswick were to knock down their offering, entitled simply Landscape, for a price in ths range then the sale would fit very nicely into their current expansion programme, which includes the estabishment of a central London showroom in the wake of the sudden closure of Chrsties South Kensington.

An internationally recognised master of 20th Century Chinese ink painting, prices for works by Huang Binhong have sky-rocketed in recent years and his reputation as a world-class modernist artist has been truly cemented.

His work innovatively combines Eastern traditions with influences from Impressionist and Modernist art, visible in his use of light and free brushwork.

The painting offered at Chiswick Auctions depicts the landscape of Xuancheng (宣城), a city in North East Anhui Province in China. The work was acquired by the present owner from the successful Chinese businessman Mr. David Lau (Lau Chi Man).

Chiswick Auctions is the only London saleroom to offer dedicated sales of Chinese Paintings.

Head of Asian Art, Lazarus Halstead, commented: “Since opening our Fine Chinese Paintings department there has been an overwhelming response from collectors wishing to consign and buy fine and rare works by Chinese artists.”

The November sale also includes works by 20th Century masters Qi Baishi, Pu Ru and the female artist Fang Zhaoling, as well as classical works attributed to Wang Jian and Ba Da Shan Ren.

Hide away your ivory! Beleagurerd British government announces U-turn ban on historic ivory

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The beleagured British government in the person of Environment Secretary Michael Gove, hardly the sharpest knife in the drawer of a decidedly dim and declining political regime, has today announced it will imminently ban all trading in virtually all antique ivory.

This incredible U-turn in policy has been made by a government quite possibly on its last legs before it is forced to face the electorate. Apparently, government advisers have told it that if it wishes to pander to the younger members of the electrorate it must proceed with a number of palliative meeasures, including a vifrtually total ban on the sale of historic worked ivory previously regarded as part of the national heiitage of Britain.

Worse still, it is tonight rumoured that private collections of beautiful historic ivory pieces may be seized for salutary public destruction. Tbis appalling prospect means that private owners may be best advised to hide away some of their most treasured possessions before the political police arrive at their door at the dead of night.

Apparently Gove himself possesses a piano with ivory keys and the Minister may have to allow in the piano smashers! Shame on the UK government!

Bonhams appoints Jessica Zhang as China representative

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Jessica Zhang, just appointed Bonhams China representative.                                 Photo courtesy Bonhams

Bonhams, the international auction house, has announced the appointment of Jessica Zhang as its representative in mainland China, with immediate effect. She will be based in Beijing with a brief to build the Bonhams brand throughout the country.

Bonhams is, of course, on of the ‘Big Three’ auction houses in the UK and, alongside rivals Sotheby’s and Christie’s, is seeking to make inroads into the China market which enjoys tremendous untapped potential. All the auction houses are adopting different strategies and Bonhams has clearly decided to identify itself as using Chinese talent as opposed to entering into occasional sales and ‘tax free’ deals.

Bonhams Executive Director in Asia, Edward Wilkinson, said, “I am delighted to welcome Jessica to the Bonhams team. Her impressive experience in luxury brand building signals our commitment to expand the Bonhams brand throughout China. This important role requires a mould-breaker and I believe we have found that in Jessica.”

Jessica Zhang commented, “I am very excited by this new challenge. The Bonhams name is respected throughout the world and I am looking forward to using my knowledge and experience to build its profile in China and enable new and existing Chinese collectors to become better acquainted with the wide range of services offered by Bonhams around the world.”

Jessica has a strong background in brand management and the marketing of luxury lifestyle. As managing director of Quintessentially China – a provider of tailored luxury services for high net-worth individuals – she established the business in China and was responsible for its branding, marketing and strategic planning. Jessica graduated in International Trade, is a native Mandarin speaker and fluent in English.