Kaisendo Museum de-accessions score at Bonhams HK


The first sale of six auctions in Bonhams new Auction Gallery at Admiralty in Hong Kong culminated in a sale of Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art which saw an unprecedented price achieved for a unique Imperial Ming lacquer scholars object.

J102865 Bonhams China Launch - MTR Panels OUTLINES @100%.indd

A most beautiful early Ming cinnabar lacquer scroll rest sold for £stg 408,042

A unique large cinnabar double-scroll rectangular carved stand, formerly used as a scroll rest, set a new record for any piece of Chinese lacquer sold at Bonhams.  Active bidding from collectors and dealers in Asia, Europe and America led to the estimates being greatly exceeded when an Asian buyer in the saleroom secured this great rarity for HK$5,320,000 (£ sterling £408,042).  It was consigned from the Kaisendo Museum, located in Kaminoyama city in Yamagata prefecture in Japan.  The scroll-rest was followed by a remarkable pair of carved cinnabar lacquer ‘one hundred boys’ rectangular boxes and covers, also intended for the scholar’s desk, sold together to preserve them as an exceptionally rare matched stationery and inkstone box.  They also substantially exceeded their estimates to sell for HK$3,160,000.  The final lot from the Kaisendo Museum, a rare three-colour lacquer circular ‘Pavilion’ box and cover, sold for HK$937,500.

These three lots from the Kaisendo Museum represented the highlights in a large auction which also saw strong prices for fine examples of jade carvings and Imperial porcelain.

The sale of Classical and Modern Chinese Ink Paintings achieved the highest total for this category Bonhams Hong Kong has ever achieved since it opened in 2007. This auction saw top prices for paintings by 20th Century masters including the exceptional study of ‘A Pair of Songbirds Perched Amidst Red Leaves’ by Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), which was bought by a new bidder to Bonhams for a record price of HK$9,040,000 (£693,365).

Lot 1278 Zhang Daqian-A Pair Perched Amidst Red Leaves Zhang Daquian sold for £693,365

Classical calligraphy included an exceptional rarity by the famous Ming dynasty artist Wen Zhengming (1470-1559) which recounts a famous Ming fictional story, ‘The Tale of the Old Drunkard Pavilion’, and went to a new private buyer for HK$7,840,000. A full audience showed the Chinese paintings market remains very strong at the top level.


Ashmolean gifted mega collection of Chinese modern art

Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum has been bequeathed the largest private collection of modern and contemporary Chinese art held in the West.

More than 400 modern and contemporary pieces of Chinese art have been left to the Museum by the art historian and connoisseur Professor Michael Sullivan, who died in September at the age of 96. Press reports have estimated the value of the collection at ‘more than £15m.’. In our view, £150m. would be nearer the mark: the collection contains works by Qi Baishi (12864-1957), Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), Fu Baoshi (1904-64) and contemporary painter Xu Bing (born 1955). A work by Qi Baishi recently fetched more than $40m.

Professor Sullivan was not only the first person in the West to collect Chinese modern art, but he was also the author of the ground breaking book Chinese Art in the 20th Century (1955). A regular visitor to China, he struck up personal relationships with many Chinese artists and his collection includes a significant number of works gifted to him. There is already a gallery at the Ashmolean named after him and his wife, The Khoan and Michael Sullivan Gallery, and in March 2014 there will be a commemorative exhibition Michael Sullivan: a Life of Art and Friendship.

The works in the newly acquired collection will be shown in rotation by the Museum.

Michael_Sullivan, Huang Xiang 2011

Professor Michael Sullivan pictured 2011 on a visit to China with artist Huang Xian