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Asia Week

Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art

Sotheby's

10 A.M., March 23, 2010

Sale 8618

"Two Mynas on a Rock" by Bada Shanren

Lot 92, "Two Mynas on a Rock," by Bada Shanren (Zhu Da), hanging scroll,41 1/2 by 14 1/8 inches

By Carter B. Horsley

The March 23, 2010 auction of Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art at Sotheby's is highlighted by several paintings by Chang Da-Chien and a hanging scroll by Bada Shanren (Zhu Da)(1626-1705).

Lot 82 is a good hanging scroll by Bada Shanren that is entitled "Two Mynas on a Rock." It measures 41 1/2 by 14 1/8 inches. It has an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000. It sold for $2,994,500, including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article.

The sale's pre-sale estimates were $6 million to $8 million. Its total was $14,400,063!

The catalogue provides the following commentary on this work:

"Descended from an imperial Ming family of scholars and artists, Bada was a Ming loyalist who likely struggled to accept the establishment of the new Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). This was the second time in all of Chinese history that foreigners ruled China. As mynas are known for their mocking calls and their ability to mimic the sounds around them, the depiction of these birds could symbolize Bada's disapproving attitude towards the new ruling family. Althouh the new Qing rulers quickly learned the language and traditions as means to assimilate and effectively govern, they spent the first few years forcefully eliminating all potential threats especially among elites who might undermine their mandate to vote. Thus, when Bada's hometown of Nanchang was occupied by Manchus in 1645, he retreated in 1648 to a Buddhist temple where he lived for the next twenty-two years. During this tiume he was exposed to the teachings of Chan Buddhism, which heavily informed his paintings, poetry and calligraphy, the three art forms. As with many works by Bada, at first, this composition seems enigmatic, but upon closer study, hidden layers of meaning are revealed. A large empty space rises above the subject but a delicate balance is struck with the weightiness of the deeply black painted birds, capturing so well the Buddhist aesthetic of empty and full....Bada Shanren produced his most creative and significant works from 1684 until his death in 1705. Of his 179 known works, 167 were painted during these years. His dramatic but controlled brushwork and the ability to express complicated ideas in the simplest of forms set him apart from artists before him, and his paintings became a profound influence on future generations of leading Chinese artists."

"Scholar" by Zhang Daqian

Lot 108, "Scholar," by Zhang Daqian (Chang Dai-Chien), ink and color on paper, 26 y 14 1/8 inches, 1950

Lot 108 is an ink and color on paper of a scholar by Zhang Daqian (Chang Dai-Chien) (1899-1983), the most famous Chinese artist of the 20th Century who was also a well-known collector and also was widely believed to one of the most successful art forgers in history (see The City Review's articles on Chinagate, a controversy involving the attribution of 25 paintings acquired from C. C. Wang by the Metropolitan Museum of Art). The work is dated 1950 and measures 26 by 14 1/8 inches. The catalogue notes that the artist gifted this work to his close friend Xu Shihao (1899-1961), a native of Suzhou and a famous laywer in Shanghai who later moved to Hong Kong. The workhas an estimate of $120,000 to $180,000. It sold for $902,500!

Album by Zhang Daqian and Pu Ru

Lot 106, "Album of Figures and Accompanying Calligraphy," by Zhang Daqian (Chang Dai-chien) and Pu Ru, eight double-leaves, ink and color on paper, 10 3/4 by 11 1/2 inches each double-leaf

Lot 106 is an album of eight double-leaves of figures and calligraphy by Zhang Daqian and Pu Ru (1896-1963). The double-leaves each measure 10 3/4 by 11 1/2 inches. The lot has an estimate of $40,000 to $60,000. It sold for $662,500!

"Landscape" by Zhang Daqian

Lot 107, "Landscape," by Zhang Daqian (Chang Dai-chien), hanging scroll, ink and color on paper, 33 3/8 by 10 7/8 inches, 1934

Another work by Zhang Daqian is Lot 107, "Landscape," a hanging scroll that measures 33 3/8 by 10 7/8 inches. It is dated 1934. It has an estimate of $12,000 to $15,000. It sold for $56,250.

Style of Zhao Guangfu

Lot 94, "Horses frolicking by a river," style of Zhao Guangfu (10th Century), 9 3/8 inches in diameter, Ming Dynasty

Lot 94 is a very fine circular painting that the catalogue states is in the style of Zhao Guangfu (10th Century). It is entitled "Horses Frolicking By a River." The catalogue says the work comes from the Ming Dynasty. It has an estimate of $3,000 to $4,000. It sold for $20,000.

