NEW YORK - On September 17, Christie’s New York will start its spectacular trilogy of Chinese Art sales with the single-owner sale Important Chinese Snuff Bottles from the J&J Collection, Part V followed by Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art and an evening session will be devoted to Masterworks of Ancient and Imperial China, offering extraordinary works of art from various periods. The three sales of over 500 lots, include superb sculptures, bronzes, ceramics, jade objects and furniture, and are expected to realize in excess of $21,000,000.
Joe-Hynn Yang, Head of Christie’s Chinese Works of Art, New York, comments, “We are honored to present three exceptional sales for Christie's Asian Art Week this Fall. We are particularly pleased to offer a select group of 51 works, Masterworks of Ancient and Imperial China, which includes many pieces that are not only fresh to the field but also with exceptional provenance and publication history. The fifth installment of Important Chinese Snuff Bottles from the J&J Collection will include superbly crafted snuff bottles ranging from classic stylized motifs to traditional mythical symbols. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art offers magnificent works of art from all major dynasties in China and also features Property of the Ping Y. Tai Foundation. All three sales provide an excellent opportunity for collectors to acquire works from significant private collections.”
Important Chinese Snuff Bottles from the J&J Collection, Part V
After the successful results of The J&J Collection Part IV in March 2007, which realized $2.9 million, Christie’s New York will present Part V on 17 September, offering 88 superb examples of this charming miniature art form from this well-established and exceptionally fine collection. Highlights include a very rare rose enamelled double-gourd glass bottle (estimate: $400,000-500,000), attributed to the Palace workshops in Beijing (1736-1780); an exceptional Imperial Beijing enamel snuff bottle decorated with a woman and child (left image on page one- estimate: $220,000-300,000) and an exquisite and unusual jade pebble snuff bottle of the Suzhou School (1680-1780) (estimate: $90,000-120,000).
Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art
11am & 2:30pm
Christie’s New York continues the day with Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art in two sale sessions. The sale features over 350 objects of Chinese art from different periods, styles and techniques as well as a fine group of ceramics and bronzes from the Property of the Ping Y. Tai Foundation.
Property of the Ping Y. Tai Foundation will offer a selection of 35 archaic bronzes and ceramics which date from the Shang Dynasty (c.1600 to 1100 BC) through the 20th century. The exceptional lot from the Ping Y. Tai Foundation is the extremely rare Early Ming "sweet white" vase, Meiping, Yongle period (1403-1425) (estimate: $600,000-800,000).
Leading the rest of the sale is an extraordinary yellow-ground green enameled ‘Dragon’ vase from a New England Collection ($600,000-800,000). The vase, one of the fewer than six vases known worldwide, has the distinctive Qianlong six-character sealmark (1736-1795) and is executed in rich color tones featuring a lively fiveclawed dragon, enameled in emerald-green and egg-yolk yellow colors. Also with the Qianlong six-character seal mark is a cloisonné enamel tripod censer and cover (right image on page 1- estimate: $120,000-150,000). This large imperial incense burner is particulary noteworthy with its delicate design of gilt-copper lion masks, large and small flowers and for bearing the mark of the Qianlong Emperor.
Sculpture plays an important part in the sales this season, with rare limestone and bronze examples made with extraordinary craftsmanship. Of distinct note is gilt-bronze model of a pagoda, from Yunnan, Dali Kingdom (12-13th Century) (estimate: $120,000-150,000). It is a striking twelve-story pagoda with a figure of a seated Buddha positioned between the four guardian figures representing the Four Heavenly Kings. Two limestone items from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) include a very dark grey limestone relief carving of Lokapala - a powerful, muscular guardian (estimate: $40,000-60,000), and a limestone head of Buddha possibly from the Longmen Caves (estimate: $30,000-50,000). A centerpiece of
the furniture section is an imperial zitan incense stand, Fangxiangji, of the 18th Century (estimate: $150,000-180,000). The purple-toned stand is beautifully carved along the edges with floral scroll and lotus petals throughout the body and legs. Zitan is an extremely rare and expensive wood and it is prized for its hard, dense, and tight-grained quality.
