Christies New York feature Zheng Xie and the art of Chinese calligraphy

This article was originally published by Christie’s New York as a taster for their sale on March 16 2016 in New York. The scroll illustrated below will be offered for sale. This analysis by Elizabeth Hammer helps us in the appreciation of Chinese calligraphy in general.

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Zheng Xie (1693-1765) Calligraphy. Hanging scroll on paper. Estimate $60,000-80,000

Zheng Xie — The outsider who refused to compromise

Specialist Elizabeth Hammer offers an expert reading of the brush strokes in Calligraphy by Zheng Xie, an 18th century artist whose unorthodox and distinctive approach led to him being called one of the ‘Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou’

In China, calligraphy is traditionally considered the finest art form, as the artist’s goal is to express his skill, knowledge, personality and character all by using only line, ink tone and movement. Through this multi-faceted process, the calligrapher communicated with his viewer — with a message that continues to resonate today.

This powerful example of calligraphy by the erudite scholar-official Zheng Xie can, as we shall discover, be appreciated from a number of different vantage points.

Zheng Xie (1693–1765), Calligraphy. Hanging scroll, ink on paper. Estimate: $60,000–80,000. This work is offered in the Fine Chinese Paintings auction on March 16 at Christie’s New York

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These charater demonstrate the varying thickness of strokes employed by Zheng Xie. 1 Short and stubby  2 Borad and thick  3 Open and expansive  4 Cramped and crowded 5 Some characters, like this one, are print-like  6Other strokes become abbreviated and cursive

  1. Visual impact

This hanging scroll is large, as are the characters written on it. The ink tone is uniformly dark and rich and the brush strokes are angular and geometric rather than graceful and elegant.

Chinese is traditionally read vertically from top to bottom, right to left; here, the characters are written in a set order of strokes, so that anyone who can write Chinese is able to follow how the calligrapher formed the strokes. In this way, we are able to trace how each stroke and character was formed and follow the creation of the composition in our mind’s eye.

Zheng Xie creates a strong sense of rhythm by varying the thickness of his strokes — some are short and stubby, and others are broad and thick; some are open and expansive, and others appear cramped and crowded. He also alternates between making some characters more print-like, while other strokes become abbreviated and cursive, adding dynamism and energy to the work as a whole.

Characters that show  the varying thickness of strokes employed by Zheng Xie: 1. Short and stubby; 2. Broad and thick; 3. Open and expansive; 4. Cramped and crowded; 5. Some characters, like this one, are print-like; 6. Other strokes become abbreviated and cursive

 

  1. A poet at work

There are some who approach Chinese calligraphy as if it were a work of abstract art, without interest in the meaning of the composition. But the writers of these inscriptions were keenly aware of the meaning, and Zheng Xie was a poet himself.

This poem focuses on creating an atmosphere of quiet and calm at the end of a hectic day of government service. It tellsof a secluded spot in nature where the author retreats and what he finds there to enrich and comfort him:

Outside the city, where is the foliage most lush? / By the decorated walls where the settling sunlight filters through the pine forest. / A single note comes from the pure-sounding stone, and the sky seems like water, / At evening on the river the reflection of the moon is like frost. / The monks are calm at this remote place, and I often visit, / Floating like a cloud from my government office; I am pained when I must depart. / On the trellis are grapes like ten thousand pearls, / The autumn wind must have rememberd that this old man loves to eat them. (Translated by Jonathan Chaves)

Can this sense of quiet and melancholy be seen in the calligraphy? That is for each viewer to say.

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Here boldness and strength rather than elegance, a stylistic form he learned from the first master he copied, Huang Tingjian (1043-1105)

  1. Imitation as a form of flattery

Chinese calligraphy and painting are learned by copying the works of past masters, their achievements providing a firm foundation from which one can build one’s own style.

Looking at Zheng Xie’s calligraphy, we see the firm, vertical strokes; the dramatic, flaring diagonals; and the preference for boldness and strength over elegance that Zheng learned from the first master he copied, Huang Tingjian (1043–1105), who was said to have wielded his brush as though it was a sword.

Here we see Zheng’s preference for boldness and strength over elegance, something he he learned from the first master he copied, Huang Tingjian (1043–1105)

His style is also characteristic of the clerical script used for official documents during the Han dynasty and which Zheng studied intently and favoured.

 

  1. A break with tradition

Zheng Xie was part of a group of Qing dynasty artists who turned away from the classical tradition defined by fluidity and refinement, based especially on the style of the ‘Sage of Calligraphy’ Wang Xizhi. Instead, these erudite artists sought out and studied old Han dynasty clerical script writings that were preserved on stone stele carvings and rubbings, which had been largely ignored in preceding centuries.

In this austere, bold and somewhat awkward style of the past, they found a new energy, innovation and fresh expressivity for their work. This trend gained momentum and was widely influential into the modern period.

 

  1. Personal character

For a work of calligraphy to be truly successful, it must reveal the personality of its writer — it is believed that an immoral person cannot produce a truly fine work of art.

Zheng Xie was born in the Yangzhou area and was reportedly impoverished in his youth. He learned to paint from his father and managed to study to the point that he achieved the rare goal of passing the highest level of the imperial examination system. From there, a career in the government was largely assured, and Zheng was appointed as magistrate in Shandong.

During his tenure, he was noted for his efforts to assist the poor, especially during times of disaster, through building shelters and distributing grain. However, these actions caused conflict with some of the wealthier citizens and his fellow officials.

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Zheng resigned from the government because he refused to curry the favour of his superiors

Finally, after 12 years, Zheng resigned from the government because he refused to curry the favour of his superiors. Instead, he returned to Yangzhou, then a prosperous community supportive of artists, and made his living by selling his paintings and calligraphy.

He is well known by his nickname, Banqiao, which literally means ‘Plank Bridge’ and evokes an image of rusticity and functionality. His distinctive and innovative artistic style, as well as his strong personality, marked him as one of the key figures of the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou.

 

  1. Unique style

When we examine Zheng Xie’s unique brand of calligraphy, preferring awkwardness to easy refinement, we see a man who refused to play political games and compromise his principles. We see the energy that he used to take actions to alleviate the sufferings of others. We see his deep and original understanding of the past. In his unmistakably distinctive style, we also glimpse the unique character of someone who was called an ‘Eccentric’.

