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Sale at Christie's Offers Superb Chinese Works Largely Unseen for Thirty Years
A Celadon-Glazed Double-Gourd Vase. Qianlong Seal mark in underglaze blue and of the period (1736-1795), 13 in. (33 cm.) high. Estimate: $150,000 - 250,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2011.

NEW YORK, NY.- On March 24, Christie’s New York presents Magnificent Qing Monochrome and Earlier Works of Art from the Gordon Collection, a single-owner sale highlighted by a group of magnificent imperial monochrome-glazed porcelains from the Qing dynasty. The sale will feature 98 exceptional lots ranging from archaic bronze vessels to modern Chinese paintings, and is expected to realize in excess of $6 million.

The Gordons began collecting in the early 1970s, when relatively little Chinese art was available in America. Joining a circle of American collectors that included Arthur M. Sackler and Paul Singer, the Gordons bought mainly at auction or from premier dealers such as Frank Caro (successor to C.T. Loo) in New York and the firms of Eskenazi Ltd., S. Marchant and Son, Bluett & Sons Ltd. and John Sparks Ltd. in London.

The Gordons’ collection is impressively comprehensive, and comprises early bronze ritual vessels, a wide variety of ceramics, scholar’s objects of various media, and an interesting selection of modern Chinese paintings. Ceramics comprise the largest portion of the collection, with the majority focused on the period from the Tang to the Qing dynasties. Of particular note is a selection of magnificent Imperial monochrome porcelains dating to the reigns of the Yonzheng and Qianlong Emperors. The numerous works in this remarkable collection have remained largely unseen for some thirty years and are just now being brought to the attention of the wider art community.

Leading the sale is an exceptionally rare blue-glazed flask-form vase, Qianlong six-character seal mark in underglaze blue and of the period (1736-1795) (estimate on request). The striking and unusual form of this magnificent vase is based on Yueyao celadon-glazed stoneware prototypes from the Jin dynasty, 3rd-4th century, and is a vivid reflection of the Yongzheng and Qianlong Emperors' fondness for archaic shapes and designs. The charming bird-form handles are a fanciful Qing alternative to the small double-lug handles applied on the narrow sides of the Yueyao prototypes. The refined sculptural quality of the bird-form handles is accentuated by the thinning of the brilliant blue glaze on the wings, tails and beaks. Qing vases of this form are exceptionally rare, and include two in the Palace Museum, Beijing and one in the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Also included is a magnificent celadon-glazed carved baluster vase, Qianlong six-character seal mark in underglaze blue and of the period (1736-1795) (estimate: $2,000,000-4,000,000). The decoration and shape of this elegant vase were inspired by ritual food and wine vessels of the Western Zhou (c. 1050-770 BC) period and are representative of the archaistic style frequently seen in porcelain vessels from the Qianlong period. The antiquarian interest of the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1736-1795) influenced the efforts of the potters at the Imperial kilns to interpret the shapes and designs of archaic bronzes and antiquities of all types in porcelain.

Another monochrome highlight is a very rare blue-glazed slender baluster vase, Yongzheng six-character mark in underglaze blue within a double circle and of the period (1723-1735) (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000). The elegant, swelling form of this very rare vase, known as ganlanping, or 'olive-shaped vase', is beautifully complemented by the even, bright blue glaze. The form was admired in all three of the great imperial reigns of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) - Kangxi, Yongzheng, and Qianlong, but monochrome-glazed examples are especially rare. Other monochrome-glazed Yongzheng-period vases of this form include two in the Palace Museum, Beijing, one of which is covered in a copper-red glaze and the other in a crackled glaze in imitation of Guan ware.

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