NEW YORK - The Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale preview in New York began on Friday, 15th March.  Turnout was more than we expected for the first day of a preview and we were kept on our feet all day long.  On the second day, despite the heavy snowfall and the St Patrick’s Day parade, an additional table had to be brought out half way through the day to accommodate all the clients wishing to view the ceramics.


View of the Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art preview on the 5th floor of Sotheby’s New York.  Auction to be held 19th & 20th March 2013.




View of the Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art preview on the 5th floor of Sotheby’s New York.  Auction to be held 19th & 20th March 2013.


One question I was asked a number of times during the preview, and usually get asked during every sale, is ‘which is your favorite lot?’

My taste usually tends towards a late Qing style and palette.  Back in the late 1990s there was a textile collector in the San Francisco Bay area who would proudly declare that she was a ‘Late Qing girl’ and I would joke that I was a ‘Late Qing boy’.  Back then ‘Late Qing’ was not thought of too highly.  Times have certainly changed as prices realized for late Qing pieces indicate.





I also have a fondness for Buddhist and Daoist art. In this sale, I am drawn towards lot 12, An Important Gilt-bronze Votive Stele of Guanyin, Northern Wei Dynasty, dated to the reign of Taihe corresponding to 484 AD.


Lot 12, An Important Gilt-bronze Votive Stele of Guanyin, Northern Wei Dynasty, dated to the reign of Taihe corresponding to 484 AD, Estimate $200,000-300,000.


The figure is quite small, only 6 1/8 inches tall, and depicts Guanyin as the lotus bearer. I am drawn to it because of the inscription on the back which may be translated as ‘Commissioned by Ding Li and Ding Fu, two of six brothers, the family numbering sixteen in all, with the sincere desire that they be reunited in the presence of the Buddha.’  The back of the stand is inscribed with the date and continues ‘Ding Zhu of Leling County had this image of Guanyin made to commemorate their deceased father.’

The Northern Wei period was a time of great turbulence and social upheaval. It was a time when the northern part of the country was occupied and ruled by foreign invaders.  One can imagine the difficult lives that people led.  It was during these arduous times that Buddhism became firmly established in the north of China, as people sought solace in religion, hoping to be reborn in better circumstances.  This figure was commissioned to commemorate the deceased father of the Ding brothers (three of which are named in the inscriptions), and also to gain merit for the family, with that hope that they will all be reunited in the next life.



View of the Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art preview on the 5th floor of Sotheby’s New York.  Auction to be held 19th & 20th March 2013.


The inscription tells me that family ties were strong and that the brothers were close. In troubled times, large families could easily get separated and communication and reunification would not have been easy.  When I see this piece, it makes me think of my family, as my father also has six brothers, and I just do not make it home often enough.  My grandfather had seven brothers, and his generation lived though some difficult times.  Part of the family stayed in China, weathering the war with Japan, the civil war and the Cultural Revolution, while part left for Singapore and faced their own challenges.  Although they did not see each other again, they were close in spirit.  This desire to be reunited and to remember loved ones is part of the reason such gilt-bronze Buddhist images were made.

More than just a religious image, this figures tells the story of familial bonds, love and hope, as true and strong today as they were back when it was made.

標籤紐約, Auction Previews, 中國藝術品