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Bonhams New York presents Chinese art from the Scholar's Studio
A reverse painted mirror. Late 18th century. Painted to the reverse with opaque pigments and touches of gold, the sky unpainted revealing the silvery mirror, in a gilt wood frame. 17 9/16 x 30 1/8in (44.6 x 76.5cm). US$30,000-40,000. Photo: Courtesy of Bonhams.
NEW YORK, NY.- Bonhams will present Chinese Art from the Scholar’s Studio on March 17 at the Madison Avenue saleroom as part of Asia Week New York. Following the success of Bonhams September 2013 Chinese sale of the same theme, which more than doubled its pre-sale estimate, the March 17 auction will feature a strong selection of snuff bottles, works of art and a carefully curated group of traditional Chinese paintings. Several collections with longstanding provenance will be offered, with the ownership of some pieces traceable to the early 19th century.

Many of the snuff bottles offered were originally in the collection of Emmanuel Gran (1894-1969), a Russian-born architect who collected actively in Shanghai and Hong Kong prior to 1941. Highlights include a number of fine jade bottles attributed to the imperial workshops, a deeply cut red glass overlay bottle (est. $8,000-12,000) and a fine inscribed agate snuff bottle with a four-character Qianlong mark from the period (est. $8,000-10,000).

Provenance is increasingly important to connoisseurs, and the March Chinese sale will feature works formerly in the collection of John R. Peters Jr., an engineer who traveled to China with the Caleb Cushing embassy in 1844, and returned to the United States to open a Chinese museum. In addition, several objects will be offered from the collection of Major William Randall McDonnell Parr (1865-1938), who was a pivotal figure in the 1903-4 Younghusband expedition to Tibet. Buyers with an interest in history will gravitate towards the medals of recognition presented to Parr by the Chinese government.

Nicholas Rice, Bonhams Junior Specialist for Chinese Art noted, "A particular highlight of the Peters Collection is a set of 11 early 19th century gouache paintings depicting porcelain production, a subject which would have been of special interest to contemporary Western collectors of Chinese art".

The sale will conclude with a strong selection of traditional Chinese paintings. Together with a number of hanging scrolls and album leaves that date back several centuries, an important informal portrait of the Daoguang Emperor (reigned 1821-1850) depicts the erudite ruler seated at a table, an open book in front of him, in a setting befitting the sale’s theme (est. $50,000-70,000). Several important 20th century paintings by highly desired artists will be offered, including Shi Lu (1919-1982) Burmese Woman and Child (est. $100,000-150,000), Liu Guosong (born 1924) Which is Earth, no. 96 (est. $50,000-70,000) , and Zhang Daqian (1899-1983) Self Portrait, The Return of My Sight (est. $150,000-220,000), dedicated to the artist’s ophthalmologist following successful eye surgery.

In addition to the works created with a traditional Chinese aesthetic, several fine paintings created for the 19th century China trade are certain to attract attention. Alongside a series of gouaches depicting porcelain production from the Peter’s collection (est. $25,000-40,000), the sale will also include 19th century oils, works on pith paper, and an exquisite late 18th century reverse painted mirror (est. $30,000-40,000).

“I am pleased to have a wide range of paintings created in China for the export market in this sale,” commented Bruce MacLaren, Bonhams Senior Specialist for Chinese Art. “It is important to see these works as part of the conversation when we discuss the history of painting in China.”

Bonhams will present Chinese Art from the Scholar’s Studio on March 17 in New York. The sale will preview March 14-17 at Bonhams New York.

Highlights from the sale will preview February 14-16 at Bonhams Paris office and February 19-21 at Bonhams New Bond Street in London.

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