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Magnificently carved Dingyao basin, unseen for over 40 years, expected to fetch in excess of US$7.7 million
The Clark Ding Basin”. A Magnificently Carved Dingyao Basin. Northern Song Dynasty, 22 cm. Expected to fetch in excess of HK$60 million / US$7.7 million. Photo: Sotheby's.

HONG KONG.- Sotheby’s Hong Kong Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Spring Sales 2014 will take place on 8 April at Hall 5, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The sales will offer an eclectic selection of important porcelains, gilt bronzes, scholarly objects and elegant furniture from celebrated private collections, led by The Clark Ding Basin, a Magnificently Carved Dingyao Basin, Northern Song dynasty, from the collection of legendary antique dealer Sakamoto Goro, which has not been seen for over 40 years and is expected to fetch in excess of HK$60 million / US$7.7 million*. Other highlights include a small selection of exceptional gilt-bronze Buddhist figures and animals from the Song, Ming and Qing dynasties from the esteemed Speelman Collection, later bronzes from the illustrious Water, Pine and Stone Retreat Collection, rare Chinese furniture from the famous Hung Collection, Chinese lacquer from the Baoyizhai Collection as well as important ceramics from the Ming and Qing dynasties and works of art including gilt-bronze Buddhist sculptures and jades. Altogether, the Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Spring Sales will offer over 280 lots, with a total estimate of over HK$750 million / US$97 million.

Nicolas Chow, Sotheby’s Asia Deputy Chairman and International Head of Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, said, “The Clark dingyao basin undoubtedly ranks among the very finest Song wares ever to come to the market and is perhaps the finest piece extant from this celebrated kiln. Sakamoto Goro, the legendary Japanese dealer, purchased it at Sotheby’s in London in 1971 and has cherished it for the last 40 some years. It is an extraordinary privilege for Sotheby's to handle again the sale of this Song dynasty masterpiece.”

Auction Highlights:
Chinese Art Through the Eye of Sakamoto Goro – The Clark Ding

Following the success last October of the Sakamoto Goro collection, Sotheby’s Hong Kong is delighted to present another gem, namely The Clark Ding Basin, from the famed collection of the legendary antique dealer. Sakamoto’s career as an antiques dealer, collector and connoisseur has spanned almost 70 years. His prized purchases can now be found in renowned institutions including the Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo’s Hatakeyama Memorial Museum of Fine Art and the British Museum. Having recently celebrated his 90th birthday, he continues to search for objects of great beauty.

“The Clark Ding Basin”. A Magnificently Carved Dingyao Basin. Northern Song Dynasty, 22 cm. Expected to fetch in excess of HK$60 million / US$7.7 million
Ding is and always was one of the most admired ceramic wares of China. This large flower-shaped bowl is unique and represents this ware at its best. Combining exquisite material with fine potting and pleasing proportions, it is freely carved with a spirited design. The tactile ivory-tinged glaze, with its characteristic “tears” of a deeper tone, preserves its attractive original lustre. Comparable pieces are outstandingly rare and hardly left in private collections. The bowl was in the fabled collection of Alfred and Ivy Clark already in 1949, and featured in many important exhibitions, but has not been publicly shown since 1971, when it was sold at Sotheby’s London.

Gods and Beasts – Gilt Bronzes from the Speelman Collection
Sotheby’s will offer gilt-bronzes from the esteemed Speelman Collection. This sale features a small selection of ten exceptional gilt-bronze Buddhist figures and animals from the Song, Ming and Qing dynasties, which demonstrate the versatility and quasi-magical properties of the medium. Most of the pieces bear imperial marks and some are dated, which are excessively rare.

