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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Christies announce Asian Art in Europe programme for Spring & Summer 2016

a_turquoise-ground_famille_rose_five_boys_vase_qianlong_six-character_d5992017h One of Christies’ top sale items in current series

A TURQUOISE-GROUND FAMILLE ROSE ‘FIVE BOYS’ VASE QIANLONG SIX-CHARACTER SEAL MARK IN IRON-RED AND OF THE PERIOD (1736-1795) The vase is elaborately decorated with bats, eternal knots, peaches and multi-coloured lotus sprays, set against a bright turquoise ground. The mouth is encircled by a ruyi border and a band of classic scroll. The short foot is decorated with lappets and a key-fret band. The shoulder is moulded with two young boys, one holding a ruyi sceptre and the other holding a gold ingot. Three further boys are depicted to one side, climbing onto the vase. 12 ½ in. (31.8 cm.) high. Estimated at £300,000-500,000

This spring Christie’s will present a rich array of diverse and dynamic sales of Asian Art in Europe, including King Street and South Kensington in London, in Paris as well as online at christies.com. Collectively the sales offer a wealth of Chinese and Japanese art, spanning over 3,000 years of artistic practice and featuring exceptional artworks from important European collections.

The sales kick off in April with an online sale Asian Art Inspired by Nature, running from 19 – 28 April at www.christies.com/asianartonline comprising over 120 lots from a broad range of collecting categories. From classical Chinese paintings, Japanese works of art, Chinese ceramics and works of art to Asian contemporary art, this sale presents a unique opportunity for emerging collectors and experienced connoisseurs to acquire works of art inspired by Nature, with estimates starting at just $600 and ranging up to $30,000. The online sales calendar also includes Japanese Prints, 14 – 28 June; Japanese Art at the European Court, 23 June – 7 July; and Chinese Works of Art Summer Sale, 1 – 15 July.

Christie’s Chinese auctions in London will take place between 10 and 13 May. Together these sales will offer almost 700 lots including Chinese jades, ceramics, scholar’s objects, textiles, paintings and furniture. Inspired Themes: A Fine Selection of Chinese Works of Art will be held on 10 May at King Street; Chinese Ceramics, Works of Art & Textiles on 11 and 13 May at South Kensington.

Following the auctions in London, Christie’s Paris will host the traditional sale of Art d’Asie on 22 June, and works from The Portier Collection of Japanese Art will also be on view on 18 and 19 June. 

MAY AUCTIONS & EVENTS IN LONDON

Christie’s Late – Looking East: The Art of China

Christie’s South Kensington, 3 May

This May, the Christie’s Late event is dedicated to the arts of China – from the art of making tea and the Chinese language, to music, to artworks and objects that span thousands of years of creativity. The evening is free and open to all in London to meet Christie’s Chinese art specialists and will include talks, Mandarin Chinese classes, and a Chinese printmaking workshop lead by artist He Weimin from the Muban Educational Trust. Find out more at www.christies.com/lates

Inspired Themes: A Fine Selection of Chinese Works of Art

Christie’s King Street, 10 May 

On 10 May Christie’s King Street will present Inspired Themes: A Fine Selection of Chinese Works of Art, a sale showcasing exceptional examples of Chinese ceramics, jades, Buddhist art, paintings and furniture, with many of the artworks originating from distinguished private European collections. The sale spans a broad period of Chinese history, ranging from an early Western Zhou Dynasty (12th-11th century BC) bronze ritual food vessel, gui (estimate: £40,000-60,000), to modern Chinese painting including Mouse and Candlestick by Qi Baishi (estimate: £80,000-120,000). The ceramics section features a rare Yongzheng mark and period (1723-1735) Ming-style blue and white floral vase (estimate: £200,000-300,000) and a Qianlong mark and period (1736-1795) turquoise-ground famille rose ‘five boys’ vase (estimate: £300,000-500,000). The sale will also feature an exquisite selection of Buddhist art, highlighted by a rare and large Ming Dynasty (15th-17th century) polychrome wood figure of Guanyin (estimate: £80,000-120,000); a 19th century silk embroidered Thangka depicting the Panchen Lama Ensapa Lobsang Dondrup (estimate: £40,000-60,000); and a magnificent set of four gilt-bronze figures of Buddhist guardians dating to the 17th-18th century (estimate: £120,000-180,000). 

Chinese Ceramics, Works of Art and Textiles

Christie’s South Kensington, 11 and 13 May

Christie’s South Kensington will offer the highly anticipated Chinese Ceramics, Works of Art and Textiles sale on 11 and 13 May with over 580 lots across a wide range of media, spanning over three thousand years of Chinese art and with estimates ranging from £1,000 up to £50,000. The sale includes a number of notable private collections which present imperial mark and period porcelain, jade carvings, Song and Ming dynasty carved Buddhist wood sculpture, hardwood and bamboo scholars’ objects and Chinese robes. A Private Asian Collection of 65 lots presents 19th and 20th century zitan, hardwood, bamboo and boxwood brush pots and scholar’s objects. The sale also features jade carvings, ceramics and works of art from the Lever Collection – further works from this collection will be included in the Inspired Themes: A Fine Selection of Chinese Works of Art auction at King Street on 10 May.

 The Dani and Anna Ghigo Collection

Christie’s King Street, 11 and 12 May

On 11 and 12 May, Christie’s King Street will present The Dani and Anna Ghigo Collection. A true antiquarian and discerning collector, Dani Ghigo was a leading Italian carpet dealer, who over the last 50 years, together with his wife Anna, formed this remarkable private collection. Housed in the Ghigo ancestral home on the hillside in Turin, the collection vividly captures the breadth of the couple’s knowledge and passion for carpets, South East Asian, Himalayan & Indian sculpture, French & Italian furniture, tapestries, and Chinese & Japanese works of art. The Chinese element of the collection dates from the early Ming to the late Qing dynasty (14 th-20th century). The majority of lots were made primarily for the Chinese domestic market. Highlights include two rare, almost life size, painted-wood Buddhist figures of bodhisattvas, which date from the late Yuan or early Ming period. The sale also features bronze and pottery Buddhist figures, jades, furniture, paintings including a large set of wallpaper panels, and decorative porcelain, as well as decorative Japanese laquer and works of art.

Arts d’Asie

Christie’s Paris, 22 June

On 22 June, Christie’s Paris will present its traditional summer Art d’Asie sale. The auction will offer over 400 lots of mainly Chinese and South East Asian works of art. Most of the pieces featured come from French and European private collections, including a fine selection of Ming and Qing fans and paintings from a French private collection. Highlights of the auction include a Chinese 18th century Zitan mirror stand decorated with dragons (estimate: €100,000-200,000) and an important Nepalese gilt-bronze repoussé figure of Vajradhara, 17th/18th (estimate: €100,000-150,000).

 ONLINE AUCTIONS – APRIL TO JULY

Asian Art Inspired by Nature

Online Only, 19 – 28 April

Asian Art Inspired by Nature will offer over 120 lots from a diverse range of collecting categories across Asian Art. The beauty of Nature has been celebrated by Chinese and Japanese culture throughout the ages and has found its expression in literature, music, Daoist and Buddhist beliefs and the arts, from classical paintings to porcelain, and from jade, cloisonné and bamboo to contemporary art. The online sale will be open for bidding at www.christies.com/asianartonline from 19 to 28 April, presenting a unique opportunity for emerging collectors and experienced connoisseurs to acquire works of art inspired by Nature.