T he third installment of the Monochrome series presents a diverse range of exceptional artworks characterised by their timeless aesthetic, exemplifying the most refined sensibilities in Chinese art. Highlights of the sale include an important pair of Bodhisattvas carved by imperial sculptors during the era of Empress Wu in the early Tang dynasty. There is also a superb Sui dynasty limestone head of a Bodhisattva, an outstanding Song dynasty Junyao purple-splashed dish, and a large Dingyao ‘fish’ basin. The sale also presents a group of Ming furniture, including a pair of side tables with unusual hexagonal legs, and a selection of archaic jades, highlighted by an Eastern Han dynasty bi disc cherished by the Qianlong Emperor, as well as exquisite examples from the celebrated Hei-Chi collection.
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Intricately carved for the imperial court of the Eastern Han dynasty, this outstanding large archaic jade disc was prized by the Qianlong Emperor, one of the most passionate collectors in Chinese history. It is incised with a poem composed by his majesty and mounted in a superbly carved zitan table screen, which demonstrates its imperial provenance. Similar examples are extremely rare even in the Palace Museums and the present screen is unique on the market.
A finely carved jade buffalo 灰玉圓雕臥牛
Exceptionally worked to conform to the natural contours of the jade pebble, this carving of a buffalo is a remarkable – and arguably unparalleled – example of the craftsmen’s sensibilities and ability to plan and execute down to the finest detail. While bearing the original shape of the pebble, the jade buffalo is veiled with a lustrous patina that only points to its being handled as a plaything over the ages.
An extremely rare large limestone head of a Bodhisattva Sui dynasty
The slender but fleshy face, as well as the high chignon adorned with a Dharma wheel amidst cloud-head clusters, encapsulate the classic style of the Bodhisattva image in the Sui dynasty. In its opulence, the head belongs to a mature phase of Sui artistic production, when craftsmen synthesised styles from within and beyond China into graceful yet dynamic compositions that expressed the transcendental majesty of the Buddhist subject.
An important and magnificent pair of grey limestone figures of Bodhisattvas, Mahasthamaprapta and Avalokiteshvara, Early Tang dynasty, era of Empress Wu Zetian
Closely related in style to a group of high-relief stelae dated to AD 703-704 and dedicated to an imperial pagoda in Chang’an, these graceful Buddhist deities bear testimony to the sculptural style in the era of Empress Wu Zetian, arguably the most powerful woman in Chinese history.
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