Zheng’s signature illustrates his distinctive style of calligraphy and the unique character of a man who was called an ‘Eccentric’

Since the Song dynasty, the connection between calligraphy and painting has been often expressed. Zhao Mengfu (1254–1322) explicitly used calligraphy brushstrokes to form the various elements of his landscape paintings. Zheng Xie embraced the same idea, but it was his calligraphy that was informed by his paintings — he derived his calligraphy brushwork from the strokes he used to paint the orchids and bamboo that he is best known for today.

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 With thanks to Christie’s New York

 

Christies post tips on collecting Chinese export ware

In the 1700s, ‘Made in China’ was the ultimate mark of sophistication for Western por celain collectors. Here, Christies specialist Becky Maguire gives 7 tips for building a collection of Chinese export ware in a wide range of styles in advance of their important January 21 sale in New York.

 1. Chinese export porcelain isn’t just blue and white

 

A famille rose punchbowl, circa 1785. Estimate: $5,000-8,000. This lot is offered in the Chinese Export Art sale on 21 January at Christie’s New York

 Most of us think first of the ubiquitous blue and white when we hear ‘Chinese export’. We’ve seen it in Whistler and Sargent portraits, at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate, in Amsterdam townhouses and in our grandmother’s pantries — and bulk-ordered blue and white porcelain decorated with generic mountain landscapes did comprise the overwhelming majority of China Trade cargoes.

But the other 2 per cent — largely colourfully-enamelled wares — were at the top of the market and remain so today. Made over three centuries and with decoration ranging from Chinese myths and legends to exotic botanical blooms, ‘famille rose’ and ‘famille verte’ enamelled porcelains appeal both to specialised collectors and to those looking for high quality decoration for their interiors.

A large ‘Lambert’ dish, circa 1722. Estimate: $5,000-8,000. This lot is offered in the Chinese Export Art sale on 21 January at Christie’s New York

2. Let armorial porcelain tell its stories of the 18th century elite

It’s the Chinese export ‘private trade’ porcelain, those pieces specially commissioned by Dutch and English East India Company directors or investors, by European royals and aristocracy or by Yankee merchants, that really makes collectors’ hearts beat faster. And at the top of the ‘private trade’ list is armorial porcelain, the great dinner services, tea services and decorative pieces made to order with European coats-of-arms. These pieces reflected the absolute latest in fashion, not just in their decorative borders but also in their forms, which evolved as trends emerged and as 18th-century cuisine developed.

Armorial porcelain can connect you directly to important personages of the day: Louis XV of France, Catherine the Great, the ‘Princely’ Duke of Chandos and many, many more had Chinese armorial services. This very large dish is from a set made for wealthy London merchant Sir John Lambert, who ordered it at the peak of his power, just before his fortune collapsed in the famous 1720 South Sea Company ‘bubble’.

3. Find fascinating — and amusing — social history in porcelain

 

A very rare Grisaille ‘London Hospital’ bowl. Second half 18th century. Estimate: $20,000-30,000. This lot is offered in the Chinese Export Art sale on 21 January at Christie’s New York

 

A particularly charming and even quirky Chinese export category is known as ‘European subject’. These wares were painted to order in China after popular Western paintings and prints, with scenes ranging from literary to topographical, mythological or historical, up to and including political cartoons.

A rare dated Dutch market shipping plate, dated 1756. Estimate: $10,000-15,000. This lot is offered in the Chinese Export Art sale on 21 January at Christie’s New York

A rare famille rose ‘Don Quixote’ soup plate, circa 1740. Estimate: $15,000-25,000. This lot is offered in the Chinese Export Art sale on 21 January at Christie’s New York

This year’s Chinese export sale is particularly rich in this category, which was the focus of the Jefferson Miller collection. A very rare bowl shows the newly built London Hospital, while a plate painted with an image of the Dutch ship Vryburg was commissioned by Captain Jacob Ryzik, as its inscription notes. Another very rare plate is finely enameled with Don Quixote and the faithful Sancho Panza.

 

4. Palace porcelains for penthouses

 

A massive blue and white five-piece garniture. Kangxi Period (1662-1722). Estimate: $70,000-100,000. This lot is offered in the Chinese Export Art sale on 21 January at Christie’s New York

Large-scale pieces — what I call ‘country house’ porcelain — decorated the great 18th-century European houses and has just as much impact in a modern penthouse or loft today. Large pairs of Chinese export jardinières or floor-standing vases, like the famous ‘soldier vases’ that stood guard in the palace of Augustus the Strong, King of Poland, were equally at home in an Amsterdam townhouse or a Gilded Age Newport ballroom; their timeless elegance suits any era’s interiors.

A super example from our January sale is this massive garniture, with its vibrant cobalt blue and classic shapes. Very difficult to produce in a simple wood-fired kiln, costly to buy and expensive to ship, large-scale Chinese export pieces are sought by new and established buyers.

 

6. Look for relationships with European silver

A pair of large famille rose coffeepots and covers, circa 1740. Estimate: $12,000-18,000. This lot is offered in the Chinese Export Art sale on 21 January at Christie’s New York

A rare blue and white Monteith. Kangxi period (1662-1722). Estimate: $30,000-50,000. This lot is offered in the Chinese Export Art sale on 21 January at Christie’s New York

Chinese export made in European shapes is another category that we find mirroring changing Western tastes through the decades. Modelled after fashionable silver forms, these wares include soup tureens, coffee and tea pieces, candlesticks and candelabra, ewers and basins and wine coolers. With a fascinating mix of Chinese-tilted decoration and Western form, European-shaped wares appeal to the decorative arts sophisticate but are also just easy to like and to live with.

Look for quality of modelling and rarity of form, as well as attractive decoration and good quality enameling or painting. European-shaped pieces are well-represented in our sale by this pair of coffeepots with bird-head spouts and a very rare and handsome blue and white monteith bowl.

 

7. Build your own porcelain menagerie

A rare massive seared hound, 18th century. Estimate $50,000-80,000. This lot is offered in the Chinese Export Art sale on 21 January at Christie’s New York

A rare famille rose European couple, circa 1770. Estimate: $15,000-25,000. This lot is offered in the Chinese Export Art sale on 21 January at Christie’s New York

Lastly, we have the very appealing category of birds, animals and figures. Chinese potters had a long tradition of modelling lifelike ceramic figures to accompany an important dead person in the afterlife, and a special affinity for these sculptures in porcelain.

