Lot 511, A Rare Imperial Brown Embroidered Semi-Formal Dragon-Robe (Jifu), Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period. Estimate $120,000-180,000 – to be offered during the Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art sale, 17 Sep 2014, New York.

NEW YORK - While I long had been aware of Norma Canelas Roth’s all consuming passion for collecting in an astounding spectrum of areas of interest, including Chinese dress, nothing prepared me for a meeting with Norma and her husband William at their warehouse in Florida. In a space that would be the envy of many medium-sized museums, the Roth’s monumental collection occupies nearly every available wall, flat surface and most of the floor space—often reaching to the 15-foot ceilings.


Lot 512, A Rare Imperial Yellow Empress' Kesi Semi-Formal Robe (Jifu), Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period. Estimate $150,000-250,000 – to be offered during the Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art sale, 17 Sep 2014, New York.

Racks of rolled storage, shelves and drawers filled with beaded purses, samplers, stacks of large acid-free boxes with costumes from Asia, Latin America and Africa, Contemporary paintings, historical furniture, folk art and African sculpture in room-like arrangements, but nearly every flat surface holding another trove: stacks wallpaper sample books, Ndebele beadwork, a collection of fetish figures.  An amazing range of ceramics, glass and metalwork fills cabinets and shelves. A much beloved collection of headdresses from around the world occupies pride of place near the tables and shelves of record books and a major library that is the heart of this working collection.


(left) Lot 513, An Imperial Apricot-Yellow Kesi Dragon Robe (Jifu) Qing Dynasty, 19th Century. Estimate $25,000-35,000; (right) Lot 514, An Imperial Apricot-Yellow Embroidered Four-Symbol Dragon Robe, Qing Dynasty, Guangxu Period. Estimate $20,000-30,000 – both lots to be offered during the Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art sale, 17 Sep 2014, New York.

Casting an eye around the 15,000+ collection, Norma confesses she caught the collecting bug “early and hard.” “As a child, I collected seashells, then stamps, dolls and by the time I was studying art history, I was collecting art.” After graduating she spent three years in the late 1960s teaching American history first in segregated schools, then in integrated ones. She married and divorced; then married her soul mate, William Roth, and “totally changed his life.”


(left) Lot 522, A Lady’s Informal Kesi Court Robe, Qing Dynasty, 19th Century. Estimate $6,000-8,000;  (right) A Manchu Lady’s Informal Kesi Vest, Qing Dynasty, 19th Century. Estimate $8,000-12,000 – both lots to be offered during the Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art sale, 17 Sep 2014, New York.

“This,” she gestures “began in the late 1970s when Bill and I went to New York and started visiting galleries.” They were introduced to the work of Pattern and Decoration Movement (also known as P&D) artists Miriam Schapiro, Joyce Kozloff, Robert Zakanitch, Tony Robbins and others. As they purchased P&D works, the Roths got to know the artists. Discussions about inspiration and motivation, diversity, color, decoration, women’s movement, and travel, led to recommendations to visit museums to see stuff—Japanese kimono at Japan Society, Manchu costume at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, African art at Jim Camp’s gallery in Soho, Pre-Columbian material at the Brooklyn Museum.  Norma and Bill bought books and embarked on a new education in art and history so different from what Norma studied at university.


Lot 515, An Imperial Yellow Kesi Twelve-Symbol Semi-Formal Dragon Robe (Jifu) Qing Dynasty, Tongzhi Period. Estimate $100,000-150,000 – to be offered during the Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art sale, 17 Sep 2014, New York.

Norma was drawn to textiles. Although often overlooked as “women’s work.” Norma discovered “Fabrics express vital information about society. It may be basic or complex, but all of it is vital historical information and is technically superb in its time consuming and highly skillful execution.” Beginning in 1983 with a trip to London Norma purchased 17 Chinese robes from Marilyn Garrow in Liberty’s basement. Bill wanted to know “what are you going to do with them?”


(left)Lot 516, An Imperial Lady's Padded Kesi Dragon Surcoat (Longgua), Qing Dynasty, 19th Century. Estimate $15,000-25,000; (right) Lot 521, An Embroidered Gauze Lady's Surcoat (Jiagua) Qing Dynasty, 19th Century. Estimate $6,000-8,000 – both lots to be offered during the Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art sale, 17 Sep 2014, New York.

Over the years Norma has loved them, studied them, shared her knowledge about them, lent pieces to exhibitions, become great friends with a wide range of dealers, curators, artists, scholars and “just interesting people” and simply been inspired by them. “The Chinese robes collection now numbers over 500 pieces; the Japanese textile collection is about 750 pieces; while African beadwork numbers in the many thousands.”


(left) Lot 517, A Rare Embroidered Formal Winter Dragon Robe (Chaopao), Qing Dynasty, 19th Century. Estimate $20,000-30,000; (right) Lot 523, A Rare Embroidered Formal Dragon Robe (Chaopao), Qing Dynasty, Mid 19th Century. Estimate $20,000-30,000 – both lots to be offered during the Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art sale, 17 Sep 2014, New York.

When asked why she is selling these treasures now, Norma, who with her husband has been recognized as top 100 collectors in America by Art+Auction Magazine, replied: “We are not going to live forever. It is time to focus on the future after a lifetime’s joy of acquiring and learning and to send some of our treasurers back into the larger world. It is my hope new owners of these robes will love and respect them and share some of the delight they have brought Bill and me.”


Lot 526, A Rare Yellow Embroidered Daoist Priest's Robe (Jiangyi) Qing Dynasty, 19th Century. Estimate $25,000-35,000 – to be offered during the Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art sale, 17 Sep 2014, New York.

標籤Auctions, 紐約, 中國藝術品, Collections