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Tokyo Chuo Auction to present exceptional Chinese works of art in September sale

A hexagonal brushpot from the Qianlong period. Estimate: JPY10,000,000-15,000,000.

TOKYO.- Tokyo Chuo Auction will hold its Autumn sales series from 4-6 September 2014 at Tokyo Dome Hotel, presenting to discerning collectors a variety of rare and important Chinese works of art from different periods with excellent provenance, as well as jewels and watches. Highlights of the three-day auctions include Ancient Bronze Works of Art; Important Chinese Bronze Wares; Chinese Fine Arts Evening Sale; Modern Chinese Paintings; Classical Chinese Paintings; Rare Books, Rubbings & Manuscripts; Fine Tea Ceremony Sets; Scholar's Objects and Fine Chinese Works of Art.

Fine Chinese Works of Art
This sale will feature exquisite jade wares and rare porcelains symbolising the Qing court’s power and wealth. The star lot is an underglaze-blue-decorated yellow-ground Zun with two ears and Kui patterns from the Qianlong period (Estimate: JPY15,000,000-25,000,000, Lot 1972). The vessel is masterfully decorated with underglaze-blue Kui patterns representing imperial supremacy. Its base is incised and gilt with a six-character mark showing that it was made in the Qianlong era. The bright lemon-yellow ground and the deep, gemstone-like blue patterns form not only a dramatic contrast but also complement each other.

Chinese Fine Arts Evening Sale
This section will feature rare Chinese antiques collected in Japan showcasing classical Chinese aesthetics. Taking center-stage is a hexagonal brush pot from the Qianlong period (Estimate: JPY10,000,000-15,000,000, Lot 420). Formerly in the Qing court’s collection, this elegant brushpot features six flat vertical faces, each incised and gilt with a poem lauding floral beauty written by the Emperor Qianlong. While its rim is gilt in golden paint, its base is incised and gilt with a six-character mark showing that it was made in the Qianlong era. The six poems on its sides were written by Qianlong when he was still a young prince. All lauding the beauty of floral blossom, the poems teem with life and freshness.

Another important lot is Along the River during the Qingming Festival attributed to Qiuying (circa 1495-1552) and with a colophon by Wen Zhengming (1470-1559) (Estimate: JPY8,000,000-10,000,000, Lot 409). The scroll vividly captures the prosperous scenes of the Jiangnan region during the Qingming festival. From a bird's-eye view, it coherently offers viewers a panorama of life from the countryside to the city. The sophisticated composition, bright colours, detailed and mature brushwork are captivating. This superb work vividly visualises different walks of life, trade and activity in the silent wilderness, along the majestic river and behind the high city walls.

The sale will also present a magnificent Sancai-glazed pottery figure of a horse from the Tang Dynasty (Estimate: JPY5,000,000-8,000,000, Lot 410). The strikingly beautiful white horse with hogged mane glazed in rich cinnamon and a colourful saddle was formerly in the collection of a British collector before 1945. While Tang dynasty sancai-glazed horses are highly treasured sancai ceramics, white-glazed horses are particularly rare. Masterfully glazed in rich colours, the beautifully proportioned horse imparts a distinctive grace and liveliness.

Another lifelike horse, elegantly glazed in the intermingled colours of white, green and brown, is also a masterpiece of sancai pottery, fully expressing the animal’s beauty and essence (Estimate: JPY8,000,000-12,000,000, Lot 411).

Stealing Oil by Qi Baishi (1863-1957) (Estimate: JPY10,000,000-15,000,000, Lot 403) portrays a pair of mice under a burning candle, with one of them stealing peanuts. The artist expresses the colours and texture of the mice brilliantly by using ink with simple yet vivid brushstrokes. On the box storing the painting the name “Tano” is marked which indicates that the work was likely once collected by Kamada Katsutaro (1864-1942). The eldest son of a tycoon in the Japanese salt industry, Katsutaro later built his own salt-producing company and became a member of the country’s House of Peers.

Modern Chinese Paintings
Works by Wu Changshuo (1844-1927) have long been coveted by Japanese collectors. The master has been acclaimed by some Japanese scholars as “the last man of letters”. To commemorate the 170th anniversary of his birthday, Tokyo Chuo Auction held an exhibition featuring an array of his masterpieces in Hong Kong in May. This year is also the 150th anniversary of the birthday of another important artist, Qi Baishi. In celebration, the Modern Chinese Paintings Sale will present a series of representative works by the two artists in addition to the distinguished pieces by other important modern Chinese painters.