An Extremely Rare and Important Massive Gilt-Bronze Figure of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. Song Dynasty, 61 cm. Est. HK$30 – 40 million / US$3.8 – 5.1 million
The richly gilt large Song-dynasty figure of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara draws from a thousand-year-old tradition of Buddhist bronze figures. The present sculpture represents a phase of overwhelming stylistic variety between Tang and Ming (1368-1644) dynasties, before the classic image for Buddhist gilt bronzes came into existence in the Yongle period (1403-24) of the Ming dynasty. It comes from a period when the Guanyin image had not yet turned sweet and feminine, and the feminine basic facial features were counterbalanced by indications of a masculine beard and moustache. This way of representing Avalokitesvara is characteristic of Tang painting executed at Dunhuang in Gansu province. Only one comparable example is known from the collection of Avery Brundage in the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

A large Yongle gilt-bronze figure of Shakyamuni Buddha from the Speelman Collection set the world auction record for any Chinese works of art when it was sold for HK$116.6 million / US$15.04 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in back 2006, which was only surpassed by another Yongle gilt-bronze figure of Shakyamuni Buddha in October 2013 at HK$236.44 million /US$30.3 million.

Water, Pine and Stone Retreat Collection: Later Bronzes
The sixth sale of the illustrious Water, Pine and Stone Retreat Collection features a collection of later bronzes including censers, figures and scholarly objects. A Parcel-Gilt Tripod Censer with Boys. Mark and Period of Hongwu. Width across handles 21.2 cm. Est. HK$3.5 – 4.5 million / US$450,000 – 580,000

The Hongwu Emperor, who rose to power in 1368 from humble peasant origins, was fastidious in his adherence to ritual and ancient customs and a firm believer of the Daoist religion. Early records of his reign reveal thoughtful attention to the observance of religious rites, all of which involved the burning of incense. Decorated with lively figures of youths standing on clouds, which identify them as deities, alongside cranes, Daoist mystical symbols of longevity and vehicles or messengers for various deities, the Hongwu-marked censer reflects the emperor’s beliefs. No marked example of comparable form and decoration has been recorded.

The Hung Collection – A Selection of Chinese Furniture
Widely published exhibited, the Hung Collection is one of the most famous Chinese furniture collections to ever come on the market. This selection of 15 of their over 200-piece collection features huanghuali and zitan tables, chairs and cabinets. Many of the pieces are extremely rare, including this huanghuali table with a very unusual open fret-work on the apron.

A Huanghuali Rectangular Table. Ming Dynasty, 17th Century, 80.6 by 121.3 by 60.9 cm. Est. HK$4 – 6 million / US$510,000 – 770,000

Chinese Lacquer from the Baoyizhai Collection, Part I

As ritual bronzes fell out of vogue in the late Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770-256 BC), lacquerwares began to take their place as one the most coveted luxury items one could own. Since that time, lacquer has continued to hold its place among highly esteemed collected objects like ceramics and jades. Hailed as one of the world’s top Chinese lacquer collectors, Dr. Hu Shih-chang (1924- 2006) assembled a comprehensive collection of some of the finest lacquer pieces. His collection, including pieces from the Warring States period (475-221 BC) all the way through to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), has been widely published and exhibited. The sale includes 33 pieces from this renowned collection.

Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art
The Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale will feature important ceramics from the Ming and Qing dynasties, as well as works of art including gilt-bronze Buddhist sculptures and jades.

A Fine and Rare Blue and White “Fruit” Meiping. Ming Dynasty, Yongle Period. Formerly in a Japanese Collection, 28 cm. Est. HK$20 – 30 million / US$2.6 – 3.8 million
Meiping vases, in the Yongle period perhaps still used as wine jars, were made in various sizes and were equally popular in China and abroad. This vase represents one of the classic patterns of the Yongle period that illustrates the phenomenal advances made by Jingdezhen’s potters and painters. It is remarkable for its particularly fine potting and its smooth and tactile glaze, and beautifully displays the characteristic “heaping and piling” of the cobalt-blue painting – a much-copied trademark of imperial blue-and-white from the early Ming dynasty. Both in terms of its well-proportioned shape and its lush fruit pattern represented here by peaches and pomegranates, one of the most popular motifs of early Ming (1368-1644) blue-and-white, this design set a standard of excellence that would be emulated for centuries to come.

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