Eighteenth-century Europeans were captivated by the porcelain exotic birds, court figures and then-unknown pug dogs made in China, and these models soon became highly desirable as decoration for grand European houses. Smaller figures were often scattered on dinner tables (as nascent German porcelain factories quickly realised), while large Chinese animal-form tureens were borne into the dining room emitting steam.

 

An Elephant sauce tureen and cover and two stands, circa 1785. Estimate: $50,000-70,000. This lot is offered in the Chinese Export Art sale on 21 January at Christie’s New York

The Chinese export sale this month boasts such rarities as a near life-size hunting hound and a sleepy elephant tureen from the well-known Sowell Collection, as well as a sweetly smiling Dutch couple, her dress perhaps a little more Chinese than was intended when the order was made.

 


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Chinese furniture, paintings and Qing ceramics perform well in New York

International auctioneers Christie’s report from New York that their Asian Art Week sales there, which took place from September 15-18, totalled US$54.9m. There are some interesting conclusions to be drawn from this strong performance.

Firstly, it suggests that that private collections with good provenance can still outperform the market. It also serves to indicate that demand for quality Chinese furniture and paintings is particularly strong, trailed by demand for Qing ceramics. The top of the market is evidently unaffected by the more general slowdown.

 Christie’s concluded its Fall Asian Art Week with a combined total of $54,891,189 (£35,331,837/ €48,558,639/ HK$425,412,188) achieved over four days of nine sales, September 15-18.

RESULTS OF ASIAN ART WEEK SALES | September 2015

The Sporer Collection of Himalayan Sculpture – 15 September                                         

Total: $6,099,000

TOP LOT: Lot 18

A GILT BRONZE FIGURE OF VAJRABHAIRAVA AND VAJRAVETALI, TIBET, 16th CENTURY

Estimate: $400,000-600,000

Price Realized: $989,000

Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Art – 15 September                                        

Total: $2,946,750

TOP LOT: Lot 66

AN IMPORTANT AND RARE MOTTLED SANDSTONE FIGURE OF BUDDHA, INDIA, LATE 1st / EARLY 2nd CENTURY

Estimate on request

Price realized: $1,085,000

Fine Chinese Paintings – 16 September                                        

Total: $4,597,000

TOP LOT: Lot 411

QIU YING (ATTRIBUTED TO, CIRCA 1495-1552) IMMORTALS PLAYING CHESS

Estimate: $300,000-400,000

Price realized: $1,805,000

The Ruth and Carl Barron Collection of Fine Chinese Snuff Bottles: Part I – 16 September                                       

Total: $1,253,438                                                           

TOP LOT: Lot 248

A RARE FIVE-COLOR-OVERLAY PINK GLASS SNUFF BOTTLE, IMPERIAL, PALACE WORKSHOPS, BEIJING, 1750-1850

Estimate: $18,000-22,000

Price realized: $68,750

Mandarin & Menagerie: The Sowell Collection, Part II  – 16 September                                            

Total: $927,875

TOP LOT: Lot 631

A RARE FAMILLE ROSE OCTAGONAL BOX AND COVER, YONGZHENG PERIOD (1723-1735)

Estimate: $20,000-30,000

Price realized: $112,500

Elevated Beauty: Fine Chinese Display Stands From An Important Private American Collection – 17 September                                           

Total: $428,875

TOP LOT: Lot 1066

A RED LACQUER SCROLL-FORM STAND, 18th CENTURY

Estimate: $12,000-18,000

Price realized: $32,500

The Lai Family Collection of Fine Chinese Furniture and Works of Art – 17 September                                        

Total: $6,989,313                                                        

TOP LOT: Lot 919

A MAGNIFICENT AND VERY RARE MASSIVE NANMU-INSET HUANGHUALI PAINTING TABLE, HUA’AN, 17th CENTURY

Estimate: $1,000,000-1,500,000

Price realized: $2,261,000

Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art – 17 and 18 September                        

Total: $22,878,875

TOP LOT: Lot 2030

AN IMPORTANT AND VERY RARE SET OF FOUR HUANGHUALI ‘FOUR-CORNERS-EXPOSED OFFICIAL’S HAT’ ARMCHAIRS, SICHUTOUGUANMAOYI, LATE 16th-EARLY 17th CENTURY

Estimate: $1,800,000- 2,500,000

Price realized: $4,197,000

 

Christie’s offer stunning Chinese furniture in New York . . . and some good advice

Collecting Guide 10 things to know about Chinese furniture

Above: Property from the Lai Family Collection, to be offered in The Lai Family Collection Of Fine Chinese Furniture And Works of Art sale on 17 September at Christie’s New York

Auctioneers Christie’s are offering over the next few days some stunning Chinese furniture in their New York sales. They have also posted online some excellent advice on how to build your collection of Chinese furniture.

Collecting Guide: 10 things to know about Chinese furniture

Specialist Michelle Cheng shares her expert insights with Brienne Walsh, from befriending a great restorer to placing the pieces in your home

Classical Chinese Furniture generally refers to a wide variety of pieces made in the Ming and Qing Dynasties, which ran from the end of the 14th century through the beginning of the 20th century. These include tables, cabinets, chairs, stools, and bedframes, as well as other furnishings used in domestic settings. The materials, condition, age and provenance are the greatest determination of value.

 

1. Familiarize yourself with the most commonly used woods in Chinese furniture

Chinese furniture is made in a variety of hard and soft woods, and is also found in bamboo and lacquer. The price differences between two similar-looking pieces from the same time period in different materials can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. ‘It doesn’t mean that they’re not of the period or great examples,’ says Christie’s New York specialist Michelle Cheng of the less desirable woods. ‘It’s just that the furniture market is very material driven market.’

A rare Zitan corner-leg side table, Tiaozhuo. 17th-18th century. 32 7/8 in. (83.5 cm.) high, 44 in. (111.8 cm.) wide, 21.3/4 in. (52.2 cm.) deep. Estimate: $70,000-90,000. This work is offered in The Lai Family Collection Of Fine Chinese Furniture And Works of Art sale on 17 September at Christie’s New York

The most valuable of all of these materials is zitan and huanghuali, two types of hard wood that come from Hainan Island, Southeast Asia, which were historically considered the most precious and luxurious. Along with having beautiful lustrous qualities, the woods were difficult to harvest and not native to China, making them even rarer. ‘If you’re a collector looking to have your collection grow in value,’ says Cheng, ‘focus on examples in is huanghuali and zitan.’

