Live Auction: 11 July
Hall 1, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre
Sotheby’s Hong Kong Chinese Works of Art Spring Sale Series 2020 on 11 July is proud to present The Harry Garner Reticulated Vase, a lost masterpiece of Chinese porcelain found in a remote European house almost 60 years since it last came to market. Additional highlights include An Extremely Rare and Important Cloisonné Enamel and Gilt-Bronze ‘Monk’s Cap’ Ewer and Cover, Early Ming Dynasty, A Superbly Carved Cinnabar Lacquer 'Pomegranate' Box and Cover, Mark and Period of Yongle, and An Important and Exquisite White Jade 'Chicken Cup', Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period. In addition, the sale series includes a private collection namely Marchant – Fifty Qing Imperial Porcelains, a meticulously selected group of Qing imperial porcelains testifying to the connoisseurship and discerning eye of Richard Marchant, and Monochrome, a themed sale focusing on the timeless elegance of the Chinese works of art.
The strong performance of our auctions in the past two months has demonstrated a sustained market appetite for top quality Chinese works of art and collectors are awaiting our flagship sales in July with great excitement. This season, we are honoured to be entrusted with the sale of The Harry Garner Reticulated Vase, a masterpiece rediscovered in a remote European house almost 60 years since it last came to market. We look forward to offering this treasure together with many top-level works in our much-anticipated auctions in July.
THE HARRY GARNER RETICULATED VASE
This exceptional reticulated vase is a culmination of centuries of ingenuity in Chinese crafts. It takes us from archaic bronzes and jades via Longquan celadon and imperial blue-and-white to Rococo flower design. The matching court record from 1742 indicates that it was made under the supervision of Tang Ying (1682-1756) and praised by the Qianlong Emperor (r. 1736-1795) as a masterwork.
This vase belonged to two major collectors of Chinese art, Sir Harry M. Garner (1891-1977) and Henry M. Knight (1903-1970). This masterpiece ranks amongst the most complex and exquisite porcelains from the Qianlong period ever to have emerged on the market.
AN EXTREMELY RARE AND IMPORTANT CLOISONNÉ ENAMEL AND GILT-BRONZE ‘MONK’S CAP’ EWER AND COVER
China’s emperors supported Tibetan Buddhism already in the Yuan (1279-1368), and in the early Ming dynasty (1368-1644) Tibetan monks were omnipresent at the Chinese court. As the Yongle Emperor (r. 1403-1424) engaged the workshops for court service, he sparked off an unprecedented flowering of the arts, that continued into the Xuande reign (1426-1435), and some of the most spectacular works of the early 15th century executed in these media are items designed for use in Buddhist ceremonies. Cloisonné pieces of the period are, however, exceedingly rare. The present ewer is one of only two examples known to have survived, the other still preserved in Lhasa, Tibet. Such vessels would have made the ultimate imperial gift to a Buddhist dignitary.
This carefully curated sale presents a diverse range of exceptional Chinese artworks ranging from the Neolithic period to the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), all characterised by their timeless aesthetic. From the eternal translucence of jade of the Hongshan culture to the rich warm grain of late Ming huanghuali, the selection will inspire existing and new collectors with an insight into the most refined aesthetic sensibilities of Chinese art.
A lacquer box of this striking beauty, dazzling perfection and massive size would have been an object of awe and admiration even in the early Ming dynasty, when imperial patronage had spurred on China’s artisans to peak performance. Unlike porcelain, carved lacquer ware with its extremely labour-intensive production process, did not lend itself to series production. Hardly any plant is as well suited to be represented in cinnabar lacquer as the vivid red-flowering pomegranate, yet we rarely see them on early Ming carved lacquer wares as a main design.
Edward T. Chow (1910-1980) was one of the most important dealers and collectors of Chinese art of the 20th century. His greatest pride lay in his successful lifelong quest to assemble an unrivalled collection of ‘chicken cups’. The present exquisite jade cup complemented his collection of ‘chicken cups’.
Inspired by the extremely rare and highly sought-after Chenghua (1465-1487) doucai porcelains, the present jade ‘chicken cup’ is unique. Although a handful of vessels with this motif exists, none of them surpasses the current example in terms of the quality of the stone, or the thoughtfulness of its composition.
MARCHANT – FIFTY QING IMPERIAL PORCELAINS
This sale of 50 meticulously selected imperial Qing porcelains is a testament to the connoisseurship and discerning eye of Richard Marchant, who retires this year after 67 years in the business, leaving the renowned dealership Marchant in its 95th year to his eldest son Stuart, the third generation, together with Samuel and Natalie, the fourth generation. The selections encapsulate the firm’s careful attention to quality, condition and provenance.
As a young man, I was attracted to Qing Imperial porcelain in spite of the fact that it was far less popular than Ming porcelain. My appreciation for Qing has continued throughout my life, always focusing on quality, condition and provenance. I trust that this group reflects my love and standards and hope that these pieces find new homes with people who have the same passion as I have.