Yesterday's Asian Sale total of nearly 7 million/ $9.5 million proves that, in an increasingly competitive market with quality objects becoming ever scarcer, it is still possible to make superb discoveries in Paris. Despite the inevitable return of Chinese works of art from Europe to their country of origin, France remains a niche venue where Asian buyers can still find market-fresh objects of peerless quality and with historic provenance.
As with Sotheby's
Paris sale last June, jades again caught the eye and yielded the highest price of the sale: 517,500 / $712,044 for an important Qianlong period (1736-95) celadon and russet jade Boulder (lot 100, est. 100,000-150,000*).
Less typically, the sale's second-highest price went to an archaic bronze: a rare Shang dynasty food vessel (12th century B.C.) formerly in a German private collection, that sold to a Chinese collector for 397,500 / $546,932 (lot 205, est. 50,000-70,000).
Other archaic bronzes, boosted by venerable provenance, also obtained strong results. A Jue wine vessel fetched 59,100 / $81,317 (lot 202, est. 6,000-8,000) and a nao ritual bell accompanied by two miniature ling bells (late Shang/early Western Zhou Dynasties) obtained 18,750 / $25,799 (lot 203, est. 10,000-15,000). Both lots hailed from the Collection of Willem van Heusden (1913-2009). Other items to be keenly contested included two vases that had been in the same Austrian collection for over thirty years: a 14th century Ming Yuhuchunping underglaze-red decorated vase, painted with the flowers of the four seasons, that sold to a leading Asian collector of Ming porcelain for 301,500 / 414,843 (lot 182, est. 80,000-120,000); and a rare 18th century Qing Meiping blue, white and copper-red porcelain vase, magnificently decorated with interlocking dragons, that sold to the
Asian trade for 157,500 / $216,709 (lot 183, est. 120,000-150,000).
Works from the Buddhist world were again in high demand. A 15th century gilt-bronze figure of the Buddha Shakyamuni flew to 127,500/$175,431 (lot 234, est. 25,000-35,000), while a gilt-bronze figure of Hevajra, bearing the Yongle mark (1402-24), soared to 373,500 / $513,910 (lot 220, est. 15,000-25,000).
A rare 15th/early 16th century Ming Dynasty thangka in the Yongle style prompted a lengthy bidding war between the room and telephone buyers before selling to an American private collector for 289,500 / $398,332 (lot 235, est. 60,000-80,000).
Objects consigned from French private collections included a superb cloisonné enamel incense-burner, kept in the same family since being acquired in China in the late 19th century, that claimed 115,500 / $158,920 against a come-hither estimate of 8,000-12,000 (lot 3); and a pair of Huanghuali armchairs bought in Paris in the 1960s, sold for 87,900 / $120,944 (lot 84, est. 20,000-30,000).
Finally, the recent enthusiasm for 20th century Chinese ink paintings, evident in Hong Kong this October, was confirmed in Paris as works from the Collection of Julius Eberhardt (1936-2012) brought a total 189,650 / $260,945. Of the collection's five paintings by Lu Shoukun (Lui Shuo Kwan), Lotus I Peinture Zen (1970) proved the most popular at 59,100 / $81,317 (lot 126, est. 30,000-50,000).
* estimates do not include buyers premium