Learning how to properly identify the materials used in individual pieces of furniture takes time and patience. Cheng suggests, ‘handling as many pieces as possible, whether it’s through auctions, exhibitions, speaking to respected dealers or looking at objects in museums.’

Fortunately, there are exemplary collections throughout the world, including the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. If you don’t have access to a museum or an auction house, Cheng suggests looking through old auction catalogues or books written on the subject. ‘Education is a really important part of collecting.’

 

2. Know how the furniture is constructed

Chinese furniture is generally made without any glue or nails — rather, the pieces are held together by a complicated network of joints, which are themselves works of art. ‘The sophisticated technical abilities of the cabinet makers and carpenters who made them were incredibly advanced,’ Cheng notes. ‘It’s very impressive to see the complexity and intricacy of the joints.’

A very rare Huanghuali Square Box-Form Stool, Fangdeng. 17th century. 18.1/2 in. (47cm.) high, 17.3/4 in., (45.1 cm) square. Estimate: $120,000-180,000. This work is offered in The Lai Family Collection Of Fine Chinese Furniture And Works of Art sale on 17 September at Christie’s New York

Beyond adding to your appreciation of the object, learning how a piece was made will help you assess how a piece of furniture may have been altered or repaired — factors that can affect the overall value.

 

3. Don’t be afraid to get under a piece of furniture

Given that Chinese furniture was used in daily life, it’s likely that even the most exemplary pieces have gone through some restorations. ‘They have a history because they were used objects, part of a home, moved around,’ says Cheng. ‘Restoration work might include replacements, patches in woods, or mended legs.

A magnificent and very rare massive Nanmu-Inset Huanghuali painting table, Hua’an. 17th century. 34 in. (86.4 cm.) high, 94.3/8 in. (239.7 cm.) in. wide, 32 in. (81.4 cm.) deep. Estimate: $1,000,000-1,500,000. This work is offered in The Lai Family Collection Of Fine Chinese Furniture And Works of Art sale on 17 September at Christie’s New York

To preserve the aesthetic line of a piece restoration is concealed on the underbelly of a piece. The best way to see what work has been done is to flip it over: ‘It’s the only way to assess the condition,’ Cheng notes.

 

4. Befriend a great furniture restorer

More than anyone else, a furniture restorer can assess the condition of a piece. ‘They understand how the joints work, and how they affect the overall structural integrity,’ Cheng explains. This can determine how you integrate the work into your daily life.

A Tielimu rectangular corner-leg stool, Changfangdeng. 17th century 19 7/8 in. (50.5 cm.) high, 20 1/2 in. (52.1 cm.) wide, 17 3/4 in. (45.1 cm.) deep. Estimate: $12,000-18,000. This work is offered in The Lai Family Collection Of Fine Chinese Furniture And Works of Art sale on 17 September at Christie’s New York

A restorer can help with everything from restoring a surface to replacing old parts that have decayed due to age. They are also a good educational resource for learning about Chinese furniture. Cheng suggests being involved with them during the process of restoration. ‘If you watch them resolve the problem of putting back together a system of joints, it adds to the overall appreciation of the piece itself, and Chinese furniture in general.’

A large Huamu-inset Huanghuali round-corner tapered cabinet, Yuanjiaogui. 17th-18th century. 59 3/4 in. (151.8 cm.) high, 36 5/8 in. (93 cm.) wide, 18 1/2 in. (47 cm.) deep. Estimate: $200,000-300,000. This work is offered in The Lai Family Collection Of Fine Chinese Furniture And Works of Art sale on 17 September at Christie’s New York

Also, as your collection grows, a good restorer will develop a working knowledge of your collection and will be able to better advise how best to care for the works.

 

5. Invest in climate control

Chinese furniture is made from organic materials that react to the environment. In humid weather, wood can expand, and in cold weather, it shrinks. Subjecting wood to conditions where the environment is unstable can lead to cracking panels and movement in the joints, among other problems.

Serious collectors overcome this by installing humidifiers and other forms of climate control in their homes. ‘If you’re invested in having it restored and maintaining the integrity of your collection, part of the maintenance is making sure the environment is ideal for the work so that it can retain its shape and lustre,’ says Cheng.

 

6. Don’t be afraid to make the furniture a part of your life

Pieces are surprisingly sturdy, Cheng continues. She has seen clients actively use everything from tables to bookshelves — and even large beds. In fact, one of her clients placed an ordinary mattress on a Ming Dynasty bed. ‘Make it a living part of your home,’ she suggests.

A rare Huanghuali bookcase, Shujia. 17th century. 66 1/4 in. (168.3 cm.) high, 35 3/4 in. (90.8 cm.) wide, 17 1/2 in. (44.5 cm.) deep. Estimate: $80,000-120,000. This work is offered in the Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale on 17-18 September at Christie’s New York

Chairs and stools are often set with mat seats. Over time, the seats will tear or collapse. Replaced mat seats are very common and an expected condition issue that does not affect value. Replacing seats, when necessary, will help to integrate a chair or stool into your daily life.

Surface wear, she notes, can be restored — which is not to say that you should not use coasters on tables or take care with the objects — but rather that you shouldn’t be afraid to use your furniture.

 

7. Be honest with yourself about a piece that does not fit into your lifestyle

Cheng states that no matter how much you love an object, if it’s too big to fit in your dining room, for example, it’s just not the right piece for you. While it’s possible to put a piece in storage for future use, what furniture really asks is to be integrated into your life. ‘I want people to think of tables as both part of their daily life and a beautiful object in their collection,’ says the specialist.

 

8. Learn Chinese furniture’s wonderful two-dimensional history

One of the most interesting parts of collecting antique objects is learning about how people originally used them. The way to do this with Chinese furniture, Cheng suggests, is studying Chinese painting and woodblock prints.

Attributed to Qiu Ying (circa 1495-1552), Immortals playing chess (detail). Handscroll, ink and color on silk. Estimate: $300,000-400,000. This painting will be offered in our Fine Chinese Paintings sale on 16 September at Christie’s in New York

‘There are amazing interior spaces in paintings from the Ming and Qing dynasties,’ she says. Seeing how people sat on top of a daybed, or what they placed on top of a table, for example, gives a contemporary collector a better idea of how the furniture was used and provides a historical context.

