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Vanderven Oriental Art bring rare and unusual works from private collections to Asian Art in London
Five Claw Dragon Bowl, China, Kangxi Period (1662-1722) Height: 6,5 cm, Diameter: 13,2 cm. From a private Dutch collection.

LONDON.- Vanderven Oriental Art, one of the world’s leading international dealers in the field of Chinese export porcelain and early terracotta, will bring a selection of rare works, all from private European collections, to this year’s Asian Art Week. The exhibition, held at Shapero Rare Books, runs from 4 – 7 November 2013 and offers collectors the opportunity to purchase some of the freshest and highest quality pieces of oriental art available on the market in recent years.

The highlight of the show is a remarkable Chinese Carved Turquoise Boulder from the 18th century. Held in a private Dutch collection since the 1980s, this rare type of stone would have adorned the classic Chinese scholar’s desk, used for contemplation. The work, published in the book Chinese Art Part III by R Soame Jenyns & W. Watson in 1980, depicts what is probably an allusion to the theme of the Nine Elders by the famous Tang Poet Bo Juyi (772-846), a celebration of longevity and wisdom. The boulder has been carved as a rocky mountain scene with pine trees, two sages and an attendant climbing up a mountain path. The maker has used the natural inclusions and veining in the stones to maximum effect for the overall carving.

Acquired from a private Dutch collection, a fascinating Kangxi Five Claw Dragon Bowl depicts two five-claw dragons running along the outside amongst flaming pearls and clouds. On close inspection, each dragon curiously has one claw coloured in with black enamel. Chinese tradition dictates that only porcelain produced in imperial kilns have dragons with five claws, and those produced in civilian kilns have four. Therefore, one theory is that the porcelain was altered this way so it could be removed from the imperial palaces. Or that it was no longer considered destined for the use of the emperor. A saucer with a similar decoration and enamelling and with the fifth claw removed can be found in the Bauer collection (Geneva) and a smaller dish is in the collection of Museé Guimet (Paris).

Another highlight is a boxwood Ruyi scepter in the form of a Ligzhi fungus, acquired from a private Japanese collection. Ruyi translates as “according to your wishes” and is a well-known object in Chinese culture. It is believed to bring luck and prosperity, as well a being a symbol of power. A traditional Ruyi has a long S-shaped handle and a palm-shaped head fashioned like a fist or cloud, however this rare example is in the shape on the Lingzui fungus, a sacred fungus of immortality, which is also a rare and powerful ingredient used in traditional Chinese medicine worth four times its weight in silver.

The exhibition includes other exceptional pieces of Kangxi porcelain, a particular passion and speciality of gallery owner, Floris van der Ven, including a Dragon Jar. This large blue and white jar and cover decorated with dragons from circa 1690, is a rare example of very early Kanqxi period porcelain, and has previously been held in a private Dutch collection. The dragon is the symbol of very high rank and power; it is shown not only on imperial porcelain, but also on the Emperor’s robes, furniture, lacquer, glassware and bronzes.

Vanderven Oriental Art has organised an exclusive book signing to coincide with their London exhibition by author and porcelain specialist Eva Ströber for her newest publication Ming Porcelain. The book signing is taking place on Monday 4 November 2013 from 4-8pm and the book will be available for purchase at the gallery.

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