In Gourds, Wu Changshuo portrays a cluster of gourds attached to twisting vines climbing on an arbour with subtle strength (Estimate: JPY6,000,000-8,000,000, Lot 523). Brilliantly placed and coloured in different hues, the fruits, despite their sizes and degree of ripening, all seemingly compete with each other to gain attraction among layers of interwoven leaves. A wonderful expression of nature’s liveliness, the painting was naturally treasured by Kitaōji Rosanjin (1883-1959), who inscribed on its box to show his admiration.

Another important piece by Wu Changshuo is Narcissus (Estimate: JPY4,500,000-6,500,000, Lot 520), which was formerly in the collection of Egami Keizan. Born in the city of Nagasaki in 1862, Egami was a celebrated painter of the Nagasaki school during the Meiji era. During his visit to China, he befriended numerous prominent artists, including Wu.

Classical Chinese Paintings
In Peonies , Chen Chun (1483-1544) employs the Mogu method to paint the subject matter with brisk and balanced brushwork (Estimate: JPY 8,000,000-10,000,000, Lot 790). While the four peonies are elegantly coloured and cleverly positioned, their leaves, especially the veins, are rendered with free and seemingly casual brushstrokes, which make the overall painting even livelier and more expressive. This fine piece was examined and collected by a lot of celebrated collectors, including Luo Zhenyu in the late Qing dynasty. According to correspondence between Luo and Wang Guowei, during Luo’s early years in Japan, he sold quite many artworks assembled in late Qing and early Republican China to pay for his living expenses. As the painting bears Luo’s title piece, it is possible that it was brought by him to Japan.

Fine Tea Ceremony Sets
In a classic tea room, tools such as iron and silver pots, porcelain cups and tea bowls are formed in different combinations depending on the nature of events and occasions. Fine antiques are also usually placed in the room as their presence is closely related to the enhancement of the participants’ sense of vision and smell. Apart from featuring exquisite tea ceremony sets, the sale will also present an array of agarwood logs and chips of exceptional quality, which will definitely impress connoisseurs of the art of Japanese tea ceremony.

The centrepiece is the ornate Uji silver teapot by the celebrated craftsman Kawamura Yasaburou (Estimate: JPY2,800,000-3,600,000, Lot 1278). Made of pure silver, the teapot features a shiny yet subtle surface embedded with finely crafted patterns and decorations in gold, silver, copper and black gold, which constitute a coherent scroll of landscape displayed on both sides of the pot. While one side shows a fisherman appreciating the beauty of a temple amongst the mountains of Uji, another side features the famous Uji Bridge with water gently flowing underneath. A respected master, Kawamura was dedicated to forging silver tea-making tools and only accepted orders from contemporary tea masters to create tools specifically for them. Every quality piece of his is original and unique in themes.

Scholar's Objects
This sale will present a number of fine scholar’s objects, celebrated inkstones formerly collected by an important family in the textile industry in the Kansai region, as well as exquisite seal stones and table screens.

Tianhuangdong stones, which are high-quality Tianhuang stones, are extremely rare on the market. This translucent Tianhuangdong seal s tone (Estimate: JPY2,000,000-3,000,000, Lot 1588), whose colours are as bright as loquats’, resembles a piece of ancient jade, smooth and elegant. Its top is carved with a ganoderma-biting dragon cavorting from the rolling waves around, exuding a sense of motion and liveliness.

Chuo Jewels & Watches
Of particular interest in this sale are exquisite diamond pieces designed by the celebrated Japanese designer Kawada Norio. Also included is a special selection of fine watches.

Important Chinese Bronze Wares
Tokyo Chuo Auction will hold for the first time a sale solely dedicated to Chinese bronze wares, bringing together nine ancient vessels representing not only imperial and orthodox aesthetics, but also the aesthetical pursuit of Japanese tea masters. All the vessels were amassed by distinguished antique dealers and brought to Japan during the Taisho era.

Rare Books, Rubbings & Manuscripts
Tokyo Chuo Auction will also present its first single sale of rare books, rubbings and manuscripts. Highlights include Tibetan Buddhist scriptures in the former collection of Hayashibara; Buddhist scriptures formerly collected by Kuriyama; collotype catalogues of Chinese works of art as well as printed albums of Wu Changshuo’s paintings and calligraphy.

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