NEW YORK, 24 September 2020 – Sotheby’s bi-annual Asia Week sale series in New York achieved $36.4 million this week – significantly above the series’ high estimate of $29.1 million, and all sales surpassing their high estimates. Works from this season’s sales were sold to a diverse group of collectors worldwide, highlighted by An Exceptionally Rare and Important Gold, Silver and Glass-Embellished Bronze Vessel, which achieved $8.3 million following a 12-minute bidding battle and was the top selling lot of the week. Below is a summary of the works and collections that drove these results.
Angela McAteer, Sotheby’s Head of Chinese Works of Art Department in New York, commented: “We are thrilled with the results from this week’s sales of Chinese Works of Art. The strong results demonstrated the powerful and continued strength of the Chinese art market, and showcases the extraordinary array of works offered across categories– including Kangxi porcelain; Chinese jades; early ritual metalwork; Buddhist bronzes and more – most of which have not been seen by the market for many decades. We saw active and deep bidding activity across sales, representing a truly international clientele. It was especially exciting to once again hold our Asia Week sales in our New York salesroom, and we look forward to continued success in March next year.”
Anu Ghosh-Mazumdar, Sotheby’s Head of Indian & Southeast Asian Art Department in New York, said: “As we commemorate our 35th year of Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Works of Art sales in New York, we were proud to present a sale of exceptional works, led by a discovery piece - A Gilt Copper Figure Of Avalokiteshvara formerly in the legendary collection of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller and emerging for the first time in nearly a century. We are delighted that this masterpiece will now occupy pride of place in a distinguished private collection. Throughout the sale, we saw active bidding from across the world, and yesterday’s success indicated the market’s support for high quality artwork.”
KANGXI PORCELAIN – A PRIVATE COLLECTION
Auction Total: $4.5 Million
The exquisite collection of Kangxi porcelain kicked off Asia Week with a thrilling start, as the first three works offered each generously exceeded their high estimated by multiple times, and saw deep bidding activity for each lot. The auction achieved $4.5 million – exceeding its high estimate of $3.1 million.
The group was led by A Rare Peachbloom-Glazed 'Chrysanthemum' Vase, which fetched $746,000 – nearly five times its high estimate of $150,000. Known as juban ping, 'chrysanthemum petal vase', this piece is remarkable for its well-balanced form and delicate rose-pink glaze. The technological and artistic advances created during the Kangxi reign at the imperial kilns in Jingdezhen are illustrated in the present vase. Of all the innovative forms developed in the Kangxi period, chrysanthemum vases were perhaps the most influential, as they inspired the numerous chrysanthemum-shaped vessels of the succeeding Yongzheng reign.
JUNKUNC: CHINESE JADE CARVINGS
Auction Total: $6.3 Million
A selection of more than 60 jades on offer from the renowned collection of Stephen Junkunc, III achieved $6.3 million, surpassing the auction’s $5 million high estimate. The sale marks the continued success of the Junkunc Collection, which has raised over $28 million across Sotheby’s auctions since 2018.
Following an eight-minute bidding battle, an exceedingly rare Large Yellow and Russet Jade Carving of a Mythical Beast realized $1.7 million – more than five times its high estimate of $300,000. Outstanding for the playful yet dynamic rendering of the mythical beast and its impressive size, this carving successfully captures the supernatural vitality of the creature. The notched spine and muscular body which is poised as though ready for action, along with the pronounced eyes and curled features such as its beard, tail and ears, display the technical expertise of its carver. Highly tactile in its smooth finish and impeccably modeled in the round, this carving would have been particularly favored by the jade connoisseur.
INDIAN, HIMALAYAN & SOUTHEAST ASIAN WORKS OF ART
Auction Total: $3.3 Million
The afternoon closed with a thoughtfully curated collection of superlative examples of Himalayan sculpture, superb Southeast Asian & Indian sculptures, and fine Indian miniature paintings, totaling $3.3 million. The auction was led by A Gilt Copper Figure of Avalokiteshvara dating to the 9/10th-century from Nepal that achieved $830,700 – surpassing its $500,000 high estimate. A rare discovery piece, the work appeared on the market for the first time in nearly a century, after it was last acquired by Abby Aldrich Rockefeller in 1922. Other highlights in the sale included an exquisitely carved 12th Century Pala stone sculpture of Surya from a private Japanese Collection that soared past its $50,000 high estimate and sold for $126,000. A beautifully crafted 17th Century Tibetan silver image of the revered Fifth Sharmapa shattered its $50,000 high estimate to achieve a price of $252,000. Indian paintings in the sale performed particularly well, with a rare 18th Century scene of A Nawab and his Retainers in Procession from Murshidabad selling for $88,200 against its $50,000 low estimate and a similarly rare, large 18th Century watercolor of the View of the River Ganges near Currah by artist William Daniell which sailed past its $60,000 high estimate to achieve $100,800.
IMPORTANT CHINESE ART
Auction Total: $22.4 Million
This season’s various-owner sale of Important Chinese Art totaled $22.4 million – well-exceeding its $16.9 million high estimate. The auction was led by An Exceptionally Rare and Important Gold, Silver and Glass-Embellished Bronze Vessel, which sold to applause for $8.3 million – more than double its $3.5 million high estimate, following a 12-minute bidding battle between five bidders. Individually designed and likely created for a royal patron, the present fang hu was formerly in the collection of Belgian industrialist, banker and famous art collector Adolphe Stoclet. Representing the peak of luxury in the Warring States period, vessels decorated in the most ambitious and flamboyant style ever devised for Chinese bronzes are so exceedingly rare that the technique is virtually unknown, and almost nothing has been published about this important aspect of the bronze craft, since examples are impossible to see. The present bronze is therefore of major importance for the history of Chinese bronzes, metal technology, and glass making.
THE HUNDRED ANTIQUES: FINE & DECORATIVE ASIAN ART
Auction 18 – 29 September
Open for bidding online from 18 – 29 September, The Hundred Antiques: Fine & Decorative Asian Art features over 170 Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian works of art and paintings. Spanning centuries, highlights include a group of famille-noire porcelains formerly in the collection of John D. Rockefeller, Jr. and deaccessioned by a Southern institution, led by a Famille-Noire 'Bird And Flower' Pear-Shaped Vase (pictured right, estimate $8/12,000); Qing dynasty glass from a California private collection, led by a Royal Blue Faceted Glass Jar and Cover (estimate $4/6,000); ‘hongmu’ furniture from the J.T. Tai & Co. Foundation, led by 'Hongmu' And Burlwood Scroll Back Armchair (estimate $3/5,000), a rare Tang dynasty gilt-bronze Buddhist figure (estimate $5/7,000), and a Qing dynasty 19th century gilt-copper stupa (estimate $1,500/2,000).