Rivertown presents Asian art in auction featuring rarities from ancient dynasties through 20th century

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Rivertown presents Asian art in auction featuring rarities from ancient dynasties through 20th century
Pair of Qing Dynasty gilt bronze figures of Vajrapani, 10 x 6½ x 3¼ in. Provenance: Robert Edwards (1883-1979) and his wife Gloria (1886-1960), thence by descent. Offered with no reserve. Estimate $200-$400.

HOUSTON, TX.- Rivertown Antiques & Estate Services, one of the world’s most trusted sources of Asian fine and decorative art, will present a 230-lot auction on Saturday, May 29 featuring rarities that date from the Shang Dynasty (2nd millennium BC) through the 20th century. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

The carefully curated connoisseur’s selection includes long-held estate and family items from the United States, Great Britain and Continental Europe. Sources include the Marshall Coyne collection, the estate of Robert Edwards, the Robin George collection, property from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Johnson, and property from the Charles George collection.

No reserve will apply to any of the lots. Rivertown spokesperson Rafael Leite explained: “We are absolutely confident that the artworks and antiques chosen for this sale, which are of utmost quality and impeccable provenance, will attract the market prices they deserve. We’re very proud of the artworks in this sale, which took our expert appraiser many months to authenticate and catalog.”

A large and exceptional 14th-century gilt bronze figure of Buddha measuring 20 by 15¼ by 12 inches has been in private hands for approximately 120 years. In the late 1800s, the consignor’s relative, an Australian-trained attorney by the name of Robin George, relocated to the UK, where he became a British Army officer. He served in China around the time of the Boxer Rebellion (1899-1901). While posted there, George bought the Buddha figure, and other art objects, which he eventually took with him to India, and later, Great Britain. In the 1940s, the figure was inherited by the consignor. It has not appeared publicly since George’s purchase around 1900 and can be seen in a 1930s photograph of George's residence. The auction estimate is $200-$400.

Acquired around the same time, a pair of elegantly inscribed silver and gilt bronze figures of Arhats date to the 15th-century. Each measures 15½ by 7 by 5¼ inches, and together they are estimated $200-$400.

Twenty-six highly important items come with provenance from Robert Edwards (1883-1979) and his wife, Gloria (1886-1960). Robert arrived in Shanghai in 1910 to work for the multinational business and industry conglomerate Jardine, Matheson & Co. According to family history, it was Gloria who initially had a special interest in Chinese antiques. The couple remained in China until 1938 or ’39, at which point they returned to their native UK. A picture of the Edwards residence shows part of their collection as it was in the 1960s. Among the highlights are a 15th-century Ming Dynasty gilt bronze figure of Buddha, a large (22-inch) Yuan Dynasty gilt bronze figure of Buddha, and a pair of Qing Dynasty gilt bronze figures of Vajrapani. Each of the three lots is entered with a $200-$400 estimate.

A substantial selection of Chinese rarities can be traced back to the noted Washington, DC insider and property developer Marshall Coyne (1911-2000), whose luxurious Madison hotel played host to presidents, prime ministers, business moguls and celebrities, including Frank Sinatra and William Randolph Hearst Jr. Notably, Coyne traveled to China in 1971 with President Nixon during the diplomatic mission that revived relations between the United States and the People’s Republic.

Many of Coyne’s Asian treasures were featured in a high-profile 1967 China House Gallery (NY) exhibition of Chinese art from private and museum collections. Among those exhibited pieces to be auctioned on May 29 are a Dragon vase with Kangxi mark and period; Song Dynasty Geyao tripod dish; Song Dynasty Junyao purple-splashed foliate dish, and a Famille Rose moon flask with Qianlong mark and period. Each is estimated at $200-$400.

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