‘We’re so far removed from their history,’ Cheng adds. ‘It’s hard for us to think today, “Oh, that’s right, these stools are meant to be portable, or this bed is meant to have curtains around it”.’ In the latter case, she explains, women opened the curtains to receive her ladies during the day, and closed them for privacy at night.

 

9. Provenance matters

A magnificent and very rare Huanghuali Kang table, Kangzhuo. 17th century. 11 ½ in. (29.2 cm.) high, 42 in. (106.7 cm.) wide, 28 in. (71.1 cm.) deep. Estimate: $500,000-700,000. This work is offered in the Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale on 17-18 September at Christie’s New York

If you’re looking to build a collection of long-lasting value, then you should pay attention to its origin and where it’s been. ‘Our collectors are very interested in distinguished provenance,’ Cheng says.

This includes not only who owned the piece in the past, but also, who owned it in recent history. ‘Many collectors in the field respect the eyes and knowledge of certain collectors and experts,’ she says. Along with the type of wood and condition of a piece, provenance adds significant value.

 

10. Collect what you love

A rare Nanmu and Huamu traveling bookcase, Tushuxinggui. 17th century. 27 1/8 in. (68.9 cm.) high, 24 7/8 in. (63.2 cm.) wide, 15 1/2 in. (39.4 cm.) deep. Estimate: $60,000-80,000. This work is offered in The Lai Family Collection Of Fine Chinese Furniture And Works of Art sale on 17 September at Christie’s New York

‘Whether it rises or falls in value, whether your children will inherit it, whether it’s important or significant in the art historical trajectory, you, at the end of the day, have to say good morning or good night to it,’ concludes Cheng.

An important and very rare set of four Huanghuali ‘four-corners-exposed official’s hat’ armchairs, Sichutouguanmaoyi. Late 16th-early 17th century. 48 in. (122 cm.) high, 23 1/4 in. (59 cm.) wide, 18 5/8 in. (47.4 cm.) deep. Estimate: $1,800,000-2,500,000. This piece will be offered in our Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale on 17-18 September at Christie’s in New York

Even if you don’t have the money to enter the market at the highest price points, there are still many opportunities. While a stool in zitan and huanghuali will sell for $100,000, a classical piece made from a softer wood might sell for around $18,000. Ultimately, however, what’s most important is that you enjoy the process of collecting and its enriching educational experience. As Cheng concludes, ‘Collecting what you love makes you happier in general.’

 

 


 

 

 

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QIU YING (ATTRIBUTED TO, CIRCA 1495-1552)
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AN IMPORTANT AND VERY RARE SET OF FOUR… September 17 2015, New York, Rockefeller Plaza Lot 2030

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A MAGNIFICENT AND VERY RARE MASSIVE… September 17 2015, New York, Rockefeller Plaza Lot 919

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A LARGE HUAMU-INSET HUANGHUALI… September 17 2015, New York, Rockefeller Plaza Lot 920

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A TIELIMU RECTANGULAR CORNER-LEG STOOL,… September 17 2015, New York, Rockefeller Plaza Lot 933

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Fine Chinese Paintings September 16 2015, New York, Rockefeller Plaza Sale 3765

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The Lai Family Collection of Fine Chinese… September 17 2015, New York, Rockefeller Plaza Sale 3769

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Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art September 17 – September 18 2015, New York, Rockefeller Plaza Sale 3767

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Christie’s: ‘King of Ming’ collections expected to realise US$35 million plus

THE COLLECTION OF ROBERT HATFIELD ELLSWORTH

 MARCH 17 TO 21, 2015 AT ROCKEFELLER CENTER

ALL LOTS TO BE SOLD WITHOUT RESERVE 

SIX LIVE AUCTIONS AND A SERIES OF ONLINE-ONLY SALES 

COLLECTION TO REALIZE IN EXCESS OF US$35 MILLION

Christie’s have announced that the landmark five-day auction series devoted to the collection of the celebrated American scholar, dealer and collector Robert Hatfield Ellsworth, will be running March 17 to 21 at Christie’s flagship New York galleries at Rockefeller Center.  After successful tours to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, and London last autumn, Christie’s is unveiling Mr. Ellsworth’s collection of over 1,400 lots that will be sold without reserve via an extended, eight-day public exhibition leading up to the start of the auction series. To honor the collecting legacy of Mr. Ellsworth —  fondly nicknamed “The King of Ming” — Christie’s will recreate the sumptuous interior of the celebrated  22-room Manhattan residence, where he lived among superb examples of Asian art, blended effortlessly with fine English silver and antiques in his signature style.

This extraordinary collection, widely considered to be one of the most important private collection of Asian Art ever to come to market, is expected to realize in excess of US$35 million.

Robert Hatfield Ellsworth by Gene Maggio, NY Times

Robert Hatfield Ellsworth by Gene Maggio, New York Times

Robert Hatfield Ellsworth (1929-2014), was a distinguished American scholar, dealer and collector of Asian Art who was widely recognized throughout Asia and the Americas for his ground-breaking role in the study and appreciation of Asian Art. Mr. Ellsworth was a passionate connoisseur who opened new arenas of collecting to Western audiences and built a successful business purveying the very finest works of art to his generation’s foremost collectors. During his long career, he counted John D. Rockefeller, Brooke Astor and the actress Claudette Colbert among his clients and dear friends. His home became an epicenter of New York art society, where he greeted both friends and fellow scholars, and perfected the harmonious East-meets-West design aesthetic that has influenced so many decorators since.

Among Mr. Ellsworth’s greatest scholarly contributions to Asian art was his reevaluation of modern Chinese painting, of the 19th and early 20th century, a period that had been largely ignored by critics and academics. He revealed the results of his decades-long investigation into modern Chinese painting in Later Chinese Painting and Calligraphy: 1800–1950, a groundbreaking multi-volume project. In addition, Ellsworth donated some 471 works of later Chinese painting and calligraphy to New York’s Metropolitan Museum, a testament to the collector’s belief that his source material should be available to everyone.  For more background on Mr. Ellsworth, please click here.

To celebrate this exceptional collection, Christie’s is organizing public exhibitions, a five-day series of live auctions and a series of online-only sales to be held during Asian Art Week at Christie’s New York.

