Asian art auctions at Bonhams in San Francisco achieve $10 million

A fine cinnabar lacquer scholar’s chest with dragon decoration, 18th/19th century, Sold for $314,500; Est. $30,000-50,000

San Francisco – Avid overseas Chinese buyers packed the Bonhams’ auction room and drove prices to record levels this week in San Francisco. The market proved buoyant in every category of Chinese works of art, with telephone and internet bidders vying with bidders in the room for objects fresh to the market from private collectors, estates and institutions.

The June 24 auction of Fine Asian Works of Art saw lot after lot soar past their estimates, achieving a sell-through rate of 85% by lot and 94% by value for the 299 lots offered.

Rare jade carvings were the target of frenzied bidding, with a fine jadeite bowl, Jiaqing mark, from a private Denver collection, achieving five times its estimate at $158,500, and a nephrite two-part table screen, from the Harold Stack collection, selling for $218,500, at ten times its estimate. A fine cinnabar lacquer scholar’s chest with dragon decoration, 18th/19th century, from a San Francisco lady, was sold to a Chinese collector over the phone for $314,500, after a fierce battle with multiple in-room bidders.

Read moreAsian art auctions at Bonhams in San Francisco achieve $10 million

$4 Rhino Horn Libation Cup Sells For $75,000

rhino-horn-cupOn the bitterly cold evening of June 18, Sotheby’s held a general auction of fine Asian, Australian and European design at its Anzac House headquarters in Collins Street, Melbourne. This was a new sale model for Sotheby’s: a tight catalogue of 229 lots including Chinese ceramics, designer furniture, European glass and silver, Australian and European paintings and works on paper.

The auction achieved a total of $1,506,334, including buyers’ premium (IBP), with 60.26 per cent sold by volume and 110.71 per cent by value.

Sotheby’s chairman Geoffrey Smith said he was especially pleased by the results of Chinese ceramics, with some reminders of the halcyon days of five years ago. The best seller was lot 17, a pair of dragon and phoenix bowls from the Kangxi period, reputedly acquired in Australia in the 1940s or ’50s.

Estimates were $30,000 to $50,000; they sold for $195,200 IBP after strong bidding in the room, and on the telephone and internet.

The auction was well attended by Asian clients. Some of these, Smith suspects, may have been bidding on behalf of buyers in China or Hong Kong.

Almost as spectacular was lot 61, a magnolia and prunus rhinoceros horn libation cup, dating from the 17th-18th century. It sold for well over estimates of $20,000 to $30,000, for $75,640 IBP.

Read more$4 Rhino Horn Libation Cup Sells For $75,000

Dayazhai Vase Sold In Newmarket for 38k

cixi-vaseA 19th century Chinese Imperial vase, discovered in a house close to Newmarket, sold for 38k this week when it went under the hammer at Rowleys.

The yellow vase, which is decorated with magpies and wisteria, was based on a design reputedly devised by one of China’s most powerful political figures – the Dragon Empress or Empress Cixi, the former concubine who went on to be a powerful influence on two Chinese emperors during the second half of the 19th century.

Read moreDayazhai Vase Sold In Newmarket for 38k

Tennants Sells Small Qianlong Vase For £950,000

tennants-vaseBIDDERS made the journey from halfway across the world to an auction house in the market town of Leyburn today (Friday, March 15) lured by the chance of owning a small, 20cm high Chinese vase.

Lot 128 was a small, blue and white porcelain vase that looked so shiny and perfect it could have come straight from the souvenir shop of a rundown seaside town.

But within a matter of minutes it had sold for £950,000 at Tennants Auction House in North Yorkshire.

Decorated with lotus blossoms and intricate patterns, the traditional eighteenth century Ming-style vase had belonged to diplomat Sir Frances Stronge who served in Peking in 1879 and was passed down through a family in Northern Ireland.

Read moreTennants Sells Small Qianlong Vase For £950,000

Transitional Porcelain A Quick Primer

A Chinese porcelain blue and white waisted brushpot, Transitional period. Circa 1640

During the early/mid seventeenth century in China, for some fifty years the absence of Imperial patronage meant non-Imperial kilns played a leading role in ceramic production.

This resulted in one of the most dynamic and fascinating periods in China’s porcelain history.

