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Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art at Sotheby's
An Important Imperial Painting from the Set of Seventeen Paintings Commemorating the Victories of The Muslim Rebellion in the Northwest, Qing Dynasty, Guangxu Period comes from a private collection and has been off the market for over 50 years (est. $120/150,000). Photo: Sotheby´s.

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s September 2010 series of Asia Week auctions in New York will include Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 15 September. The sale will feature paintings, ceramics, jades and furniture including a number of Imperial works from distinguished private collections. Overall the sale is estimated to fetch between $11.8/16.2 million.

Among the highlights of the sale is a Superb and Rare White Jade Vase and Cover, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period, an exquisitely carved vessel from a small group whose designs are based on archaic bronzes (est. $500/700,000). The Qianlong emperor put together a vast collection of archaic bronzes, symbolizing his power and legitimacy whilst also paying tribute to the past. Objects such as the present vase which are made of the finest materials evoked the values and heritage of these past dynasties and a number are now in the National Palace Museum in Taipei.

Among the important porcelain works in the sale is A Fine and Rare Tea-Dust Glazed Vase (Hu), Qianlong Seal Mark and Period, a pear shaped piece covered in a rich olive glaze (est. $120/150,000). The shape and coloring of the piece have similarities to the archaic bronze hu form. A Copper-Red Vase (Meiping), Qianlong Seal Mark and Period, is a further highlight (est. $80/120,000). This piece was made at Jingdezhen at a time when the use of copper-red glaze was on the rise. A contemporary account from Pere Francois D’Entrecolles, a French Jesuit missionary, details the high level of skill and technical knowledge required to produce these copper-red wares.

Following the success in March of Two Mynas on a Rock, a 1692 masterpiece by Bada Shanren which sold for $3 million – many multiples of the pre-sale estimate and a new record for a Classical Chinese Painting sold at Sotheby’s in the US, this auction will again present a strong group of classical Chinese paintings. The highlight of this group is a very rare early Ming Dynasty painting: Landscape in Commemoration of Retirement to Wu Shan by Yao Shou (est. $300/500,000). Yao Shou (1422-1495) retired from an official career after only five years of service. He returned home to Jiaxin, Zhejiang and dedicated himself to his painting, calligraphy, and poetry. This rare masterpiece expresses the artist’s genius and deep understanding of the painters before him. His compositional placement of the delicately textured hills on one side is balanced with the empty space of the lake. The composition draws many connections to the Yuan dynasty masters before him, but transcends them in refinement and originality.

A further major painting in the sale is a depiction of the siege and storming of Pinglianfu in Gansu province in the late 19th century. An Important Imperial Painting from the Set of Seventeen Paintings Commemorating the Victories of The Muslim Rebellion in the Northwest, Qing Dynasty, Guangxu Period comes from a private collection and has been off the market for over 50 years (est. $120/150,000). As depicted in historical sources the painting vividly illustrates how the Qing forces attached the fortress with ladders, stormed the city gate and laid traps to capture any escaping Muslim rebels.

The highlight of the furniture in the sale is A Fine and Rare Imperial ‘Zitan’ ‘Dahlia’ Table (Tiaozhuo), Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period, which is emblematic of the influence that European style pieces had on Imperial Chinese works of art during the Qing dynasty (est. $300/500,000). This period is considered the zenith of Chinese artistic production, but it was also a time when the emperor was fascinated with European art, as demonstrated by objects such as this as well as with larger, more elaborate, cultural projects. The piece, which is carved from the expensive zitan wood, is exceptionally rare with only one comparable table having been published.

Among a strong group of lacquer objects is a Very Rare Carved Polychrome Lacquer ‘Knick-Knack Peddler’ Box and Cover, Jiajing Mark and Period (est. $100/150,000). The box is remarkable for both the superb quality of the carving as well as the complex subject matter. The peddler is at the front of the scene surrounded by eight children. He is carrying his wares on his back in an array of vases and containers, an umbrella in the background is hung with various puppets and charms. Surrounding the whole scene are four dragons among clouds who are separated by Islands of Paradise. Depicting this scene in lacquer is so complex that it is more commonly found on paintings from the Northern Song Dynasty onwards.

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