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Fine Chinese ceramics and works of art for sale on 20 March at Sotheby's New York
Two Extremely Rare Famille Rose ‘Heaven and Earth’ Revolving Brushpots, with Qianlong seal marks and dated to the period. Ests. $120/150,000 and $80/120,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

NEW YORK, NY.- On 20 March 2012 Sotheby’s New York will present Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art as part of the Asia Week series of Auctions. The sale includes property from over seventy private collections some of which has not been seen in public for over fifty years. The auction features a wide selection of ceramics, jades and furniture including a number of Imperial works. Overall the sale is estimated to fetch between $11.9/16.8 million, the pre-sale exhibition opened this Friday, 16 March.

Among the highlights of the sale are two Extremely Rare Famille Rose ‘Heaven and Earth’ Revolving Brushpots, with Qianlong seal marks and dated to the period (ests. $120/150,000 and $80/120,000). Rich with Daoist and cosmological symbolism, only one other pair and two single examples of revolving brushpots from the Qianlong period are known to exist. The creation of revolving and interlocking porcelains represented an astonishing triumph of ingenious design and almost miraculous craftsmanship. The upper part of these two pieces represents Heaven with rainbow colored clouds, while the lower portion, the realm of a dragon - the Emperor – represents Earth.

Another brushpot from the same collection in the sale is An Imperially Inscribed Finely Carved Spinach Jade Brushpot, Qianlong Period, dated to 1795 (est. $200/300,000). Carved from a solid piece of jade, the rim of this superb brushpot is inscribed with a poem composed by the Qianlong emperor and exemplifies the zenith of pictorial carving achieved by craftsmen during his reign.

Notable ceramics in the sale include A Rare Guan-Type Octagonal Lobed Vase, Jiaqing Seal Mark And Period (est. $250/350,000) and A Large Blue And White 'Peony' Jar (Guan), Yuan Dynasty a classic representation of blue and white porcelain from the Yuan dynasty (est. $250/350,000).

A group of five Rhinoceros Horn cups that first came to light when they were appraised during an Antiques Roadshow event in Tulsa, Oklahoma are also included in the sale. The value placed on the cups by expert and Antiques Roadshow appraiser Lark Mason was, and remains, the highest ever given on the show. The cups had been collected by Douglas Huber over the course of 40 years; they represent a fine and comprehensive group that showcases the different styles of these extraordinary objects. Overall the group is estimated to fetch approximately $700,000/1 million.

The highlight of the group is A Rare And Exquisite 'Eight Immortals' Rhinoceros Horn Cup, Qing Dynasty, 17th/18th Century (est. $180/250,000). The piece depicts a lively interpretation of the eight immortals welcoming Shoulao, the god of longevity - a popular birthday motif that is used to wish the recipient a long life filled with blessings. The cup is similar to many in major museum collections and is notable for the carver’s attention to detail and skillful use of space.

From a different collection is A Rare and Impressive ‘Hundred Boys’ Rhinoceros Horn Libation Cup, Late Ming/Early Qing Dynasty, 17th Century (est. $350/500,000). The Hundred Boys theme has been a popular motif since the Song dynasty and continued to feature on ceramics into the Ming and Qing Dynasties

An Imperial Gilt-Bronze Archaistic Temple Bell (Bianzhong), dated to 1715, formed the centerpiece of a large and diverse collection of bells which was put together over several decades (est. $500/700,000). Bianzhong such as these were produced for the court during the Qing dynasty as an important part of Confucian ritual ceremonies, this example features dragons on top of the bell which are known as pulao.

Among the many superb examples of furniture in the sale is a fine collection of Huanghuali pieces, some of which boast excellent provenance. Among the highlights is A Fine And Rare Huanghuali Compound Cabinet (Dingxiang Gui), 17th Century which was constructed using a single piece of wood for both the leg and stiles (est. $250/400,000).

Another rare Huanghuali piece is A Fine and Rare Huanghuali Six-Post Canopy Bed (Jiazichuang), Ming Dynasty, 16th/17th Century. Of the known intact canopy beds virtually none retain their original paneled tops (est. $350/450,000), while A Huanghuali Continuous Yokeback Armchair (Nanguanmaoyi), 17th Century is particularly notable for its harmonious proportions (est. $200/300,000).

The archaic bronzes in the sale are led by A Rare Archaic Bronze ‘Double Owl’ Ritual Food Vessel (You), Shang Dynasty, 12th Century BC, the double-owl you represents an interesting final step on the evolutionary ladder of this intriguing form (est. $400/600,000).

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