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Sotheby's to Offer a Selection of Magnificent Imperial Porcelain from 'The Meiyintang Collection'
A supreme highlight is a Falangcai (‘foreign colour’) vase with golden pheasants, Qing Dynasty, AD 1736-95, expected to sell in excess of HK$180 million/ US$23 million / £14 million. Photo: Sotheby's.

HONG KONG.- Sotheby’'s announced that it will offer in Hong Kong on the 7th April 2011 selections from one of the grandest collections of Chinese Art formed in the last century, The Meiyintang Collection. Assembled over a period of more than 50 years, The Meiyintang Collection is world-renowned for having brought together magnificent examples of Imperial Porcelain and the sale will bring to market iconic pieces from each of the main reigns from the 14th to the 18th centuries. A supreme highlight is a Falangcai (‘foreign colour’) vase with golden pheasants, Qing Dynasty, AD 1736-95, expected to sell in excess of HK$180 million/ US$23 million / £14 million. Around 80 lots, estimated to bring HK$630 to HK$940 million / US$81-121 million / £50-77 million*, will be offered in a special evening sale and will form the centerpiece of the Chinese Porcelain and Works of Art on offer during Sotheby’'s Spring Sale Series in Hong Kong 2011.

Discussing the offering, Nicolas Chow, Deputy Chairman, Sotheby’'s Asia & International Head of Sotheby'’s Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art department, said: “The epitome of quality and rarity, The Meiyintang Collection was acquired piece by historic piece over the course of half a century. Discerning and disciplined, the collector sought only the most significant objects from each reign and worked closely with the foremost experts in the field, leading dealers E.T. Chow and Giuseppe Eskenazi. The result of this patient and learned process is a monumental collection that represents a lifetime’s pursuit of the definitive group of Chinese porcelain.”


Blue-and-white vase (yuhuchun ping) with a dragon
Jingdezhen kilns, Jiangxi province
Yuan dynasty, early to mid-14th century AD
height 24.7cm
Estimate: HK$8-12 million / US$1-1.5 million / £640,000-960,000

This vase belongs to the earliest pieces of blue-and-white from Jingdezhen, China’s foremost producer of fine porcelain from the 14th century until today. It comes from two famous English collections formed in the first half of the 20th century, that of Charles E. Russell and Mrs. Alfred Clark, and was included in many major exhibitions, among them the ground-breaking International Exhibition of Chinese Art at the Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1935-6, and the seminal Mostra d’Arte Cinese/Exhibition of Chinese Art in Venice 1954.

Underglaze-red painted dish with floral designs
Jingdezhen imperial kilns, Jiangxi province
Ming dynasty, Hongwu period (AD 1368-98)
diameter 45.5cm
Estimate: HK$25-30 million / US$3.2-3.8 million / £2-2.4 million

Massive dishes of this type, painted with the difficult-to-control underglaze copper-red pigment, are among the triumphs of the early Ming potters. This dish from the collections of Montague Meyer and the Manno Art Museum, Osaka, represents one of the rare successful specimens of a production period that experienced many unsatisfactory results. Only five other red-painted dishes of comparable size have ever been offered at auction.

Blue-and-white jar with lions playing with balls
Jingdezhen imperial kilns, Jiangxi province
Ming dynasty, Yongle period, early 15th century AD
height 18.5cm
Estimate: HK$40-60 million / US$5.1-7.7 million / £3.2-4.8 million

This vibrant design shows the accomplished brushwork of the early Ming porcelain painters to best effect. Lions playing with beribboned balls have many auspicious associations symbolizing physical and spiritual power and conveying wishes for high rank.

Turquoise gourd vase with Buddhist Emblems and lotus
Jingdezhen imperial kilns, Jiangxi province
Ming dynasty, Jiajing mark and period (AD 1522-66)
height 22.3cm
Estimate: HK$10-15 million / US$1.3-1.9 million / £800,000-1.2million

Gourd shapes, with their Daoist connotation – as attributes of Immortals and receptacles of elixirs of long life – were particularly popular during the Jiajing reign because of the strong Daoist beliefs of the Emperor. Although the imperial kilns experimented with a wide range of colours at the time, turquoise features very rarely on imperial porcelain. The present vase arrived in Europe at a very early period, when interest in imperial Chinese porcelain was still minimal. It comes from the Collection of Colonel Octave du Sartel (before 1881) and was later in the collections of Alfred Clark, H.M. Knight, and Jaap Ensing.

