T he Important Chinese Art auction presents a tightly curated sale including masterworks spanning five millennia, from the Neolithic period through to the Qing dynasty. The highlight is a recently discovered superb Yongzheng period puce-enamelled falangcai ‘dragon’ vase, which ranks among the largest porcelains ever to have been enamelled at the imperial workshops in Beijing - an unimaginable feat had it not been recorded in the court archives.
Sotheby’s will also present a group of archaic bronzes and gold works of art which passed through the hands of the esteemed dealer, Giuseppe Eskenazi; over 80 archaic jades from the Robert and Cissy Tang collection; exceptional jades from the De An Tang collection including a massive green jade seal from the Qianlong period bearing the seal face tian'en baxun zhi bao, which was extensively impressed on imperial paintings; and a selected group of Jun ware from the Beixuan Shuzhai collection which is led by an early Ming dynasty hexafoil flowerpot, formerly in the T.Y. Chao Family Trust Collection.
Extraordinarily enamelled win a deep puce enamel with two powerful dragons, this magnificent vase ranks among the most important and largest porcelains ever to have been enamelled at the Imperial workshops in the Forbidden City in Beijing. Corroborated by the imperial court archives to have been completed in 1732 – a mere two months after the Yongzheng Emperor disapproved of the blurriness on a copper-red vase, the vase testifies to not only the craftsmen’s unrelentless will to innovate and please the Emperor but also the unparalleled culmination of technical virtuosity during the Yongzheng reign.
50 Years New in Asia: From Inside the Forbidden City, an Imperial ‘Dragon’ Vase
The sale includes other important Chinese works of art, such as a monumental limestone head of Vairocana Buddha from the height of the Tang dynasty, a well-published Northern Song dynasty black-glazed 'vortex' jar, a rare Xuande blue and white 'fish pond' brush washer formerly in the Alfred and Ivy Clark collection, and a unique early Qianlong period blue and white 'nine dragon' meiping.
Masterpieces tracing back to the genesis of Chinese civilisation this season include an exceptional and very rare group of archaic bronzes and gold works of art dealt through the hands of Eskenazi, each piece embodying the technical sophistication and historical significance that have proven increasingly sought-after in recent years. Notable highlights include a powerfully cast Shang dynasty bronze ritual wine vessel and cover, you, from the Xinyu period, that showcases a very rare combination of both the iconic you form and the archetypal taotie design, embodying the high and mature ‘Anyang’ style that flourished from the mid-Shang period. It is further endowed with a provenance and publication history that can be traced back to as early as the first half of the 20th century.
The Robert and Cissy Tang collection of Chinese jades ranks among the finest and most renowned jades in private hands, and the 88 archaic jades on offer this season showcase the discerning eye and connoisseurship of Robert Tang that guided his collecting journey spanning almost four decades. Highlights include an outstanding jade ‘bird’ ornament from the mid-late Shang dynasty. Rendered with a tall crest and worked with the finest details, the relatively large ornament, veiled with a lustrous patina, has continued to embody the spiritual and/or ruling power for over three millennia.
The De An Tang is the only private collection of jades ever to have been exhibited in the Forbidden City, at the Yongshou Palace in 2004, and highlights include a magnificent Qianlong Khotan-green jade 'tian'en baxun zhi bao' seal and a superb Yongzheng imperial white jade 'prunus' teapot.
The Beixuan Shuzhai Collection spans a history of more than 40 years. In addition to the Collection’s master’s great fondness of imperial porcelain and works of art from the Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong Emperors of the midQing period, as showcased in the single-owner sale of his collection in these rooms in Spring 2015, he also holds in high regard monochrome wares of the Song - Yuan dynasties. His Jun ware collection, featured in the book by renowned scholar Qin Dashu, comprises carefully and well selected pieces demonstrating his discerning eye and connoisseurship. Sotheby’s is honoured to have the privilege to present eight gems from the group, each varying in shape, size, and colour.