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Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art
Part I

Sotheby's New York

10 A.M., September 14, 2011

Sale 8763

Late Shang/Early Western Zhou ritual food vessel

Lot 299, Archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Late Shang/Early Western Zhou dynasty, China, 11th/10th Century B.C., 16 inches high

By Carter B. Horsley

This auction of Chinese works of art at Sotheby's September 14, 2011 is highlighted by a nice selection of archaic bronzes, some excellent large screens, and some good ceramics.

The cover illustration of the catalogue is Lot 299, a "rare and impressive" archaic bronze ritual good vessel from the Late Shang/Early Western Zhou dynastry 11th-10th Century, B.C.  The 16-inch-high bronze comes from the collection of the Denzaburo Fuita in Osaka and Sadajiro Kawai of Kyoto.


"Stylistically, the present piece is remarkable for the large, boldly cast taotie mask occupying the center of each side of the vessel, dominated by a pair of circular bulging eyes rising above the plain mask with simple linear details."  The catalogue entry also noted the work's "boldly sweeping pronounced S-curved profile accentuated by lateral flanges scored with transverse  grooves and interupted by deep notches at the level of each of the narrow plain horizontial strips separating the five registers of the design."

It has an estimate of $2,500,000 to $3,000,000.  It failed to sell.


Stupa, silver, Northern Sung Dynasty
Lot 320, stupa, Northern Sung Dynasty, dated 986 A.D., silver, 14 inches high

Lot 320 is a Northern Sung Dynasty silver stupa, dated 986 A.D., that is 14 inches high. A related example sdated 1031 A.D. is in the Fogg Museum in Cambridge, Masachusetts.  It has narrative scenes from the life of the Buddha.  The work is property of J. T. Tai & Co., and it has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $116,500 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.

Archaic bronze ritual food vessel, Late Shang/Early Western Zhou

Lot 266, archaic bronze ritual food vessel (gui), Late Shang/Early Western Zhou Dynasty, 11th/10th Century B.C., 6 1/4 inches high

Lot 266 is  a good archaic bronze ritual food vessel (gui) from the Late Shang/Early Western Zhou Dynastry, 11th/10th Century, B.C.  It is 6 1/4 inches high and is the property of the Sano Art Museum in Mishima City, Shzuoka. It has an estimate of $70,000 to $90,000. It sold for $338,500.

Large bronze bell from Eastern Zhou Dynasty

Lot 264, large bronze bell (bo), 24 1/4 inches high, Eastern Zhou Dynasty, Spring and Autumn Period

Lot 264 is also property of the Sano Art Museum in Mishima City, Shizouka.  It is a large bronze bell (bo) from the Eastern Zhou Dynasty, Spring and Autumn Period.  It is 24 1/4 inches high and has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000.  It failed to sell.  Only two other examples of similar size are known.  It has an elaborately cast handle in the form of two feline beasts.

Archaic bronze ritual food vessel, fangyi

Lot 267, archaic bronze ritual food vessel, fangyi, Shang Dynasty, 12th-11th Century B.C., 7 3/4 inches high

Another work from the Sano Art Museum is Lot 267, a rare archaic bronze ritual food vessel, fangyi, from the Shang Dynasty, 12th-11th Century B.C.  It is 7 3/4 inches high and has an estimate of $1,500,000 to $2,500,000.  It failed to sell.

Rare bronze bell

Lot 294, rare bronze bell (bo), 16 1/2 inches high, Eastern Zhou Dynasty

Lot 294 is a smaller bo, also from the Eastern Zhou Dynasty.  It is 16 1/2 inches high and is surmounted by a handle of interwined snakes.  It has a modest estimate of $50,000 to $70,000. It failed to sell.

Archaic bronze taotie fitting

Lot 297, Archaic bronze "taotie" fitting, Late Shang/Early Western Zhou Dynasty, 7 1/2 inches high

One of the best bronzes is Lot 297, a silver-gray bronze archaic "taotie" fitting from the Late Shang/Early Western Zhou Dynasty.  It is 7 1/2 inches high and formerly in the Mottahedeh and Breitbart collections.  It has a modest estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $37,500.


Archaic bronze pou

Lot 295, Archaic bronze ritual wine vessel, pou, Late Shang Dynasty, 12th Century B.C., 8 inches high

Lot 295 is an Archaic bronze ritual wine vessel, pou, from the Late Shang Dynasty, 12th Century B.C.  It is 8 inches high and has an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000. It sold for $80,500.

Qing Dynasty, Kangxi Period coromandel screen

Lot 145, coromandel screen, Qing Dynasty, Kangxi Period, 12 panels, each 107 7/8 by 21 inches

Lot 145 is a "magnficent," 12-panel coromandel screen from the Qing Dynasty, Kangzi Period.  Each panel is 107 7/8 by 21 inches.  It has a modest estimate of $250,000 to $350,000. It sold for $302,500.