Wucai (‘five colour’) saucer with dragon and phoenix
Jingdezhen imperial kilns, Jiangxi province
Ming dynasty, Wanli mark and period (AD 1573-1619)
diameter 9.9cm
Estimate: HK$600,000-800,000 / US$77,000-103,000 / £48,000-64,000

This bright colour scheme and the dragon-and-phoenix design, symbolizing Emperor and Empress, were classic features of late Ming imperial porcelain. The wucai palette required two firings, one for the porcelain and the cobaltblue which was applied under the glaze, a second one for the other colours which were painted on top of the glaze. This small dish comes from the collections of Harcourt Johnstone, Mr and Mrs R.H.R. Palmer, Neil F. Phillips QC, and the Reach Family.

Famille verte (wucai) bowl with a bird on a peach branch
Jingdezhen imperial kilns, Jiangxi province
Qing dynasty, Kangxi mark and period (AD 1662-1722)
diameter 12.8cm
Estimate: HK$6-8 million / US$770,000-1 million /£480,000-640,000

This small bowl is unique and exceptional in the sensitivity of its painting, which echoes ink paintings on paper or silk. It comes from the collection of Captain Charles Oswald Liddell, who resided in China between 1877 and 1913, where he acquired porcelains from the collections of Yikuang, Fourth Prince Qing, the last Regent of the Qing dynasty, and from the private secretary and adviser of Li Hongzhang, influential statesman and diplomat around the same time.

Set of seven ‘peach-bloom’ vessels
Jingdezhen imperial kilns, Jiangxi province
Ming dynasty, Kangxi mark and period (AD 1662-1722)
heights up to 21.5cm
Estimate: HK$50-70 million / US$6.4-9 million / £4-5.6 million

This rare mottled copper-red glaze which in the West is referred to as ‘peach bloom’ and in China is likened to apples (pingguo hong) or beans (jiangdou hong), is known from only a very small number of vessel shapes. To assemble a set such as this has become almost impossible, since some vessel shapes are exceedingly rare and virtually unobtainable today.

Famille rose (fencai) peach box and cover
Jingdezhen imperial kilns, Jiangxi province
Qing dynasty, Yongzheng mark and period (AD 1723-35)
diameter 19.2cm
Estimate: HK$40-60million / US$5.1-7.7million / £3.2-4.8 million

The design of fruiting and flowering peach branches, which was developed in the Yongzheng period particularly for the famille rose palette, is known from dishes, bowls and vases, but no other box appears to be recorded. The petal panel design on the underside seems to be derived from slightly earlier copper-bodied enamel ware produced in the Beijing palace workshops. The box comes from the Frederick J. Van Slyke collection, a fabled assemblage of Chinese as well as European porcelains.

Falangcai (‘foreign colour’) vase with golden pheasants and a poetic colophon
Jingdezhen imperial kilns, Jiangxi province, and Beijing palace workshops
Qing dynasty, Qianlong enamel mark and period (AD 1736-95)
height 20.3cm
Estimated to fetch in excess of HK$180 million / US$23 million / £14 million

In its sensitive handling of the nature scene, the outstanding brushwork and the wide range and delicacy of the enamel colours, this bottle displays one of the finest paintings ever achieved on porcelain. Falangcai designates a style of enamelling on copper, porcelain and glass introduced by European artisans working in the Palace Workshops of the Forbidden City in Beijing, and the painting style here adopted, with its naturalistic rendering of the birds and accomplished shading of the flowers shows the influence of artists such as the Italian Giuseppe Castiglione (AD 1688 – 1766), who served as court painter under three Qing emperors. This vase is unique and works of art such as this are rare even in the former palace collections now in Beijing and Taipei.

All cataloguing and notes taken from Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from The Meiyintang Collection, Vols I-IV, Azimuth Editions /Paradou Writing Ltd, London, 1994-2010. Regina Krahl will be acting as Sotheby'’s consultant on this sale.

* Estimates do not include buyer'’s premium

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