The sale also features an exceptionally rare blue and white moonflask with the Yongzheng six-character seal mark (1723-1736) (estimate: $300,000-400,000). The unusual moonflask shape is well painted in early Ming style along with a gorgeous design of three fruiting and flowering branches. Also, a fine pair of white jade bowls of the 18th century (estimate: $120,000-150,000) present an example of the meticulous selection of highly transparent, even, and flawless white jade. With recent heightened interest in white jade, this fine pair should attract keen bidding, particularly given their provenance from a French private collection circa 1990s.
Masterworks of Ancient and Imperial China
The day will conclude with an evening session of 51 outstanding lots, Masterworks of Ancient and Imperial China, which offers archaic bronzes, exceptional jades, and stone sculptures, and is expected to realize in excess of $8 million.
Highlighting the archaic bronzes section is an exquisite bronze ritual wine vessel, Zun, Shang Dynasty, 14-13th Century BC (estimate: $500,000-700,000). This Zun is a fine example of its type, with elegant proportions and a unified decorative scheme. Unusual and intriguing is a magnificent painted bronze goose-form lamp, western Han Dynasty, 2nd Century BC (estimate: $400,000-600,000). “Smokeless” lamps such as this one were supported within the outer depression of the oil holder with a short central pricket that opens into the back of the goose. Smoke would have risen up the goose’s head through the neck and into cool water held in the body.
The auction also features a strong group of jades from several private collections, such as Property from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul E. Manheim and an Important Asian Collection including a rare and important pair of imperial white jade boxes and covers, Qianlong period (1736-1795) (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000). The covers are finely carved with large flower heads and the boxes are raised on enameled gilt bronze stands formed by six stylized dragons on the end. Equally distinctive is a magnificent imperial white jade table screen, Qianlong Period (1736-1795) (estimate: $500,000-700,000). The rectangular panel is carved with great detail in high relief, of a scholar set in the mountains by a lake and a large gnarled pine tree, all beneath an incised imperial poem.
In the stone sculpture section, the sale boasts sculptures from famous caves such as Yungang and Tianlongshan. A beautiful highlight of this group is a magnificent sandstone head of Buddha of the Yungang caves, Shanxi Province, Northern Wei Dynasty (386-534) (estimate: $250,000-350,000). With a well carved face detailing a dimpled chin and a gentle smile, it was exhibited by Yamanaka & Company in Osaka, Japan, as early as 1934. A rare and important sandstone head of Buddha, Northern Qi Dynasty (549-577), from the Tianlongshan Caves of Shanxi Province (estimate: $200,000-300,000) can be traced back to its original location in the west wall of cave 10, and has an impressive provenance. It was sold from Yamanaka & Company in New York in 1943, and has been in the famous collection of Walter and Molly Bareiss, Connecticut, since the 1960s.
An outstanding Cizhou green-glazed painted baluster vase is a testament to the craftsmanship of the potters during the Song/Jin Dynasty, 12th Century (estimate: $600,000-800,000). The shape, richness of the green glaze, and the decorative scheme of two leafy peony sprays with incised details all add to its overall beauty. It was formerly in a private Japanese collection since the 1980s. An important and very significant pair of imperial bronze altar vases provides an example of the outstanding quality achieved at the Imperial Foundry Workshops, Zaobanchu, in Beijing, during the Qianlong reign (549-577) (estimate: $500,000-700,000). Each vase is very heavily and crisply cast in relief with a dense pattern of archaizing dragons. The sale also features an important and unique large gilt-copper dragon plague of the Liao dynasty (907-1125) (image left- estimate: $250,000-350,000). The powerful yet elegant dragon is cast with a roaring open mouth, a pair of sweptback horns, a windblown mane, and short spines along the backbone leading to the long tail, and may represent the Green Dragon of the East.