The Asian Art sale in Paris will include extraordinary Buddhist works from the Qing dynasty, including a spectacular imperial bianzhong temple bell made during the reign of Emperor Kangxi (1662-1722), marked and dated 1713, a gilt-bronze figure of Amitayus from the same period and three imperial tangkas from the Qianlong period (1736-1795), one with a very rare portrait of Rolpay Dorje, the leading Buddhist scholar of the 18th century and tutor to Emperor Qianlong.
The sale will also feature a selection of Chinese modern paintings acquired by three eminent private collectors: a French diplomat who bought works in Beijing in the 1960s, led by a Landscape by Huang Binhong (1864-1955), Swiss collector Eric Vuilleumier, who also bought paintings in the 1960s, with Banana Leaves by Qi Baishi (1864-1957) and a collector from the south of France, with six paintings by Zhao Shao’Ang (1905-1998).
For the first time in Paris, Sotheby’s will have the honour of offering items from the important L. & Y. Laufer Collection of Japanese netsuke, acquired from top European dealers and at auction since the 1950s. It includes items in both ivory and wood, among them a unique boxwood netsuke signed Kaigyoku portraying an array of sea creatures.
With 90.7% of lots sold by value, the Asian Art auction at Sotheby’s Paris today recorded one of the highest-ever value selling-rates for a Sotheby’s sale of Asian Art in the French capital. These results reflect a strong Asian Art market with a healthy outlook – a market able to attract numerous bidders keen to contest exceptional works that come fresh to the market or endowed with a venerable provenance.
The sale’s 20th century Chinese paintings aroused great interest – as is increasingly the case in Paris, especially when they originate from French or European private collections, like the 22 works offered here. The two works in greatest demand were both by Qi Baishi: his Three Pigeons flew to €348,750 ($459,387), the day’s second-highest price (lot 246, est. €30,000-40,000*); while his Chrysanthemums unfurled at €204,750 ($317.126) (lot 237, est. €60,000-80,000).
Buddhist works of art lived up to expectations, with an exceptional Qing Dynasty gilt-bronze figure of Amitayus incrusted with pietradura (Kangxi Period, 1662-1722) landing the sale’s top price of €816,750 ($1,075,856) (lot 104, est. €300,000-400,000). All three imperial Qianlong thangkas (1736-95) from the former Willem van Heusden Collection cleared top estimate, led by a portrait of Changkya Hutuktu Rolpai Dorje that soared past its €50,000 top-estimate to €228,750 ($301,319) (lot 30).