"Orchids" by Wen Zhengming

Lot 96, "Orchids," by Wen Zhengming, fan painting, ink on gold-flecked paper, 6 7/8 by 18 3/4 inches

Lot 96 is a lovely fan painting of ink on gold-flecked paper by Wen Zhengming (1470-1559). It is entitled "Orchids" and measures 6 7/8 by 18 3/4 inches. It has an estimate of $15,000 to $20,000. It sold for $37,500.

 

"Peach Blossom Spring" by Zhang Daqian

Lot 105, "Peach Blossom Spring," by Zhang Daqian (Chang Dai-Chien) and Xie Zhiliu, hanging scroll, ink and color on paper, 53 3/4 by 17 3/4 inches

Lot 105, "Peach Blossom Spring," is a hanging scroll that measures 53 3/4 by 17 3/4 inches and the catalogue says it is by Zhang Daqian (Chang Dai-Chien) and Xie Zhiliu (1910-1997), who wrote the inscription on the work in 1987. It has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It sold for $59,375.

"Cottage in the Winter Mountains" by Shen Hengji

Lot 98, "Cottage in the Winter Mountains," by Shen Hengji, hanging scroll, ink on paper,k41 3/4 by 24 3/4 inches, 1460

Lot 68 is an attractive hanging scroll by Shen Hengji (1409-1477) that measures 41 3/4 by 24 3/4 inches. It is entitled "Cottage in the Winter Mountains" and it is dated 1460. It has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000. It sold for $28,125.

Tribute Guangzhou fan, Qing Dynasty

Lot 149, Tribute Guangzhou embellished ivory and tortoie shell fan, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period, 19 inches long excluding tassel

Lot 149 is an exquisite "rare imperial tribute Guangzhou embellished ivory and tortoise shell fan" of the Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period. It is 19 inches long not counting its tassel. It has an estimate of $140,000 to $180,000. It failed to sell.

Guangdong Ware buffalo

Lot 245, "Guangdong Ware" Buffalo, Qing Dynasty, late 19th Century, 22 inches long

Lot 245 is a very impressive "Guangdong Ware" buffalo from the Qing Dynasty, late 19th Century. It is 22 inches long and has an estimate of $30,000 to $50,000. It failed to sell.

Two soapstone seals

Lot 143, two "chicken-blood" soapstone seals

Two of the most stunning small objects in the auction are Lot 143, two "chicken-blood" soapstone seals, one 3 1/2 and the other 1 3/4 inches high. The smaller seals has a carved squirrel scampering amidst a grapevine. The lot has an estimate of $6,000 to $8,000. It failed to sell.

"Double-gourd" brushwasher

Lot 46, "double-gourd" brushwasher, Qing Dynasty,18th Century, 8 inches long

One of the most exquisite objects in the auction is Lot 46, a fine and rare pale celadon jade "double-gourd" brushwasher from the Qing Dynasty, 18th Century. It is 8 inches long. The center of the gourd is tied with a beribboned wan symbol with a fluttering bat perched at the base of the melon. It has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000. It sold for $632,500.

Wucai brush box and cover

Lot 75, "Wucai" brush box and cover, Wanli mark and period, 11 7/8 inches long

One of the most colorful works in the auction is Lot 75, a rare "Wucai" brush box and cover with a Wanli mark and period. It is 11 7/8 inches long and its decoration includes five-clawed red draongs and a flying phoenix. It has an estimate of $20,000 to $40,000. It sold for $56,250.

"Spnac-green jade vase

Lot 181, "Bajixang" vase, Qianlong seal mark and period, spinach-green jade, 10 1/2 inches high

Lot 181 is a very fine and rare spinach-green jade "Bajixang" vase with a Qianlong seal mark and period. It is 10 1/2 inches high. It has an estimate of $180,000 to $240,000. It sold for $314,500.

Embellished lacquer panel

Lot 160, lacquer panel, Qing Dynasty, 18th/19th Century, 40 1/2 by 71 inches

Lot 160 is a large embellished lacquer panel from the Qing Dynasty, 18th/19th Century. It measures 40 1/2 by 71 inches and has an estimate of $60,000 to $120,000. It failed to sell.

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