Bonhams announces Paris Asia Week sale highlights from 9 to 16 June

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Bonhams announces Paris Asia Week sale highlights from 9 to 16 June
A Grey Schist Figure of a Bodhisattva Ancient Region of Gandhara, Circa 3rd Century. Estimate: €400,000-600,000. Photo: Bonhams.

PARIS.- Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr will offer six auctions from 9 to 16 June 2023 (including two online), with a series of exhibitions taking place before the auctions and conferences on Saturday 10 June. This rich and varied programme will allow collectors from all over the world to discover and appreciate Asian Art exhibited during the Printemps Asiatique in Paris.


Following two successful auctions in Paris in 2022, Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr will be offering part III of the remarkable Claude de Marteau Collection at 6 Avenue Hoche on 12 June. The Claude de Marteau Collection is a unique assemblage of art gathered over decades by the late dealer and collector. It contains works created over a period of 1,500 years in the Hindu and Buddhist cultures that once flourished in India, Nepal, Tibet and China.

This auction will offer a range of Hindu and Buddhist treasures including a 3rd century Gandhara Bodhisattva statue, over 1 meter high (estimate : €400,000-€600,000). The sale also features a 15th/16th century Tibetan gilt copper alloy figure of the 9th century Buddhist master Virupa, renowned for both his wisdom and for his wild, unpredictable behaviour. The statue depicts a famous episode in the story of his life with his left hand raised in order to stop the flow of the Ganges river (estimate: €150,000 to €200,000). The figure is richly gilded and inlaid with turquoise stones. The face is painted in gold and the lips, eyes and eyebrows are also painted in the Tibetan style, giving it a more realistic appearance.

As a young man, Claude de Marteau stumbled upon the art that was to be his lifelong passion while he was on an extended trip through Afghanistan, over the Hindu Kush to the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. Entirely self-taught, he became a respected dealer and an eminent authority on Tibetan, Nepalese, Indian and Southeast Asia art.

Bonhams Global Head of Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Art, Edward Wilkinson, recalls the first time he was shown into the storage room: “A plain door opened to reveal simple metal shelving and large wood work benches, but once the lights came on the contents of the shelves left me stunned. Hundreds of superb Tibetan, Nepalese, and Indian sculptures were interspersed with paint cans and cleaning materials.”

A Gilt Copper Alloy Figure of Amitayus bears all the hallmarks of the exceptional mastery of one of the greatest known artists in Tibet, active in the first half of the 15th century, namely the master craftsman Sonam Gyaltsen, active in Shigatse, central Tibet, c. 1430-40 (Estimate: €1,000,000-1,500,000)

An important Damarupada thangka from the Ngor Monastery in Central Tibet circa 1600 published in various important publications and exhibited at the Rubin Museum of Art in New York and the Art Institute of Chicago will be offered with an estimate of €300,000-500,000.


Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr is pleased to announce a tightly curated sale in Paris on June 13. It will offer a range of works of art from private European collections comprising Buddhist sculpture, Imperial porcelains, jades and snuff bottles, ranging in date from the Shang to the Qing dynasties. The sale is led by a magnificent and very rare large wood figure of Bodhisattva Guanyin made under the Jin dynasty (1215-1234), formerly in the collection of Paul Houo-Ming-Tse (1880-1949). The figure first sold in Paris in 1932 and has remained in a French family collection since. Large sculptures such as this one were originally made for Buddhist temples. Its monumental size is reminiscent of the bodhisattva from the Rousset collection sold at Bonhams last October (estimate: €800,000 - €1,200,000). From the same collection, an important stone head of a Guanyin bodhisattva from the Tang dynasty (618-906) will be offered, still showing traces of polychromy. The serene face features half-closed almond-shaped eyes, surmounted by sharp eyebrows, an aquiline nose, and a fleshy mouth (estimate: €60,000 - €80,000).

Other sale highlights include a very rare large seated wood figure of a female Daoist deity, dated to the Song dynasty (960-1279), from a German private collection, an important archaic bronze ritual vessel, Ya Chou Fu Xin gui, first recorded in the 1930s and in a German collection since 1958, a magnificent group of Buddhist gilt-bronze figures including a rare large 15th century gilt-bronze figure of Green Tara, from two distinguished private European collections. The sale will also include a selection of snuff bottles from two private European collections including the Smit Collection.


On June 14, Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr will be offering the extraordinary collection of Guy de Lasteyrie, who discovered the world of netsuke in his grandmother's library, where these small objects fascinated him. His grandmother left him her collection as an inheritance, marking the starting point of a long passion of more than fifty years.

Made by numerous schools located throughout the Japanese archipelago in Edo, Osaka or Kyoto, some remarkable pieces are signed by great masters such as Tadayoshi, Toyomasa, Masanao, Tsuji and Tametaka. They often represent animals, ghosts or characters with admirable precision and attention to detail.

Since the 17th century, the Japanese wearing kimonos tied at the waist with a belt called obi. The men carried objects in sagemono, small boxes attached to the belt by a cord. The cord passed behind the obi and was blocked by a small object – the netsuke. It seems that the first netsuke were particularly austere and purely utilitarian: simple shells or pieces of wood. But with the advent of the Edo period (1603-1868), these objects became of unprecedented refinement in various materials such as wood. With the opening of Japan to international trade in 1854, Westerners became fascinated with these objects, which they imported to Europe. In this auction, the work of Shugasai Toyokazu, active in Tanba in the 19th century, is remarkable. A 3.8 cm long sabre-toothed tiger is estimated between €10,000 to €15,000.

A wooden netsuke depicting the giant sansukumi snake by Masanao, Yamada, Ise Province, 19th century is estimated at €18,000 to €25,000. Another model depicting an elephant and a karako (little boy) by Tsuji, Osaka, mid/late 18th century is estimated at €25,000 - €35,000 and a sarumawashi (monkey trainer and showman) by Matsushita Otoman, Hakata, 19th century is estimated at €12,000 - €18,000.


Following the success of the first sale last December, Bonhams Cornette de Saint Cyr is organising a second one offering Vietnamese works of art from 9 to 15 June under the direction of Joan Yip. Blending Vietnamese and French traditions, the paintings in this sale explore not only the golden age of Vietnamese art (1930-1945) but also the pre-war and post-war periods with paintings by Vietnamese artists such as Le Pho.

From the collection of Pierre Le Tan, this painting entitled La Famille is dated circa 1955 aka the Romanet period (1946-1962) during which Le Pho continued to paint on silk, using gouache and thick oil paint to give substance and intensity to his paintings. The colour palette became lighter, as well as the brushstrokes, and he abandoned the dark, clearly delineated lines of his earlier work to explore a freer, impressionistic style. Here, Le Pho creates an ideal world of beauty and love through an idyllic scene with a flowery backdrop, depicting the love between a mother and her child (estimate: €250,000 - €340,000).

This sale will also offer at auction a group of Vietnamese ceramics from European private collections and covering the Lý and Trần dynasties, including an important ivory-glazed stoneware vase, known as Thanh Hoa ware (estimate: €5,000 - €7,000), and a pair of rare blue and white vases made on royal order for the Vietnamese king Khai Dinh around 1924, for the reception on the occasion of his 40th birthday including a pair of blue and white Chinese vases made for Vietnam around 1924 (estimate: €3,000 - €5,000).

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