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Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art


10 A.M., March 23, 2011

Sale 8726

Huanghuali yokeback armchairs

One of a pair of Huanghuali yokeback armchairs (Guanmao Yi), 17th Century. 46 1/4 inches high, Lot 651

By Carter B. Horsley

This auction of Chinese works of art at Sotheby's March 23, 2011 is highlighted by a painting of "The Fragrant Concubine," some fine minimalist furniture, some good screens and some nice vases.

Lot 651 is an excellent pair of Huanghuali yokeback armchairs (Guanmao Yi) from the 17th Century.  The chairs are 46 1/4 inches high and are distinguished by soft and gentle curves and minimalism.  The lot has an estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.  It sold to an Asian buyer for $2,770,500 including the buyer's premium as do all results mentioned in this article!

Of the 202 offered lots, 145 sold for $25,968.500.

Another Huanghuali lot of furniture was Lot 671, a recessed leg painting table (Huaan) from the Qing Dynasty (17th Century).  The 83-inch long table has an estimate of $50,000 to $70,000.  It sold for $602,500!

Lot 674 is a "fine and rare" large Imperial "Zitan" long table (Tiaoan), Qing Dynasty, Quianlong Period.  The 75  1/2-inch-long table was formerly in the collection of Robert  H. Ellsworth and the estate of John Alex McCone.  

The catalogue provided the following commentary:

"Masterfully carved from the prized and rare zitan wood, the elegant table is a testament to the high artistic standards set forth during the Quianlong emperor's reign.Zitan, a member of the rosewood family, was a rare commodity during the 18th Century due to its small size and slow pace of growth  Hence a carefully carved item of this generous size supports the attribution of this table as having been purchased from Quianlong's private quarters in the Imperial Palace in 1911 by an American collector.'"

The lot has an estimate of $500,000 to $700,000.  It failed to sell.

Celadon jade archaistic vessel and cover

Lot 610, Celadon jade archaistic vessel and cover (Yi), Qianlong Fang Gu mark and period, dated to the Binghen Year (corresponding to 1776), 6 inches wide

Lot 610 is a "rare and Imperially inscribed" Celadon jade archaistic vessel and cover (Yi), Qianlong Fang Gu mark and period, dated to the Binghen Year (corresponding to 1776).  It is 6 inches wide and has an estimate of $70,000 to $90,000.  It sold for $1,650,500!  The catalogue notes that "craftsmen of the Imperial workshops drew inspiration from...the 40-volume catalogue of the Imperial Qing bronze collection, of 1751."

"Ru" type archaistic vase

Lot 736, "Ru" type archaistic vase (Hu), Qianlong seal mark and period, 13 3/4 inches high

Lot 736 is a very lovely and rare "Ru" type archaistic vase (Hu) with a Qianlong seal mark.  It is 13 3/4 inches high and has an estimate of $150,000 to $200,000.  It sold to the Shanghai Tianwuguan Art Fund
for $812,500.

"Hundred Boys'" celadon jade brushpot

Lot 612, "Hundred Boys' Celadon Jade Brushpot," Qing Dynasty, 18th Century, 5 3/4 inches high

Lot 612 is a "very rare and well-carved" Hundred Boys' celadon jade brushpot from the Qing Dynasty, 18th Century.  It is 5 3/4 inches high and has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000.  It sold for $1,538,500!  The Hundred Boys' theme of the Ming and Qing dynasties symbolizes the Chinese perpetual wish for many sons.  The catalogue quotes a reference that the theme had its origin in theWestern Zhou dynasty when King Wen of the Zhou adopted one son in addition to his 99 sons to complete the number of one hundred.

"Longquan" celadon vase

Lot 719, "Longquan" celadon vase (cong), Song/Yuan Dynasty, 16 1/4 inches high

Although this season, later Chinese ceramics seemed to grab more attention from collectors, earlier works are rarer and more important.  Lot 719 is a "very rare and large" Longquan celadon vase (cong) from the Song/Yuan dynasty of great sculpture form and lovely color.  It is 16 1/2 inches high.  It has an estimate of $300,000 to $400,000.  It did not sell.