A TOUR OF A RARE COLLECTION

Robert Hatfield Ellsworth led an elegant and stylish life, surrounded by rare and superb works in his grand Fifth Avenue apartment in New York City.  To step inside his vast and exquisitely appointed residence was to be surrounded at every turn by magnificent objects representing a lifetime of collecting. His admiration and respect for Asian and Western art was apparent in his library, which was adorned with distinguished English furniture and décor with fine Asian bronzes placed throughout the room. The first lot of the Evening Sale that opens the auction series will be one of Mr. Ellsworth’s most treasured pieces, a fine gilt-bronze figure of a bear, Western Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 8) (estimate: $200,000-300,000).  This 3-inch tall bear sat prominently on Mr. Ellsworth’s impressive George II mahogany pedestal desk (estimate: $8,000-12,000).

In addition to the fine scholar’s objects on his desk, collectors will also be drawn to the remarkable Southeast Asian bronzes artfully displayed on the far right corner of his desktop, including a figure of Avalokiteshvara, Thailand, 8th century (estimate: $300,000-500,000) and a figure of Buddha, Thailand, 8th century (estimate: $250,000-350,000).

Robert Hatfield Ellsworth 5th Avenue Apartment

Inside Robert Hatfield Ellsworth’s opulent New York apartment Photo Christie’s

Revealing Mr. Ellsworth’s sophisticated eclectic taste, the foyer was adorned with a bold modern Chinese painting of Lilies by Pan Tianshou (1897-1971)(estimate: $700,000-900,000) flanked by a pair of George I walnut and parcel-gilt two-light girandoles (estimate: $5,000-8,000), directly above a very rare pair of huanghuali bamboo-form continuous horseshoe-back armchairs, quanyi, China, late Ming-early Qing dynasty, 17th century-early 18th century (estimate: $300,000-500,000). He also placed a Southeast Asian bronze rain drum (estimate: $6,000-8,000) supporting a Japanese bamboo flower basket, Taisho period, 20th century (estimate: $6,000-8,000); and a Ningxia pillar rug, North China, early 19th century (estimate: $10,000-15,000) at the foyer entrance.

One of his first purchases as a teenager was a large polychrome wood figure of a seated bodhisattva, China, Song-Jin dynasty (AD 960-1234) (estimate: $200,000-300,000), which he prominently displayed in the living room. Notably mentioned in Orientations 1991 article “Not for Sale: A Few of Robert Ellsworth’s Favourite Possessions”, Ellsworth identified the seated figure as the one object he would seize first in event of fire.

In 1971, Mr. Ellsworth published Chinese Furniture: Hardwood Examples of the Ming and Ch’ing Dynasties, a groundbreaking book that set new standards for dating Chinese furniture. The living room held some of the finest examples of classic Chinese huanghuali furniture ever assembled, including an extremely rare and important set of four huanghuali horseshoe-back armchairs, quanyi, China, Ming dynasty, 17th century (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000); a very rare huanghuali waisted rectangular corner-leg games table, China, Ming dynasty, 17th century (estimate: $500,000-700,000); and a rare huanghuali ‘four-corners-exposed’ official’s hat arm chair, sichutouguanmaoyi, China, Ming dynasty, 17th century (estimate: $300,000-500,000).

The living room also featured with a pair of Japanese six-panel screens, Stable With Fine Horses, Anonymous, Edo Period, 17th century (estimate: $200,000-250,000), and bronzes formerly in the Pan-Asian Collection, which was a significant assemblage of important artworks representing the full scope of aesthetic and spiritual traditions throughout India, the Himalayas, and Southeast Asia.  It is highlighted by a large and important gilt-bronze figure of Avalokiteshvara, Nepal, 13th century (estimate: $2-3 million); a highly important figure of Shiva Gangadhara Nataraja, South India, Tamil Nadu, Chola Period, 9th century (estimate: $2-3 million); and a gilt-bronze head of Buddha, Thailand, Sukkothai period, 14th /15th century (estimate: $80,000-120,000).

A consummate host, Mr. Ellsworth took pleasure in entertaining scholars, collectors, celebrities, and fellow dealers admist the superb objects he chose to keep for his own collection.  His dining room also displayed his unerring eye and ability to combine East and West, where fine Chinese furniture and Asian sculptures blended with English silver and European paintings. This room features a rare pair of huanghuali lampstands, dengtai, China, Ming dynasty, 17th century (estimate: $60,000-80,000); an important stone figure of Buddha, Thailand, Dvaravati period, 8th century (estimate: $200,000-300,000); a pair of Regency Sheffield-plated wine coolers, circa 1815 (estimate: $5,000-8,000); and a portrait of Madame Dupleix de Bacquencourt, née Jeanne-Henriette de Lalleu, attributed to Jean-Marc Nattier (Paris, 1685-1766) and Studio (estimate: $20,000-30,000).

Residing on the headboard in Ellsworth’s bedroom was a rare and important bronze figure of a Yogi, possibly Padampa Sangye, Tibet, 11th/12th century (estimate: $1,000,000-1,500,000), which was also part of the Pan-Asian Collection. So cherished was this sculpture in the Ellsworth household that when it was sent to the Los Angeles County Museum in the mid 1980s, the housekeeper, noticing the work had been removed, threatened to leave if the beloved work was not returned promptly.  This figure is a masterwork of early Tibetan art and is possibly a portrait of one of the most renowned sages in Tibetan Buddhism, Padampa Sangye. The sculpture is widely regarded as a magnum opus of Tibetan art.  Rarely do works of such iconic and supreme distinction come onto the market.

