A panoramic painting scroll by imperial artist Wang Zhenpeng of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) fetched 101.2 million yuan ($16 million) on Tuesday at Poly International Auction’s autumn sales in Beijing.
The ink-and-water painting from the Ullens’ collection gives meticulous details of various life scenes, including entertainment and business activities and a wedding, along the Oujiang River in Zhejiang province.
The painting, which has a length of 9.5 meters, shows 1,607 people, 494 buildings, 68 ships and boats, and nearly 200 animals.
San Francisco — A magnificent blue and white porcelain vase, dating to the Yongzheng period (1723-1735), sold in the auction room today at Bonhams in San Francisco for more than $5.9 million, against multiple phone bidders from Mainland China. The vase, offered on behalf of a California institution, was part of the bequest of Chinese porcelains by former First Lady Lou Henry Hoover, who began acquiring blue and white porcelains while living in London in the first two decades of the 20th century.
Estimated conservatively at $500,000-700,000, the bidding began slowly among multiple telephone bidders and built to a crescendo, with the ultimate buyer entering the competition at the $3 million mark. This buyer was Richard Littleton of Littleton and Hennessy, an Asian Art advisory group based in the US, London and Hong Kong. From then on, the bidding escalated quickly as a battle between the room and the telephone, with the floor bidder, Mr. Littleton, victorious.
The cylindrical exterior is exquisitely enamelled with two elderly scholars, assisted by an attendant, in examination of a landscape painting. Two further assistants stand beside a European gentleman adorned with a black cap and dressed in a Chinese scholar’s long mauve-coloured robe. This particular gentleman is pointing as if in communication with an elderly sage. All amidst a continuous landscape detailed with craggy rocks and a verdant ground within a single gilt line above the base and below the mouth rim. The flat base is incised with the reign mark. 2 3/8 in. (6.1 cm.) high, wood stand. Estimate HK$6,000,000 – HK$8,000,000
Provenance: Alfred E. Hippisley Collection (1848-1939)
J. Insley Blair (1870-1939) and thence by descent to the present owners
Bosses at the Oriental Museum in Elvet Hill, Durham, had hoped to have a solid jade bowl and an 18th Century porcelain figurine back on display before Christmas.
But a delay in the sentencing of those who have admitted responsibility for the theft means they are not now likely to be returned to the museum until February next year at the earliest.
Meanwhile the items, valued at around £2m, remain in protective police custody.
And the identity of the crime master who ordered the audacious heist remains shrouded in mystery.
There was spontaneous applause at Sheppard’s Irish Auction House in Durrow, Co Laois, after the hammer fell on the final bid for a 18th century Chinese Qing Dynasty white jade seal.
The tiny item had been estimated to be worth between €4,000-€6,000 in the catalogue.
However, it attracted huge interest from international buyers.
In the end, two Chinese collectors battled it out for the rare seal – with one bidding on the telephone and the other online.
“There were quite a few Chinese people in the room but in the final shakedown, it was a battle on the internet and the phone,” said auctioneer Philip Sheppard.
“It’s exceptional,” Kashif Khan, managing director of the Ritchies auction house on Bathurst St., said Monday.
Khan credited Sunday’s record-breaking sale of a Qing Dynasty vase to factors that include improved finances and the recent easing of regulations governing ownership of artwork in China.
“Because China has been doing so well economically, they want to buy their stuff back,” he said. Until recently, “they couldn’t afford anything.”
The blue and white “Dragon and Lotus” porcelain vase, which dates to the 1700s, was estimated to sell for $180,000 to $300,000, Khan said.
Emperors often used Chinese dragons to symbolize their imperial power and strength.