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Christie's Hong Kong announces Important Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art Fall 2013 Sales
A rare pair of yellow-ground famille rose pierced rim dishes. Sale 3263. Lot 3442, Estimate: HK$8,000,000-10,000,000/US$1,000,000-1,250,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2013.

HONG KONG.- On November 27, 2013, Christie’s Hong Kong will hold three sales of Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art as part of its Hong Kong 2013 Fall Auctions, which are estimated to realise in excess of HK$390 million/US$50 million. Two important single owner collections will be presented, The R.F.A Riesco Collection of Important Chinese Ceramics and Imperial Chinese Porcelain Treasures from a Distinguished American Collection, followed by the Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale.

A group of 24 works from The R.F.A. Riesco Collection of Important Chinese Ceramics will be presented this season. Coming fresh to the market with strong provenance, these incredibly fine works are predominantly from the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), but also include Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) examples and monochromes from the Early Period (11th-13th century). They were collected and personally catalogued over almost three decades by Mr Raymond F.A. Riesco (1877-1964), a businessman and passionate collector of Chinese ceramics. The collection came into the ownership of the London Borough of Croydon when the council purchased Mr Riesco’s home, Heathfield House, and surrounding land in Addington, South London, in 1964. Among the total 230 works in The Riesco Collection, 24 pieces are now being offered for sale with proceeds to be invested in Croydon’s cultural infrastructure. These works will go on a tour through Hong Kong, London and Taipei ahead of the Hong Kong sale, where they are expected to realise in excess of HK$113 million/US$14 million. Meanwhile, the majority of the collection, comprising 206 works spanning from the Neolithic period to the 19th century, will remain in the Riesco Gallery in the Croydon Clocktower, where they are already on free public view.

One of the single owner collections featured in the Autumn 2013 sales is Imperial Chinese Porcelain Treasures from a Distinguished American Collection. Comprising 14 pieces and estimated to realize in excess of HK$55 million/US$7 million, this group of porcelain spans from the early Ming to the mid-Qing periods and represents some of the best monochromes as well as doucai, famille rose and iron-red decorated polychrome wares produced during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

Leading the sale is a very rare carved apple-green enamelled `dragon' lantern vase with a Qianlong impressed six-character seal mark and of the period (1736-1795) (Sale 3265, Lot 3207, Estimate: HK$18,000,000-25,000,000/US$2,400,000-3,200,000). The vase is magnificent not simply for its large size, but for its exceptional decoration and portrayal of the power of the imperial dragons which encircle its sides. The five-clawed dragon, the most potent symbol of imperial majesty, is depicted on the vessel in carved relief. Another notable piece in the collection is a very rare tianbai-glazed anhua-decorated ‘pomegranate’ bottle vase, yuhuchunping, from the Yongle period (1403-1425) (Sale 3265, Lot 3211, Estimate: HK$8,000,000-12,000,000/US$1,100,000-1,500,000). The production of white-glazed porcelain during the Yongle period achieved technical virtuosity, distinguished by the very fine white body clay and luminous white glaze, which earned the glaze the name tianbai or ‘sweet white’ glaze. The pear-shaped vases (yuhuchunping) from the Yongle reign represent the most elegant manifestation of this classic form and this vase in particular is exceptionally well potted with perfect symmetry and proportions. Other highlights include a fine and rare copper-red and underglaze-blue decorated ‘apple-form’ water pot, Kangxi mark and period (1662-1722) (Sale 3265, Lot 3206, Estimate:7,500,000-9,500,000/US$970,000-1,200,000), a very rare doucai and famille rose basin dating to the Qianlong period (1736-1795) (Sale 3265, Lot 3214, Estimate: HK$3,800,000-5,500,000/US$500,000-710,000), and a pair of rare iron-red decorated ‘dragon and phoenix’ jars and covers, with Daoguang iron-red six-character seal marks and of the period (1821-1850) (Sale 3265, Lot 3213, Estimate:HK$4,000,000-6,000,000/US$520,000-770,000).

The Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale hosts a wide spectrum of categories, from Song to Qing ceramics, textiles, scholar’s objects, lacquer, bronzes, glass, to jades and jadeites. It was put together with the increasingly sophisticated and discerning tastes of collectors worldwide in mind. There are over 350 lots on offer, estimated to achieve in excess of HK$224 million/US$29 million.

