Rare treasures from French and European private collections are at the heart of the Sotheby’s Paris Arts d’Asie sale on June 22.
Important Chinese jades from the collection of Madame Djahanguir Riahi lead the sale. Collected with a keen eye for quality and rarity, these fine examples of mostly 18th century jades have not been seen on the market since they were acquired in the late 1960s. They include a wonderful 18th century spinach-green jade table screen formerly in the collection of Robert C. Bruce and exhibited in the 1935 International Exhibition of Chinese Art in London, and a magnificent 18th century spinach-green jade brushpot, boldly carved with scholars celebrating life.
From another French private collection comes a superb Imperial pale celadon jade 'Hetian peach and crane' ruyi-sceptre, inscribed with a poem by the Qianlong emperor, and dedicated to the Empress dowager on her 82th birthday in 1773. It is one of the few if not the only example known to have been dedicated to the Empress dowager Chongqing, mother of the Qianlong emperor, and possibly gifted as part of the elaborate ceremonies during the 'Vast Longevity' festival celebrating her 82th birthday.
Other highlights include a fine and rare gilt-bronze and cloisonné enamel vase dated to the later part of the 16th century. Inspired by a vase of similar shape used in Buddhist rituals, the origins of this vase can be traced back to the 15th century. Only a handful of related examples are known and can be found in museum and private collections.
Similarly rare is a carved cinnabar and ochre lacquer box originally used to contain ‘spirit tables’. Superbly carved and detailed, the cover is decorated with the entire Buddhist canon presided over by Maitreya, the Buddha of the future. Two almost identical examples of such boxes carry the mark of the Qianlong emperor suggesting that this box too may have been an Imperial commission.