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Sotheby's Sale of Fine Chinese Ceramics to Be Highlighted by a Blue And White "Peony" Jar
A Magnificent Large Carved Spinach Jade 'Dragon' Brush Washer, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period. Estimate: £60,000-80,000. Photo: Sotheby's.
LONDON.- In the wake of Sotheby’s record-breaking Autumn sales series in Hong Kong, which totalled over HK$3 billion, Sotheby’s biannual sale of Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art in London will take place on Wednesday, November 10, 2010 and presents for sale over 350 lots. The auction, estimated to realise approximately £5.76 million, will be headlined by a Magnificent Blue and White 'Peony' Jar, Guan, Yuan Dynasty, mid 14th century.

A magnificent Blue and White ‘Peony’ Jar, Guan, Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368) comes to auction from a Private Portuguese Collection, with an estimate of £400,000-600,000 (lot 32, illustrated on catalogue cover). Blue and white wares are undoubtedly one of the greatest contributions to the art of ceramics in history. In shape, design and painting style, the present vessel is an archetypal example of the 14th century blue and white porcelain, and represents the final stage of the gradual alteration in proportions of the shape known as guan. The neck is more distinctive, the shoulders broader and the body expanded to make the vessel appear stable and balanced. The dramatic swelling of the body –with the widest part just above the centre – contributes to the powerful profile of this guan shape, and the Yuan guan presented a new aesthetic image with its striking blue and white decorative scheme. The painting on the jar encompasses the most characteristic elements of Yuan porcelain design – the peony scroll, lotus scroll, waves, classic scroll and petal-panels or lappets. Each piece of blue and white guan was individually potted and finished; the flowers on this guan are sensitively rendered, and the cobalt colouration is deep and brilliant. The depiction of the petals on the lotus bloom on this jar is particularly distinctive, with the petals folding over to reveal the heart of the bloom, and the stamen also prominently displayed.

Among a selection of fine Imperial objects in the sale is a seated gilt-bronze figure of Amitayus, the Buddha of Infinite Life (est. £200,000-300,000; lot 233), and the elegant tall gilt-bronze figure of an attendant (est. £80,000-120,000; lot 259). Both stand out for their beauty, rarity and historical importance. Amitayus, a prominent figure of worship in Tibetan Buddhism, became extremely popular during the Qing dynasty (1644–1911) due to the close relationship between the Qing rulers and the Tibetan religious hierarchy. The figure was commissioned by the Kangxi emperor (r. 1662–1722) as a gift, possibly for his grandmother who was a devote Buddhist, and belongs to a select group of Buddhist figures made in the Imperial foundry. The Ming dynasty (1368–1644) attendant figure is an important piece because, unusually for Chinese sculpture, it is dated. It bears an inscription that confirms that the figure was made in 1641 on the orders of the Directorate for Imperial Accoutements (Yuyong jian), one of the major directorates of the Ming court responsible for overseeing the production of objects for the Emperor’s use.

A selection of ten pieces from the Collection of Francisco Capelo features in the sale, with estimates ranging from £15,000 to £80,000 (lots 145-154). Francisco Capelo, a keen collector, fell under the spell of ancient Chinese ceramics after seeing an exhibition of the Meiyintang Collection at the Museé Cernushi in Paris, which highlighted some of the finest achievements of Chinese potters from the Song and earlier periods. From this he developed his approach to Chinese ceramics, guided by both personal taste and an astute appreciation of quality. Ceramics from the Song dynasty (AD 960-1279) have a timeless beauty that has been a revelation to many an experienced art collector. This was undoubtedly the peak period of the potter’s craft, where the possibilities of forming on the potter’s wheel, of improving and expanding body and glaze recipes, of fine-tuning firing methods, and of introducing decorative effects with the help of basic carving tools or carefully administered colouring agents were brought to the greatest perfection. The exact outcome of each piece varied, imparting an individual and distinct identity and attraction. Song ceramics belong to one of four different categories: white, green, black and bright blue-glazed stonewares.

Included in the present collection is a 'Jizhou' Wave-Pattern Meiping, Yuan Dynasty, estimated at £40,000-60,000 (lot 150). Vases decorated in this free painterly manner are amongst the finest examples of wares manufactured at the Jizhou kiln site at Yonghezhen near Ji'an in Jiangxi province, formerly known as Jizhou. Although 'Jizhou' wares can be rough in their potting and are often sprinkled or splashed in an amber colour or use the sgraffiato technique for decoration, this vase is finely painted and is covered with a thin transparent gloss that makes it especially attractive. From the same collection comes A ‘Longquan’ Celadon ‘Twin Fish’ Dish, Yuan Dynastery, 13th/14th century, estimated at £40,000-60,000 (lot 145). Dishes of this popular 'twin-fish' design were made from the Southern Song period to the Yuan dynasty.

improving and expanding body and glaze recipes, of fine-tuning firing methods, and of introducing decorative effects with the help of basic carving tools or carefully administered colouring agents were brought to the greatest perfection. The exact outcome of each piece varied, imparting an individual and distinct identity and attraction. Song ceramics belong to one of four different categories: white, green, black and bright blue-glazed stonewares.

Included in the present collection is a 'Jizhou' Wave-Pattern Meiping, Yuan Dynasty, estimated at £40,000-60,000 (lot 150). Vases decorated in this free painterly manner are amongst the finest examples of wares manufactured at the Jizhou kiln site at Yonghezhen near Ji'an in Jiangxi province, formerly known as Jizhou. Although 'Jizhou' wares can be rough in their potting and are often sprinkled or splashed in an amber colour or use the sgraffiato technique for decoration, this vase is finely painted and is covered with a thin transparent gloss that makes it especially attractive. From the same collection comes A ‘Longquan’ Celadon ‘Twin Fish’ Dish, Yuan Dynastery, 13th/14th century, estimated at £40,000-60,000 (lot 145). Dishes of this popular 'twin-fish' design were made from the Southern Song period to the Yuan dynasty.

The sale will also include a Jadeite Archaistic Censer and Cover, Qing Dynasty, 19th Century (est. £30,000-40,000, lot 116). One of the rarest and most valued materials used during the eighteenth century, jadeite became popular in China shortly after it was introduced from Myanmar in the early Qing dynasty. The translucency and luminosity of the material itself and the archaistic style of the present piece reflect the artistic and intellectual tastes of the court. A Russet- Flecked White Jade Reticulated Incense Holder, Qing Dynasty, 18th/19th Century (est. £20,000-30,000, lot 142) is notable for the high relief carving which has been achieved through extensive undercutting. Its design and style of carving deliberately resembles that of incense burners and other scholarly accruements made of bamboo.

A Magnificent Large Carved Spinach Jade 'Dragon' Brush Washer, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period, is impressive for its immense size and the dynamic rendering of the complex design of five dragons chasing flaming pearls (lot 316). Estimated at £60,000-80,000, this piece belongs stylistically to the group of jade washers that derives from the famous 'black jade' wine bowl in the Round Fort in Beijing, created during the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) and once considered one of the wonders of the Mongol court.

Lot 304 comprises a pair of works by Qi Baishi (1864-1957), A Butterfly Amongst Flowering Branches Peaches And A Cricket Amongst Branches Of Gourds, estimated at £40,000-60,000.

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium





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