Detail of Lot 145

Detail of Lot 145

"Screens with a complex composition of animals, birds and flowers in a garden lanscape are extemely rare but the present sceeen is especially striking for its central depiction of a pair of spotted deer, superbly incised  with crisp brown brown fur and white spot markings, presenting a birthday wish of longevity enriched by pairs of mating birds singifying marital bliss and the blessings of abundant wealth bought by the qilin and the turtle," the catalogue entry noted.  

Detail of Lot 145

Detail of Lot 145

A screen with a similar depiction of deer amidst birds and flowers but without the fantastic animals traveling over waves, within a border of almost identical precious objects [is] now in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art."
One of pair of lacquered bronze boys

Lot 328, one of a pair of lacquered bronze kneeling boys with large cymbals, Ming Dynasty, 17th Century, 6 3/4 inches high

One of the highlights of the auction is Lot 328, a pair of lacquered bronze kneeling boys with large cymbals.  They date to the Ming Dynasty, 17th Century and are 6 3/4 inches high.  The lot has an estimate of $180,000 to $220,000.  It failed to sell.

12-panel coromandel screen, Qing Dynasty

Lot 133, 12-panel, brown-ground coromandel lacquer screen, Qing Dynasty, Kangxi Period, each panel 109 5/8 by 19 3/4 inches

Lot 133 is a 12-panel. brown ground coromandel lacquer screen from the Qing Dynasty, Kangxi Period.  Each panel is 109 5/8 by 19 3/4 inches.  

Detail of Lot 133

Detail of Lot 133

The lot has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000. It failed to sell.

8-panel cinnabar lacquer screen by Kuisheng


Lot 192, 8-panel cinnabar lacquer screen, signed Kuisheng, Qing Dynasty, 18th-19th Century, each panel 84 inches high, 19 3/4 inches wide

Lot 192 is a "rare" 8-panel cinnabar lacquer screen signed Kuisheng from the Qing Dynasty, 18th -19th Century.  Each panel is 84 inches by 19 3/4 inches.  The lot has an estimate of $120,000 to $150,000. It sold for $230,500.

Imperial cinnabar lacquer screen and stand


Lot 184, Imperial cinnabar lacquer screen and stand, Qing Dynasty, Early19th Century, 82 1/4 inches high

Lot 184 is an "impressive" Imperial cinnabar lacquer screen and stand from the Qing Dynasty, early 19th Century.  It is 82 1/4 inches high.  It has an estimate of $100,000 to $150,000. It failed to sell.

White marble figure of a Bodhisattva

Lot 305, white marble figure of a Bodhisattva, Ming Dynasty or later, 51 inches high

Lot 305 is a very graceful white marble figure of a Bodhisattva, Ming Dynasty or later.  It is 51 inches high amd property of J. T. Tai & Co.  It has an modest estimate of $6,000 to $8,000. It sold for $122,500.

Head of a Luohan, stone, Song Dynasty

Lot 319, head of a Luohan, stone, Song Dynasty, 10 inches high


Lot 310 is a very fine stone head of a Luohan, Song Dynasty.  It is 10 inches high and is property of J. T.Tai & Co.  It has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $158,500.

Head of a Bodhisattva, stone, Liao/Song Dynasty

Lot 318, head of a Bodhisattva, stone, Liao/Song Dynasty, 17 inches high

Another good work from J. T. Tai & Co., is Lot 318, a stone head of a Bodhisattva from the Liao/Song Dynasty.  It is 17 inches high and has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $194,500.

Seated figure of Buddha

Lot 227, gilt-decorated and enameled figure of Buddha, Qing Dynasty, 15 7/8 inches high

Lot 227 is an "unusual" gilt-decorated and enameled figure of Buddha,Qing Dynasty.  It is 15 7/8 inches high and has an estimate of $15,000 to $20,000. It sold for $25,000.

Famille-rose "dragon and phoenix" vase

Lot 439, a "famille-rose" "dragon and phoenix" vase, Qing Dynasty, Guangxu Period, 15 1/2 inches high

Lot 439 is a good "famille-rose" "dragon and phoenix" vase from the Qing Dynasty, Guangxu Period.  It is 15 1/2 inches high and has an estimate of $10,000 to $15,000. 

Famille-rose "Butterfly" vase

Lot 416, "famille-rose" "Butterfly" vase, Xuantong mark and period, 15 1/2 inches high

Lot 416 is a very atttactive "Butterfly" vase, Xuantong mark and period.  It is 15 1/2 inches high and has an estimate of $7,000 to $9,000.

Sotheby's workers protesting outside exhibition

Some Sotheby's workers protesting "fat cats" at auction house during Asian Week exhibition


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