The withdrawal from Jingdezhen’s potters of Court patronage led to a dramatic diversity of production, as the kilns turned their attention to selling both into the non-Imperial domestic market, and into newly-emerging export markets, notably the Dutch and Japanese markets.

Read moreTransitional Porcelain A Quick Primer

Clever Or Clueless? Estimate At $10,000

Sotheby’s Pair Of Famille Rose Boxes – Jokers Estimate At $10,000

Two Unusual Chinese Famille-Rose Gilt Decorated Boxes And Covers. Qianlong Mark And Period. Each realistically molded as a bundle of ten firecrackers in variously patterned brocade cases, secured by a sash tied in a bow, the interior and recessed base enameled turquoise, the base centered with a four-character Qianlong mark in iron-red.

Examples of firecrackers upon which the boxes are based upon are illustrated in a court painting by Giuseppe Castiglione (Lang Shining) and preserved in the Palace Museum, Beijing, entitled Emperor Qianlong enjoying himself in Snowy Weather, illustrated in Life in the Forbidden City of the Qing Dynasty,  Beijing, 2007, p. 262, pl. 430.

Estimate: $10/15,000; sold for $494,500

Top 5 Selling Lots: Christies New York Sale 2580 FINE CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART PARTS I AND II


Price Realized $1,426,500

The trumpet-shaped neck of the vessel is cast in relief with four dragon-filled blades above a band of birds with backward-turned heads. The mid-section is cast with two large taotie masks above four smaller taotie masks on the spreading lower section. All are divided by plain flanges and separated by bow-string borders. There is a bold inscription cast in the base of the interior. The bronze has a dark silvery-grey patina mottled with areas of blue-green encrustation as well as some azurite and ferrous encrustation.

Lot Notes

The inscription cast on the base of the interior consists of a graph within a yaxing followed by seven characters possibly reading lu zuo Fu Xin yi zun (made this vessel for Father Xin.)

The inscription on the wood box is by Hozuma Katori (1874-1954), a prominant Japanese bronze artist of the early 20th century. The inscription is dated to 1943, and provides a complete description of the vessel, and a translation of the inscription.

In terms of shape and design, this imposing vessel is very similar to one of early Western Zhou date from Zhuangbai village, Fufeng, Shaanxi province, illustrated in Zhongguo Qingtongqi Quanji – 5 – Xi Zhou (1), Beijing, 1997. Like the present zun, the Zhuangbai zun features a similar arrangement of bands of taotie masks and birds reserved on a plain ground. The flanges on the Zhuangbai zun, however, are hooked, rather than plain, such those on the present vessel. A late Shang zun of similar proportions and with similar bands of decoration, but reserved on a ground of leiwen, is in the Shanghai Museum and illustrated in Zhongguo Qingtongqi Quanji – 4 – Shang (4), Beijing, 1998, pp. 120-1, nos. 122-4. Also illustrated, p. 124, no. 127, is another zun of Shang date in the Shanghai Museum, which is cast with bands of taotie masks reserved on a plain ground around the midsection and base, but lacks decoration around neck and flanges that accentuate the form of the present zun and the Zhuangbai example.

Read moreTop 5 Selling Lots: Christies New York Sale 2580 FINE CHINESE CERAMICS AND WORKS OF ART PARTS I AND II

Valentine Auctions Ltd – Buyer Beware

Just back from viewing Valentines Auction rooms in Shropshire. Initially the sale looked promising from the online catalogue unfortunately the majority of the “Chinese Antiques” were reproduction with wrong descriptions and huge estimates. Buyer Beware

Valentine Auctions Ltd Two Day Sale of Antique, Jewellery, Silver & Collectables

Sale Date
17 Sep 2012 10:30am
18 Sep 2012 10:30am

Venue Address
Cosford Auction Rooms
Long Lane
TF11 8PJ
United Kingdom

Lot 677 Valentines Description: Impressive pair of heavily carved Chinese cinnabar lacquer vases probably late 19th C with incised Qianlong mark to base 45cm tall. Estimate: £2,000 – £3,000

(These vases are modern & not worth the 2-3k estimate)

Read moreValentine Auctions Ltd – Buyer Beware