Remarkable Kangxi ceramics offered at Bonhams Skinners Asian Works of Art auction
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Remarkable Kangxi ceramics offered at Bonhams Skinners Asian Works of Art auction
Celadon-glazed "Dragon" Flask Vase. Estimate: $20,000-30,000.

MARLBOROUGH, MASS.- Bonhams Skinner announced two upcoming auctions of Asian Art this September. Comprising over 300 lots in total, the sales are noteworthy for their curated selection of Chinese porcelains, including a remarkable range of Kangxi ceramics representing the Qing dynasty’s sublime aesthetic. A live sale, focused on the scholarly tastes that emerged during the Kangxi period, will take place September 14 in Bonhams Skinner’s Marlborough galleries, accompanied by an online auction from September 5-15.

Bonhams Skinner’s live auction represents a remarkably detailed showcase of the Kangxi aesthetic, offering over 70 lots which have been carefully selected from private collections—including those of renowned aficionados David Drabkin and Dr. Frederick Whiting. The Kangxi Emperor’s (r. 1661-1722) esteem for poetry and painting played an influential role in shaping the official styles of the Qing dynasty, and led to improvements on previous eras’ technical innovations to present a new benchmark in ceramic design. Notable for their unique glazings and complex multi-toned hues, these exquisite ceramics were transported to Beijing for painting by artists of the imperial court before being brought back to Jingdezhen for glazing and firing.

Exemplary of the “High Qing” ceramic ideals are a celadon-glazed “Dragon” flask vase (Lot 7, est. $20000-30000), a blue and white “Dragon” sleeve vase (Lot 2, est. $1200-1800 ), a near pair of powder blue-glazed bottle vases (Lot 1, est. $8000-12000), and a blue and white “Landscape” vase (Lot 15, est. $3000-5000) in classical blue-and-white porcelain. A peachbloom-glazed "Three-string" vase (Lot 25, est. $3000-5000), three pairs of miniature apple green crackle-glazed vases (Lot 58, est. $400-600) and a small water pot in powder-blue (Lot 49, est. $500-700) superlatively showcase the period’s unique glazes and delicate color palette. Additionally, a pair of Famille Verte wine cups (Lot 5, est. $3000-5000) also Qing, display exceptionally vivid glazes and liveliness of expression.

The live sale’s showcase of Kangxi ceramics will be accompanied by a group of scholarly items that highlight the literati taste of the era helmed by the Kangxi Emperor and his two imperial successors. A preoccupation with the harmonious solitude of a poet’s life defined this period of Chinese history, as well as a fascination with nature as the source of all beauty. These precepts are evocatively explored in items such as an exquisitely carved bamboo deer-form cup (Lot 34, est. $1500-3000) and a delicate gourd-and-amber cricket cage (Lot 37, est. $1200-1500). A plum-inspired zitan libation cup (Lot 32, est. $1200-1500) and a dali marble table screen (Lot 76, est. $2000-4000) both take their impetus from natural forms and celebrate the artfulness of the surrounding environment. And a rootwood ruyi scepter (Lot 42, est. $3000-5000), hardly modified from its original shape and extremely rare today, symbolizes the scholar’s unity with the natural world.

For the online auction, an exciting range of antiques from across China’s dynastic periods will be accompanied by rare and precious items from Korea, India, Tibet and Japan. Comprising approximately 250 items, these eclectic offerings range from one inch jade pendants to seven-foot tall wooden display cabinets. Highlights from the sale include a painted gilt-bronze brush rest in the shape of five mountain peaks (Lot 1061, est. $2000-3000), Tibetan thangkas (Lot 1001 to 1004, est. to $500-700), and a cloisonne censer (Lot 1225, est. $800-1200), all likely dating from the Ming to Qing periods. A small group of Korean works presented here include two Korean genre paintings of the early 20th-century Kim Jun-geun School (Lot 1023 and 1024, est. to $3000-5000) alongside ceramics and a furniture piece from the Goryeo to Joseon periods. Chinese literati style is also represented in a dali marble-inset hardwood table screen (Lot 1069, est. $2000-4000) and a monumental painting of the Grand Canyon by Zeng Xiaojun (Lot 1232, est. $8000-10000), completed when he resided in the U.S. and experimented with approaching fresh, contemporary subjects with traditional Chinese techniques. The sale will also feature a broad range of textiles, jades, paintings, furniture items, and decorative okimonos that are sure to catch the eye of any collector with a taste for fine art and expressive design.

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