Almost 400 works of art from China, Tibet, Nepal and Japan will be offered in the Sotheby's
Asian Art Sale in Paris on June 10th 2014. Many of the pieces come from private European collections and have never been offered on the market before. They comprise fine Chinese ceramics, jades and scholar's objects as well as Tibetan and Nepalese religious paintings and sculpture, and Japanese lacquerwork.
Former collection of the Red Baron
Asian works of art formerly in the collection of Baron Antoine Allard (1907 - 1981). The sale is led by a selection of objects formerly in the collection of Baron Antoine Allard, heir to a financial empire, great traveller and co-founder of Oxfam Belgium. He was renowned for his philanthropic activities and dedicated efforts on behalf of world peace, with his political commitment earning him the nickname The Red Baron. A keen collector of art and traveller, Antoine Allard fell in love with China on his numerous travels to Asia. It is on a trip to China in 1961, as a member of the entourage of Queen Elisabeth of Belgium, that he acquired a rare Imperial jade musical chime dating to the Qianlong Period (1736-95), one of the highlights of the sale (est. 180,000-220,000 / $250,000-306,000). Originally the stone was part of a set of 16 jade musical stones that were used in rituals and ceremonies at the Qing court. Suspended from a wooden frame, their tones varied according to their size and thickness. Few such large jade musical chimes are known in private collections and a complete set is in the Palace Museum in Beijing.
Treasures of the Buddhist World
Among the selection of Buddhist art is a fine and rare large gilt-bronze figure of Buddha (est. 200,000-300,000 / $270,000-417,000). Made in Tibet in the late 14th or early 15th century it is exceptional for it considerable size and weight. Seated in meditation, his right hand points towards the ground, a gesture that evokes a specific episode from his life when he was attacked when in meditation and repelled his attackers with a single glance. He then touched the ground to show his unshakable determination to stay where he was. The gilt-bronze figure was brought back from China by a French military doctor in the 1920s and has remained in the family since.
The sale also features a fine selection of scholar's objects made in various materials. Among the highlighs is a rare Imperial washer finely carved of orange-hued agate (est. 20,000-30,000 / $27,800-41,700). Carved in the shape of an auspicious lingzhi mushroom nestled among gnarled branches it is incised with the seal mark of the Qianlong emperor on the base suggesting that this piece was in the personal collection of the Qianlong emperor. It was collected by the Marshal Berthier, Prince of Wagram, a close ally and advisor to Napoleon, and was passed down in the family.
Among the many jade pieces in the Sothebys Asian Art sale is an exquisite white jade teapot carved in the form of a phoenix (est. 20,000-30,000 /$27,247-40,871). Rare for the pureness and even white colour of the stone it was collected by a senior civil servant posted in Indochina in the 1920s. Another highlight is a finely carved and reticulated jade plaque set into a gilt-metal tiered box chased with a delicate design of meandering lotus scrolls (est. 10,000-15,000 /$13,623-20,435). Brought back from China in the late 19th century, it was made under the Qianlong emperor who was known to be passionate about ancient jades and as well as precious playthings and containers such as this box.
Also dating to the reign of the Qianlong emperor or slightly after is a superb pair of zitan-veneer screens each featuring four panels embellished with hardstones each depicting flowers of the four seasons (est. 50,000-70,000 / $69,500-97,500). Poems composed by the Qianlong emperor complete each panel praising the individual flowers and seasons. The screens were acquired in Hong Kong in 1955 by Henri Crombé, a Belgian banker, and have remained in the family since.