With Asian art currently dominating the headlines in nearly every antiques trade publication, the timing is 10 out of 10 for Austin Auction Gallery
s Nov. 21 sale featuring a superb 38-lot collection of early Chinese jade. Amassed primarily in the 1970s by a U.S. Army colonel posted in Japan and later Vietnam, the collection contains purchases made during the officers extensive travels throughout the Orient.
The colonel and his wife had a great appreciation for Asian cultures, and collecting jade and ivory carvings, wood carvings and other Asian art became a lifelong hobby, said Ross Featherston, owner of Austin Auction Gallery. Among the countries they visited while living in Asia were China, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and Nepal. The pieces they acquired were displayed and enjoyed for many years.
The most intriguing entry in the sale is a 19th-century Chinese pale celadon jade carving of two crickets atop a cabbage. The 3.25-lb., 6½-inch-long carving was crafted to a very high standard and detailed to perfection, down to the bas-relief veins visible on the cabbages peeled-back leaves.
In the course of cataloging the jade collection, Austin Auction consulted with two high-profile experts on Asian art. It was the opinion of both specialists that the cabbage, from the late Qing/early Republic period, is quite exceptional a premier piece of jade, Featherston said. The lot is estimated at $3,000-$5,000, although Featherston noted that its value is anybodys guess, since we have not been able to find any records of a similar piece for comparison. We think collectors will view this as a very exciting discovery.
Standing 18 inches tall, a spinach-green Chinese jade carving modeled as Guanyin depicts the deity on a lotus-draped platform in front of a full-length pierced screen ($2,000-$4,000). Another key lot is a Chinese lotus-form double brush washer carved from translucent agate. Dating to the mid Qing Dynasty, the 3-inch piece is carved with lotus leaves serving as two separate bowls, adorned with flowers and birds along the rim of the bowl. The auction estimate is $2,000-$4,000.
The Nov. 21 auction includes rare and outstanding examples from several other categories of fine and decorative art and furniture. Dated 1875, a three-part hand-colored folk manuscript is, in actuality, an illustrated youth diary created by siblings Johnathan and Catharine King of Lancaster County, Pa. Twenty-five of the diarys 42 pages are profusely decorated with the childrens fraktur paintings of flowers, wagons, animals, farm and kitchen implements. Contained in a Ciphering Book published by Reuben Chambers, Bethania, Pa., the diary also includes four pages of mathematics inscribed by Jonathan King, and hand-written accounts of the childrens daily activities, with their chores including milking cows and washing dishes. Offered with decorative calling cards for both Johnathan and Catharine King, the lot is expected to make $2,000-$4,000.
Other American highlights include a 1914 Newcomb College vase created by Joseph Meyer and with the cipher of decorator Henrietta Bailey (estimate $4,000-$6,000); and a scarce 84-inch oak hall tree and bench with dual beveled mirrors and a central grandfather clock ($5,000-$7,000).
Approximately 50 lots of 18th- and 19th-century colonial Mexican art will be offered, including retablos painting on both canvas and tin. A 17 ¾-inch by 13-inch framed oil on canvas of The Repentant Magdalene is a naïve artwork that depicts the important female Christian disciple in a sensitive downward gaze, surrounded by cherubim ($400-$600).
A fine selection of antique European furniture has been cataloged for this sale. Among the highlights is a circa-1890 monumental Italian Renaissance-style sideboard, its upper shelf supported by four 20-inch griffins. The entire piece is richly adorned with foliate and figural carving, with the finishing touch being a monogrammed crest presented by winged putti. It carries an estimate of $5,000-$10,000. From the same decade, a Louis XV gilt and ormolu cabinet in the Vernis Martin taste features a landscape painting on each of its sides as well as a central-door painting of a courting couple in lavish attire ($2,000-$4,000).
Two lots in the sale consist of Mid-century Modern furniture designs by Pierre Jeanneret (1896-1967), a Swiss architect who often collaborated with his famous cousin Charles Jeanneret, a k a Le Corbusier. Both the Jeanneret teak desk with leather writing surface and six storage cubicles ($6,000-$8,000) and the set of six teak chairs with cane seats and backs ($4,000-$6,000) come with provenance from the Punjab Civil Secretariat of Chandigarh, India.
The 470-lot auction includes numerous other furnishings, paintings and decorative art, as well as small selections of coins, furs and jewelry. Four lots of pin-up art by Olivia de Berardinis (b. 1949) will be sold, including two signed and dated (1996) watercolors, each estimated at $2,000-$4,000; and two Playboy limited-edition lithographs, each of which is expected to make $400-$600.
All forms of bidding will be available for Austin Auction Gallerys Nov. 21, 2010 Multi-Estates and Chinese Jade sale, including live via the Internet through LiveAuctioneers.com.