next sale of Asian Art, to be held on June 11, includes 302 lots of Chinese, Buddhist and Japanese art. The sale begins with a rare collection of 102 Chinese snuff-bottles --- several of them of imperial origin --- from the 18th and 19th centuries.
The highlight of this private collection, patiently assembled over 20 years, should be a rare black and white jade snuff-bottle from the Suzhou School of Zhiting (c.1750-1850), featuring the explorer Zhang Qian, said to have discovered the Milky Way (estimate 40,000-60,000).
Other important snuff-bottles sure to arouse the interest of collectors include one from the Daoguang Period (1821-50) with iron-red fish decoration (lot 4, est. 10,000-15,000); a pink glass snuff-bottle with the Qianlong mark, dated 1774 (lot 18, estimate 15,000-20,000); and a snuff-bottle in famille rose porcelain from the Qianlong Period (1736-95) with lotus decoration (lot 39, est. 30,000-40,000).
The collection also includes snuff-bottles made from glass and white jade, like one from the School of Suzhou (18th century) carved with bats flying above the waves (lot 17, est. 6,000-8,000). Agate snuff-bottles include one from the official school (1780-1880) depicting an eagle beneath a pine-tree (lot 92, est. 8,000-12,000).
The sale continues with a selection of Asian ceramics and works of art. There is a fine ensemble of famille verte porcelain from the Kangxi period (1662-1722), from an aristocratic collection and, until recently, housed in the south of France. A collection of famille rose porcelain assembled by a couple of French collectors includes this pair of monumental vases from the Qianlong Period (lot 118, est. 30,000-40,000).
Other highlights include an exceptional pair of Qianlong famille rose boxes with "100-deer" decoration, from a collection in western France (lot 152, est. 30,000-50,000); and, especially, a rare, blue-and-white Ming porcelain flask decorated with flowers of the four seasons, from the Yongle Period (1403-24). Only five other examples of this model exist, all in museums. The sixth, to be offered here, could be found until recently in the lounge of a family château in the west of France, mounted as a lamp (lot 176, est. 200,000-300,000.
Several pieces with the imperial mark complete the ceramics section --- notably a Qianlong famille rose vase with lotus decoration (lot 153, est. 25,000-35,000); and a large, rare porcelain vase with green and aubergine patterning on a yellow ground, with the mark of the same reign (lot 162, est. 80,000-120,000).
Buddhist statuary plays a central role in the sale, led by the piece shown on the front-cover of the catalogue: a very rare grey limestone Buddha (height 4ft 7in) from the Sui Dynasty (581-618). Consigned from a private French collection, and formerly in the C.T. Loo Collection, this first appeared at auction in 1969, at the Palais Galliera in Paris (lot 192, est. 500,000-700,000). Another highlight is a precious 7th century (Tang Dynasty) Buddha in white marble, seated on a tiered pedestal (lot 188, est. 120,000-180,000).
The sale's gilt-bronzes include a 16th century, Ming Dynasty statue of Guanyin Avalokiteshvara that has been part of the same collection since the 19th century (lot 187, est. 30,000-40,000).
Works of art include some splendid jades --- notably a rare, archaistic 16th century Ming rhyton (lot 260, est. 60,000-80,000). From the same private French collection comes a Qing imperial vase from the reign of Qianlong (1736-95), acquired at the Hôtel Drouot in 1976 (lot 259, est. 25,000-35,000); and, from even closer to the imperial circle, a white jade bowl bearing the Qianlong Yuyong mark designating pieces reserved exclusively for the emperor's use (lot 248, est. 80,000-120,000).
The world of the literati is evoked by some magnificent rhinoceros-horn libation cups, like a boat carved with the immortal Zhang Qian (lot 228, est. 70,000-90,000); a 17th century cup featuring Dongfang Suo stealing the peaches of immortality from the garden of the Queen Mother of the West (lot 220, est. 40,000-60,000); and an 18th century cup with unusual lion-and-eagle decoration (lot 227, estimate 20,000-30,000).
Among the Japanese art which traditionally concludes Asian Art sales is a wonderful series of tanto and katana, led by an outstanding 14th century Katana Juyo Token from the Nanbokucho Period (lot 297, est. 30,000-40,000).