Highlighted By An Exceptional Qing Imperial Inscribed White Jade Ruyi Sceptre
Estimated at HK$60 – 100 Million/ US$7.7 – 13 Million
Arguably the Finest Imperial Sceptre Ever Made for a Chinese Ruler
Hong Kong Preview
7-12 Oct 2021
Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre
12-13 October 2021
Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery
5F, One Pacific Place
Hong Kong, 15 September 2021 This October, Sotheby’s will present a selection from the De An Tang collection, the finest collection of Qing dynasty carvings ever to come to market, highlighted by a unique white jade ruyi sceptre (estimated at HK$60,000,000 – 100,000,000/ US$7,700,000 – 12,800,000), carved with a dragon and an imperial poem from the 37th year of the Qianlong period (1772), encapsulating the power and authority of the Emperor. The sale series also brings together a number of important private collections including: Qing Imperial Porcelain from the Yidetang Collection, Chinese Buddhist Gilt-Bronzes from the Jane and Leopold Swergold Collection, Chinese lacquer from The Baoyizhai Collection and more.
Following the success of the two imperial jade seals sold for a combined total of HK$189 million earlier this year, this autumn Sotheby’s is privileged to present a group of Qing imperial jade carvings from the De An Tang alongside other treasures from distinguished collections worldwide, rivalling the holdings of the most important museum collections across fields as diverse as imperial porcelain, lacquer and early Buddhist art
The De An Tang Collection of Jade: The Finest Collection of Qing Dynasty Jade Carvings Ever Comes to Market
The Important Chinese Art auction opens with a selection of exceptional jade carvings from the De An Tang collection which was assembled over two decades. The De An Tang is the only private collection ever to have been exhibited in the Forbidden City, at the Yongshou Palace in 2004, attracting the attention of jade lovers, scholars and collectors from around the world. Sotheby’s will offer over 30 pieces from the collection this season, led by an exceptional Qing imperial Inscribed White Jade Ruyi Sceptre.
Since the dawn of human civilisation, sceptres have been universally used as potent symbols of authority and sovereignty. Sceptres were wielded by rulers from Babylon and ancient Egypt and continue to be used to this day.
The present white jade ruyi sceptre, made 250 years ago, is arguably the finest example ever made for a Chinese ruler. It was dedicated to and admired by the Qianlong Emperor, the most powerful man living on earth in the 18th century. Ingeniously conceived and skillfully executed, the sceptre is dominated by an ascending imperial dragon in pursuit of the flaming pearl of wisdom elevated by a sprig of longevity fungus (lingzhi). In terms of its size, material and quality of carving, it ranks alongside the finest examples from the Qing court collection preserved in Beijing and Taipei.
The flawless quality of the stone parallels the masterful carving. The date of the poem inscribed on the piece corresponds to 1772, a period of significant growth in the field of jade carving following the conquest of Xinjiang which supplied jade boulders as tribute to the court. Although the Qianlong Emperor may have owned thousands of ruyi sceptres, seldom did he express his admiration as clearly as in the last two verses of the inscription poem in praise of the sceptre: “This ruyi sceptre is truly excellent, I scrupulously revere it with dignity and respect.”
More highlights from the De An Tang collection
The Three Emperors: Imperial Porcelain of the Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong Reigns from the Yidetang Collection
In this tightly curated selection from the Yidetang collection, Sotheby’s presents exquisite Imperial wares from the hundred years that span from the late 17th to the late 18th century, the apex of material refinement in China’s long dynastic history. For the late master of Yidetang, the fundamental tenets of collecting were rooted in history and craftsmanship and, most of all, a quest for Imperial taste specifically that of the three great emperors of the Qing dynasty. The selection includes very fine porcelains from the collection in a variety of styles, whether blue-and-white, monochrome, doucai or famille-rose decoration.
Reflection and Enlightenment: Chinese Buddhist Gilt-Bronzes from the Jane and Leopold Swergold Collection
Arguably the finest of its category, the brilliant gilt-bronze sculptures collected by Jane and Leopold Swergold provide a window into a glorious period of China’s illustrious history, when the Silk Road opened up a channel to foreign influences. Each of the 25 bronze sculptures in the collection are unique works of art in themselves, endowed with the dynamic elasticity of movement emanating from the sensitivity of the Indian tradition. As a group, they also encapsulate the development, sinicization and maturity of Chinese sculptural art.
Sotheby's Hong Kong Autumn Sales 2021
Date: 7 – 13 October 2021
Venue: Sotheby’s Gallery, 5/F One Pacific Place, Admiralty, Hong Kong