The Su Zhu An Collection of Chinese Paintings and Inkstones is an important single-owner collection within this sale series. While 25 pieces of Chinese Classical Paintings and Calligraphy from the collection will be auctioned as part of the Chinese Paintings sales on November 25, Christie’s will also present 18 Chinese inkstones in the Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale on November 27. Some inkstones from the collection have been exhibited in the Osaka Municipal Museum of Art and the Gotoh Museum in Japan, a country with a long history of Chinese inkstone collecting that dates back to before the 16th century. Among them are three rare Yaohe “Orchid Pavilion” inkstones, all decorated with the subject of Orchid Gathering, the literary event famously recorded by Wang Xizhi in the spring of AD 353. Another key piece is a very rare Duan inkstone with seven “eye columns” on the back (Sale 3263, Lot 3263, Estimate: HK$800,000-1,200,000/US$110,000-150,000). Bearing the inscription by Xu Yu (circa 1700, son of Xu You) and the famous Qing scholar Ruan Yuan (1764-1849), the inkstone was formerly from the collection of Japanese painter Murata Kokoku (1831-1912).

A rare and important blue and white “Wanshou” vase (Sale 3263, Lot 3419, Estimate: HK$3,000,000-5,000,000/US$400,000-650,000) leads the sale. Made during the Kangxi Period (1662-1722) and measuring at an imposing height of 76.7 cm, the vase is robustly potted. Its exterior is exquisitely decorated in brilliant underglaze cobalt blue with 9,999 shou (longevity) characters and one wan (ten thousand) character, conveying the blessing of wanshou wujiang—“countless years of long life without limit”. It is generally believed by scholars that the vase was commissioned as a birthday present for the Kangxi Emperor or for his grandmother Grand Dowager Empress Xiaozhuang. Three other known examples are in public collections, including one at the Palace Museum in Beijing, one at the Nanjing Museum and one at the Art Museum of the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Other notable Qing imperial porcelain pieces include a rare pair of yellow-ground famille rose pierced rim dishes (Sale 3263. Lot 3442, Estimate: HK$8,000,000-10,000,000/US$1,000,000-1,250,000). The dishes, with intricate, colourful enamelling and with the very unusual design of pierced perforations around the rims, formerly belonged to the American collector Samuel C. Davis (1871-1940). They are the only Qianlong-marked yellow-ground examples of their type ever offered to the market. Another highlight is a rare blue and white vase, meiping, of Qianlong mark and period (1736-1795) (Sale 3263, Lot 3421, Estimate: HK$7,000,000-9,000,000/US$875,000-1,125,000). Of well-balanced proportions, it is sturdily potted with a broad shoulder and waisted neck, delicately painted in attractive bright blue tones of cobalt depicting six fruit and flower-sprays. An exceptional Yongzheng-period work is a Ming-style yellow-ground blue and white “morning glory” facetted vase (Sale 3263, Lot 3390, Estimate: HK$4,000,000-6,000,000/US$500,000-750,000). The vase is finely painted in inky blue tones on a bright lemon-yellow ground with a continuous leafy meander of morning glories, an extremely rare motif on imperial porcelain. Its unusual shape with facetted corners was exceptionally difficult to be fired successfully. This design is inspired by Ming Dynasty Xuande-period prototypes, reflecting the Yongzheng Emperor’s penchant for archaism.

A number of outstanding imperial cloisonné enamels in the sale include an important imperial cloisonné enamel inkstone warmer and cover (Sale 3263, Lot 3468, Estimate: HK$4,000,000-6,000,000/US$500,000-750,000) exquisitely decorated with ferocious dragons. Palace records show that the Qianlong Emperor took a personal interest in this warmer and actively participated in its design, including the elaborately cast reign mark, which is embraced by two coiling dragons in high relief. Identical examples can be found in the Palace Museum in Beijing and the National Palace Museum in Taipei. Another exceptional piece in this category is a rare pair of cloisonné enamel tripod censers and covers from the Qianlong period (1736-1795) (Sale 3263, Lot 3471, Estimate: HK$1,800,000-2,500,000/US$225,000-313,000).

One of the most superb jade works offered in this sale is an imperial white jade bajixiang bowl and cover from the Qianlong period (1736-1795) (Sale 3263, Lot 3398, Estimate: HK$3,500,000-5,000,000/US$430,000-625,000). Delicately carved with the Bajixiang (Eight Buddhist Emblems), a favoured motif on many imperial jade vessels, the bowl is excellently polished with a glossy satiny finish and is particularly precious since it retainins its original cover. Its exceptional workmanship undoubtedly represents the pinnacle of jade artistry in China in the 18th century.

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