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From Medieval to Modern: Christie's Fall Sale of Japanese & Korean Art in September
Soga Monogatari (The Tale of the Soga Brothers), Edo period, early 18th century. Estimate: $100,000-150,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2012.

NEW YORK, NY.- Christie’s announced the Fall sale of Japanese and Korean Art, taking place September 11. Featuring over 200 lots with works of art spanning medium and category, the sale offers a fantastic selection for collectors of all interests, from medieval books to paintings by modern masters. A spectacular fusuma (set of interior sliding doors) by Hasegawa Tonin will highlight the Japanese portion of the sale, while the Korean session boasts an exquisite and monumental porcelain dragon jar.

Hasegawa Tonin’s Egrets and Ducks in a Winter Landscape is a fusuma (set of interior sliding doors) mounted as three two-panel screens, which were once part of a continuous panorama of birds surrounding a large auditorium (estimate: $250,000-300,000). The doors were originally installed in Akashi Castle, in southern Hyogo Prefecture, which was built circa 1618 by Ogasawara Tadazane, founder of the Kokura clan, and was later demolished in 1874, leaving only ruins around the two remaining turrets. The screens were rescued in 1628 when the castle was on fire and are incredibly significant, as they demonstrate the evolution of the Hasegawa School, founded by Hasegawa Tohaku in the 16th century. Egrets and Ducks in a Winter Landscape was painted in a gorgeous color and gold, a style embraced by the Hasegawa School. The remaining sets from Akashi Castle are currently at the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington DC.

Also among the sale highlights is an early 18th century edition of Soga Monogatari (The Tale of the Soga Brothers), a medieval prose narrative in ten books (estimate: $100,000-150,000). Based on true events in 1193, Soga Monogatari chronicles the journey of two brothers avenging their father’s wrongful death. The event remained a favorite subject in samurai circles for generations and was eventually immortalized in writing, enduring as one of the most popular Japanese tales of revenge. The story was later adapted in the Edo period to Noh, joruri and kabuki, and pictorialized on folding screens and in illustrated books and warrior and actor prints. The beautifully detailed version offered in the sale includes illustrations in ink, color, and gold within blue-painted cloud borders embellished with cut-gold leaf.

An impressive pair of bronze and mixed-metal vases, which represent the seasons of Spring and Autumn, were executed by two metal artists in the Meiji period (estimate: $70,000-90,000). The Spring vase depicts a pair of pheasants perched upon a cherry tree, surrounded by roses, while the Autumn vase has them resting on a maple tree, with chrysanthemums nearby. The Autumn vase was completed by renowned artist Kagawa Katsuhiro in 1885, the same year that he contributed work to the international exposition in Nuremberg.

From a private collection, Park Sookeun’s Tree and Three Figures, 1962 is among the modern highlights of the Korean section (estimate: $600,000-800,000). In the artist’s original frame, the painting depicts two women in a young girl in traditional Korean clothing walking to the market. While the subject matter is characteristic of the artist, as he often produced genre scenes, the scale of the work is remarkably large compared to the majority of his pieces, which are modestly sized. While his body of work is rather small, consisting of no more than four hundred pieces, Park Sookeun has become the most sought-after modern Korean artist, since Christie’s began selling his artwork eighteen years ago.

An important monumental blue and white porcelain dragon jar of the 18th century Joseon dynasty was painted in a cobalt blue underglaze and was almost certainly commissioned by the royal courts (estimate on request). This magnificent vessel depicts two striding dragons chasing a flaming pearl; developed in China, but adapted by Koreans, the juxtaposition of these two figures has come to represent the pursuit of knowledge. By the 15th century, the dragon, particularly the five clawed dragon (as is portrayed here), had come to represent the emperor in China and the king in Korea. The central purpose of the jar was not for the display of cut flowers or branches, but rather for the elegant storage of wine and other liquids. The bold form, vibrant brushwork, and silvery hued cobalt clue in light and dark tones make this an exceptional 18th century dragon jar. Standing nearly two feet tall, its immense size pushes it to a virtual one-of-a-kind category.

A 19th century blue and white porcelain jar with the Ten Signs of Long Life (Shipjangsaeng) will also be featured in the sale (estimate: $65,000-70,000). This 16 inch tall jar employs auspicious symbolism from the Daoist immortality cult that developed in China during the Han dynasty and later became extremely popular in Korea under the Joseon dynasty.

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