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Bonhams exceptional offering showcases Japanese art for the international market
Totoya Hokkei (1780-1850), One surimono. Shikishiban; commissioned by the Shippo (Seven Treasures) Circle of poets, from the series Bun (Literature), entitled Bumbu niban (Literary and military arts, number two), mid 1820s, signed Go Hokkei, 8 3/8 x 7 1/8in (21.3 x 18.1cm). Sold for $11,070; Est. $1,500 - 2,000. Photo: Courtesy Bonhams.
NEW YORK, NY.- With strong results in a variety of categories, Bonhams recent September sale of Fine Japanese Works of Art demonstrated the increasing international interest in this dynamic field. Japanese bidders were well represented, but collectors and institutions in the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Hong Kong and Europe made an especially strong showing in the salesroom, on the telephones and online.

Bonhams exceptional offering of unusually well-preserved woodblock prints proved particularly appealing, with overall results significantly exceeding the original estimates. The impressive collection, dating from the mid-18th to mid-19th century, came from Dr. Herbert McLean Evans (1882-1971) and Dr. Miriam Elizabeth Simpson (1894-1991). The two noted academics maintained a close collaboration spanning over 50 years, during which time they meticulously collected and maintained important works on paper. The Japanese prints featured in the auction reflected the pair’s high standards, and bidders clearly appreciated their rarity. One such example, Totoya Hokkei’s One Surimono, soared above its original estimate of $1,500-$2,000 to sell for $11,070.

Meiji decorative objects also impressed bidders, with strong prices realized for cloisonné enamels, tachi swords, and inlaid bronzes. A pair of Atsuyoshi’s late 19th century inlaid bronze vases went for over 6 times their original high estimate of $3,500-$4,500, selling after competitive bidding for $27,500. Fully finished on all sides and featuring an enchanting diversity of flora and fauna realized in a variety of precious metals, the vases beautifully exemplify why Meiji period pieces are considered the zenith of Japanese craftsmanship.

Bonhams plans to continue the momentum with the highly anticipated Arts of the Samurai Sale, set for October 16th at the New York gallery located on Madison Avenue. The sale will feature armor, swords, and sword fittings dating from the 14th century through 21st century, including a 2006 sword made by Japanese national treasure Akimori.

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