PUBLIC EXHIBITION March 11-18, please click here for exhibition hours 
ROBERT H. ELLSWORTH MEMORIAL LECTURES March 13, 3pm-5pm 
PART I – MASTERWORKS INCLUDING INDIAN, HIMALAYAN AND SOUTHEAST ASIAN WORKS OF ART, CHINESE AND JAPANESE WORKS OF ART   March 17, 6pm
PART II – CHINESE FURNITURE, SCHOLAR’S OBJECTS AND CHINESE PAINTINGS  March 18, 10am and 2pm 
PART III – CHINESE WORKS OF ART: QING CERAMICS, GLASS AND JADE CARVINGS  March 19, 10am and 2pm 
PART IV – CHINESE WORKS OF ART: METAL, SCULPTURE AND EARLY CERAMICS  March 20, 10am and 2pm 
PART V – EUROPEAN DECORATIVE ARTS, CARPETS, OLD MASTER PAINTINGS AND ASIAN WORKS OF ART  March 21, 10am
PART VI – THE LIBRARY March 21, 10am 
ONLINE ONLY SALE March 18- 27
   

 

Related Sale Sale 11418 THE COLLECTION OF ROBERT HATFIELD ELLSWORTH VOLUME I – MASTERWORKS INCLUDING INDIAN, HIMALAYAN AND SOUTHEAST ASIAN WORKS OF ART, CHINESE AND JAPANESE WORKS OF ART TUESDAY, 17 MARCH 2015 New York, Rockefeller Plaza
Sale 11419 THE COLLECTION OF ROBERT HATFIELD ELLSWORTH VOLUME II – CHINESE FURNITURE, SCHOLAR’S OBJECTS AND CHINESE PAINTINGS WEDNESDAY, 18 MARCH 2015 New York, Rockefeller Plaza
Sale 11420 THE COLLECTION OF ROBERT HATFIELD ELLSWORTH VOLUME III – CHINESE WORKS OF ART: QING CERAMICS, GLASS AND JADE CARVINGS THURSDAY, 19 MARCH 2015 New York, Rockefeller Plaza
Sale 11421 THE COLLECTION OF ROBERT HATFIELD ELLSWORTH VOLUME IV – CHINESE WORKS OF ART: METAL, SCULPTURE AND EARLY CERAMICS FRIDAY, 20 MARCH 2015 New York, Rockefeller Plaza
Sale 11422 THE COLLECTION OF ROBERT HATFIELD ELLSWORTH VOLUME V – EUROPEAN DECORATIVE ARTS, CARPETS, OLD MASTER PAINTINGS AND ASIAN WORKS OF ART SATURDAY, 21 MARCH 2015 New York, Rockefeller Plaza
Sale 11423 THE COLLECTION OF ROBERT HATFIELD ELLSWORTH VOLUME VI – THE LIBRARY SATURDAY, 21 MARCH 2015 New York, Rockefeller Plaza
Sale 11220 THE COLLECTION OF ROBERT HATFIELD ELLSWORTH VOLUME VII – CHINESE WORKS OF ART ONLINE 18 March – 27 March (Online Only) Amsterdam

Largest ever Asian collection to be auctioned will show in London next month

 

Robert Hatfield Ellsworth 5th Avenue Apartment

Most of the items for sale come from James Hatfield Ellsworth’s 5th Avenue 22-room apartment, the scene of many glittering parties.

 

 The renowned Asian art collection of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth, who passed away in August 2014, is to be put for sale by Christie’s in March next year. It is, apparently, the largest collection of Asian art ever to appear at auction – some 2,000 objects – and will only be sold online in live auctions taking place during Asian Art Week in New York. However, Christie’s are to tour the contents of the auction internationally and it will be possible to see this remarkable collection at Christie’s in London (St. James’ Street) between December 15 and 19.

Widely recognized throughout Asia and the Americas for his ground-breaking role in the study and appreciation of Asian Art, Mr. Ellsworth was a distinguished connoisseur who opened new arenas of collecting to Western audiences and built a successful business purveying the very finest works of art to his generation’s foremost collectors. His personal collection of over 2,000 items was assembled over a lifetime and widely recognized as the most important grouping of Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian sculpture, paintings, furniture and works of art. To celebrate this exceptional collection and the generous and benevolent man behind it, Christie’s is organizing free public exhibitions and a special five-day series of auctions and online-only sales to be held during Asian Art Week at Christie’s New York in March 2015. A global tour of highlights from the collection kicks off November 21 in Hong Kong, and will continue to stops throughout Asia and Europe prior to the New York sales.

 About Robert Hatfield Ellsworth

Few individuals have made such an invaluable contribution to the study and appreciation of Asian art in the West than Robert Hatfield Ellsworth. Embracing ancient bronzes and Ming furniture, fine jade, Modern Chinese painting, and Himalayan, Indian, and Southeast Asian works of art, Ellsworth was fully immersed in every facet of the Asian art historical canon. His prolific contributions to Asian art mark him as one of the last true connoisseur-dealers, an icon of scholarship, personal magnetism, and cultural philanthropy. Among his accolades, Ellsworth was made an honorary Chinese citizen in recognition of his scholarship, philanthropy and cultural preservation efforts, and was named an honorary consultant and curator of the Beijing History Museum and the Museum of Fine Arts in Hoffei, near Huangshan.

Born in New York in 1929, Mr. Ellsworth displayed an unwavering curiosity and devotion to objects from a young age. As a child he collected Chinese postage stamps and as a teenager, he began ‘flipping’ Asian objects he collected for a handsome profit. Ellsworth’s dealing garnered him a sizable personal collection; at just nineteen years old, he was already selling snuff bottles to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

After architectural training at the Franklin School of Professional Arts, and further studies in Bern and Lausanne, he returned to the United States from Europe in 1948 and went to work for antique dealer Frank Stoner, whose firm specialized in English and German ceramics, and through Stoner, he met the Asian art dealer Alice Boney, who took on Ellsworth as a protégé and, ultimately, dear friend.

In her Park Avenue apartment, Boney greeted visitors wearing luxurious silk robes and antique jade jewelry — a habit Ellsworth himself later adopted.  Mr. Ellsworth’s own Fifth Avenue apartment was a testament to his mentor’s vision of the connoisseur-dealer: Asian art melded so effortlessly into the surroundings that buying and selling become a refined, even pleasurable experience. Using works from her own collection, Boney taught her pupil how to identify the marks of date, value, and beauty that made collectors eager to possess one of her objects.

During a brief stint in the United States Army in the early 1950s, Ellsworth took advantage of his stationing in Honolulu, Hawaii, to re-start his career in the field of Asian art. When he returned to New York in 1960, Ellsworth partnered with the New York dealer James Goldie. Their gallery, Ellsworth & Goldie, offered traditional English furniture and decorative art alongside works of Asian art. When Goldie retired in 1970, Ellsworth took the business solo, moving to a historic townhouse on East 64th Street before purchasing the Fifth Avenue apartment that would become his home and gallery.