Siege of Pingyu painting

Lot 637, "Siege of Pingyu" painting from set of 18, Qingkuang, Qing Dynasty, Guangxu Period, 122 by 54 inches

Lot 637 is an "important Imperial Nian rebellion battle paiting "Siege of Pingyu" from a set of 18 paintings commemorating the campaign of thevictories over the Nian, 1853-1868," by Qiankuang (flourished late 19th century), Qing Dynasty, Guangxu Period.  It measures 122 by 54 inches.  The cover illustration of the catalogue, it has an estimate of $800,000 to $1,200,000.  It sold to an Asian buyer for $1,986,600.

12-panel screen of the Peach Festival

Lot 683, 12-panel coromandel screen of The Peach Festival, Qing Dynasty, Kangxi Period

Lot 683 is an impressive 12-panel coromandel screen of The Peach Festival, Qing Dynasty, Kangxi Period.  The catalogue notes that the screen is "decorated with an auspicious and elaborate scene of the Peach Festival with the Daoist Immortals arriving with much fanfare to celebrate the Queen Mother of the West at her 'Jade Palace' in the Kunlun Mountains, some crossing the waters of the Sea of Happiness on mythological animals, others on foot along mountain paths or crossing bridges incljding Zhongkui and his captive demon bringing a cartload of fruiting peach boughs, many other figures borne on clouds each holding gifts of peaches...."  It added that the celebration of the festival takes place in the Western paradise only every 3,000 years and that the Queen Mother oif the West, Xi Wangmu, is the only person given the authority to hand out the peaches of Eternal Life.  The lot has a modest estimate of $40,000 to $60,000.  It sold for $86,500.

Coromandel screen of 8 panels

Lot 761, 8-panel coromandel screen, Qing Dynasty, 18-th-19th-century, 132 inches wide

Lot 761 is an 8-panel coromandel  screen from the Qing Dynasty, 18th-19th Century.  It is 132 inches wide and has an estimate of $20,000 to $30,000.  It failed to sell.

The Fragrant Concubine

Lot 634, "The Fragrant Concubine," in the style of Lang Shining (Giuseppi Castiglione), Qing Dynasty, 18-19th Century, oil on paper, 27 by 19 1/2 inches

Lot 634 is a lovely painting of "The Fragrant Concubine," in the style of Lang Shining (Giuseppi Castiglione), Qing Dynasty, 18-19th Century.  It is an oil on paper that measures 27 by 19 1/2 inches.  

The catalogue provides the following commentary on this lot:

"Few female subjects in theChinese painting repertoire of the Qing Dynasty have summoned the level of curiosity and myth-making as the women seatted in the present picture.  Elegantly attired and gazing diretly at the viewer the young woman seated has inspired grand theories as to her identity and origins .  In her most popular incarnation, she is known as the 'Fragrant Conubine.'  The legend of the 'Fragrant Cncubine' appears to have developed as a result of historical fact embellished with fanciful myths.  Historically, it is believed that her name was Rong Fei, a Muslim of Uighur descent from the oasis city Kashgar in Xinjiang province.  In 1760 she entered the Imperial harem in Beijing as a six-ranked guiren or honored person.  She lived in the Imperial palace until her death in 1788, but which time she was promoted to the fourth rank of fei, or consort. The 'Fragrant' mythology stems from the story of Qianlong's discovery of Rong Fei.  Although her beauty was unsurpassed, it was her body's natural scent that the Emperor found captivating.  The present painting...can be traced to a related painting from the colletion of Madame Chiang Kai-shek."

The lot has an estiamte of $100,000 to $150,000.  It sold for $1,202,500.

"Amhua" White-glazed ewer

Lot 720, "Anhua" decorated white-glazed ewer, Ming Dynasty, Yongle Period, 12 1/2 inches high

Lot 720 is an "Anhua" decorated white-glazed ewer from the Ming Dynasty, Yongle Period.  It is 12 1/2 inches high.  The spout is connected to the main body by what the catalogue states is a "cloud-form strut" and the ewer's handle has silver ornaments at its top and bottom.  The lot was an estimate of $400,000 to $600,000.  It sold for $1,258,500.


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