Archaic bronze food vessel shatters estimate in $2.2 million Chinese & Himalayan Works of Art Auction

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Archaic bronze food vessel shatters estimate in $2.2 million Chinese & Himalayan Works of Art Auction
An Archaic Bronze Rectangular Food Vessel, Fangding. Price Realized: $487,500.

CHICAGO, IL.- The sale of an extremely rare archaic bronze food vessel in Hindman Auctions’ March 29th Chinese and Himalayan Works of Art auction capped off a successful three days of Asian Art sales. The auction achieved over $2.24 million, doubling its presale estimate. Also headlining the sale was property from the Estate of Hisazo Nagatani, an admired collector and connoisseur of Asian works art.

Stunning results were seen across all sales, beginning with Japanese and Korean Works of Art on March 25th, followed by Strong Diversions: Property from a Lifetime of Play on March 28th, and concluding with Chinese and Himalayan Works of Art on the 29th.

Chinese and Himalayan Works of Art | March 29

Long-Hidden Archaic Bronze Food Vessel

A Chinese archaic bronze ceremonial fangding vessel, called a Sanji fangding (lot 1216), was the star lot of the March 29th auction, selling for $487,500, doubling its presale estimate of $150,000-200,000. The vessel was once owned by renowned official and collector Liu Tizhi, and while the inscriptions on this vessel have been illustrated in many publications, this sale was the first time the piece had been seen in public in almost a century. The decoration, the casting and the form of this vessel suggests it is from the mid-Western Han Dynasty, and that it was once used by the San clan during ceremonies.

Estate of Hisazo Nagatani

Among the many notable collections included in the auction was property from beloved Chicago collector Hisazo Nagatani, which saw tremendous bidding activity. Nagatani’s international reputation grabbed the attention of bidders with lots such as a semi-translucent apple green jadeite tripod censer and cover (lot 1140) among several showstopping lots. This spectacular late 19th century/20th century censer and cover features mask-form legs and is flanked at the shoulders with wide-reaching animal-heads suspending loop handles. An early 20th century translucent greyish-celadon jadeite covered vase with a pair of handles each shaped as a mythical beast head (lot 1139) also saw great demand, selling for $81,250, ten times its presale estimate. An archaistic bronze wine jar and cover, fanglei, (lot 1221) was another highlight, selling for $40,625 against a presale estimate of $1,500-2,400.

Other standouts of the Nagatani estate included a carved yellow jade covered vase that sold for $37,500 (lot 1134) and a carved puddingstone figure of a seated lion (lot 1242) that sold for $20,000.

Strong Diversions: Property from a Lifetime of Play | March 28th

Property from The Strong National Museum of Play’s collection realized more than $821,600, doubling its expected estimate with extraordinary prices achieved for Chinese amber fish carvings, bronzes, porcelain figures and Japanese inro. Strong Diversions: Property from a Lifetime of Play spotlighted works from prominent collector and philanthropist Margaret Woodbury Strong, whose passion for learning and scholarship developed through her unique upbringing. Strong assembled one of the largest and most unique private collections in the 20th century, that formed the foundation of what would come to be known as The Strong National Museum of Play.

Strong’s mother, Alice Motley Woodbury, was an equally passionate collector of Chinese and Japanese objects d’art and buyers demonstrated particular enthusiasm for her large collection of yatate and sagemono.

Japanese and Korean Works of Art | March 25th

Silver bonbonniere in the March 25th Japanese & Korean Works of Art auction saw exceptional bidding activity, led by a fine Japanese silver rabbit-form bonbonniere (lot 20) which surpassed its presale estimate of $1,000-2,000 to realize $8,125. This rabbit was made as a souvenir for the marriage of Princess Nagako of Kuni no Miya, known as the Empress Kojun. Another highlight from the group was a lot of two Japanese silver helmet-form bonbonniere (lot 8) which sold for $4,063.

A selection of Japanese ikebana bamboo flower arranging baskets (lot 126) were highly sought-after. The top lot of the group was by Kajiwara Aya, a renowned bamboo artist who was one of the first female bamboo artists accepted as a full member of the Japan Craft Arts Association. The basket sold for $5,625, more than double its presale estimate.

Other sale standouts were a late 19th century / early 20th century mixed-metal charger depicting a smiling fishmonger and scholar, surrounded by roundels showing auspicious animal and insect figures (lot 32), which sold for $16,250, well above its presale estimate of $1,000-2,000. Highlights also included ink and color paintings such as Kawase Hasui’s 1920 colored woodblock print Densensui no zenkei (Panoramic View of Daisensui Pond) from the set Mitsubishi Fukagawa bettei (Pictures of Mitsubishi Fukagawa Villa) (lot 56), which sold for $8,750 against an estimate of $2,000-3,000.

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