Robert Hatfield Ellsworth by Gene Maggio, NY TimesEllsworth pictured in his 5th Avenue Apartment by Gene Matteo  of The New York Times in 1980

Ellsworth’s career as an independent dealer fortuitously coincided with the opening of relations between China and the West and his business grew as trade increased. Although he had visited Hong Kong regularly for nearly thirty years — the collector also kept an apartment in the Kowloon district — he was thrilled at the opportunity to discover the riches of Mainland China. He was the first American art dealer to visit the newly opened China, giving him unparalleled exposure to the best in Chinese art and antiquities.

Later in his career, Robert Ellsworth came to build a reputation as a passionate preservationist of some of China’s most important cultural heritage sites. In 1992, the collector made his first visit to Huangshan, an area in the Anhui province, and undertook the restoration of a beautiful and decaying family temple called Baolunge, which was constructed during the Ming Dynasty. He recognized the importance of continued preservation efforts throughout China, and became a staunch advocate for the many cultural heritage sites under threat from development and dilapidation. He established the Chinese Heritage Art Foundation in Hong Kong to amass a donor base to support future heritage projects across the country.

About The Collection

The sumptuous interior of Mr. Ellsworth’s own 22-room Manhattan residence displayed the collector’s obsession with Asian art — as well as his signature elegance and joie de vivre. Fine Chinese furniture and sensual Indian bronzes mingled effortlessly with the best in Western design and decoration.  His apartment became a gathering place for clients, academics, and members of the international bon ton. It was a unique, glamorous world of commerce and pleasure, the product of a decades-long journey in fine art.

CHINESE FURNITURE: Ellsworth was one of the first Westerners to champion the beauty of Chinese furniture, foreseeing the popularity of sleek, minimalist interior design in the late twentieth-century. His love of Chinese furniture grew throughout his career and culminated in the landmark 1971 text, Chinese Furniture: Hardwood Examples of the Ming and Early Ch’ing Dynasties. Dedicated to Alice Boney and illustrated with many works from his personal collection, the book has become the standard reference for dealers and collectors.

A true scholar as well as a connoisseur, he continually revised his methods of dating and identification as the category of Chinese Furniture grew in popularity.  After Brooke Astor funded a new Chinese courtyard at New York’s Metropolitan Museum in 1977, Ellsworth gifted two hardwood wardrobes, a three-drawer alter coffer, and four chairs incised with calligraphy to the new space.

In 1982, the collector returned to Hawaii to catalogue the Chinese furniture collection of the Honolulu Academy of Arts, one of the primary centers for the study of Asian furniture in the United States. Fourteen years later, he collaborated on a special Chinese-English catalogue of the collection of Mimi and Raymond Hung, which included fine examples of Classical Chinese Furniture.

MODERN CHINESE PAINTINGS: Mr. Ellsworth’s greatest scholarly contribution to Asian art was his reevaluation of Modern Chinese painting, a period covering the 19th and early-20th centuries that had been largely ignored by critics and academics. Ellsworth revived an entire field of art historical scholarship and created an entirely new category in collecting. He became the first individual to assemble a comprehensive holding of paintings by the great Modern Chinese masters, and pushed art historians to concede that Chinese painting had not simply ‘ended’ in 1800.

 Robert Hatfield EllsworthEllsworth’s home was a place of pilgrimage for collectors of Asian art for decades right up until his death in August 2014

Throughout the 1960s, Ellsworth continued to expand his collection of Modern Chinese works, acquiring a substantial batch of 19th century paintings he believed warranted further scholarship. At one point, Ellsworth’s collection of Modern Chinese art grew to nearly 500 works, the largest assemblage outside of China. With a trove of paintings at his disposal, Ellsworth recognized that 19th century Chinese painters were actually the forerunners to the bold, energized compositions found in the twentieth century. In 1987, he revealed the results of his decades-long investigation into Modern Chinese painting in Later Chinese Painting and Calligraphy: 1800–1950, a groundbreaking multi-volume project. Later Chinese Painting and Calligraphy revitalized an entire art historical period, shedding new light on works that had been previously ignored by curators and collectors.  In 1985, Ellsworth donated some 471 works of later Chinese painting and calligraphy to New York’s Metropolitan Museum, a testament to the collector’s belief that his source material should be available to everyone.

Cataloguing and complete details of the Collection of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth will be announced in January 2015.

Auctions and Online-Only Sales: March 2015 at Christie’s Rockefeller Center

Global Tour Dates and Locations:

  • Hong Kong: 21 – 25 November, Hong Kong Convention Centre
  • Shanghai: 6 – 11 December, Christie’s Galleries at Ampire House
  • Tokyo: 11 – 12 December, Christie’s Galleries
  • London: 15 – 19 December, Christie’s King Street
  • Beijing: 15 – 20 December, Christie’s Galleries at the Imperial Club
  • New York: March exhibition, Christie’s Rockefeller Center

 

 

Megadeal secures ‘Min’ Fanglei archaic bronze

It was scheduled to be sold in public yesterday by Christie’s in a single lot sale. It was, indeed, sold March 19, a day early, and the sale was by secret, private treaty. All we know is that this extraordinary piece, an archaic Western Zhou (possibly Shang) bronze known as the ‘Min’ Fanglei, or square piece, was sold for a figure in excess of US$20m. (yes, twenty million US dollars).

min fanglei

It was previously sold at Christie’s in New York in March 2001 for US$9m, then a record for a Chinese archaic bronze. The purchaser was rumoured to have been an Italian collector who has just died. His wife offered it for sale. That means a tremendous profit on the piece over a period of thirteen years: a profit which reflects the soaring prices for many categories of Chinese art, especially for fine Western Zhou pieces.

This particular piece is a massive bronze ritual wine vessel, reckoned to be one of the finest to ever come on the market. It was estimated pre-sale at US$15m. and an offer was made in the last few days of $20m. This was rejected by the owner and, accordingly, we understand, the successful bid was well in excess of $20m.

It has been bought, it is understood, by a group of wealthy collectors, many of whom come from, or have interests in, China’s Hunan Province. They have agreed, it is said, to donate the piece to the Hunan Museum which already possesses a lid, thought to be from this particular vessel, and which is rich in fine Western Zhou works.

The provenance is excellent. It has been owned or handled by many illustrious collectors: A W Bahr, C F Yau and C T Loo among them.