Record Paris Asian Art Sale Achieves €30 million

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T he June Asian Art sales series achieved a record total of almost €30 ($35,4) million, three times the June 2017 result, making it the highest total ever for an Asian art sales series in France.

Led by an extraordinarily rare 18th century Imperial vase that was discovered in a French attic and that was sold for a record €16.2 million after a 20 minute bidding frenzy, the three different sales also realized new records for rare Chinese works on paper, among them a rubbing of a stele inscription dating to the First Emperor of China.

Click ahead to find out more about works from this year and previous Asian art sales in Paris.

Our next dedicated Asian Art sale in Paris will be held on December 12 and our specialists are currently inviting consignments for this sale. For further information please contact Caroline Schulten, Caroline.Schulten@sothebys.com

Record Paris Asian Art Sale Achieves €30 million

  • A Fine and Magnificent Imperial 'Yangcai Crane-and-Deer Ruyi Vase', Six-Character Iron-Red,
    Qianlong Seal Mark and Period.
    Sold for €16,182,800.
    Record for a porcelain sold in France.

    The wonderful vase offered in our sale was discovered accidentally in the attic of a house in the French countryside where it had been long forgotten. It had been left to the great-grandparents of the present owners by an uncle and appears among the listed contents of his Paris apartment after he passed away in 1947. Interestingly, the only other vase of this shape and similar design is now in the collection of the Musée Guimet, Paris, acquired by Ernest Grandidier about the same time, around 1890.
  • Poems of Empress Yang,
    Assembled by Qian Fu, Calligraphy in Regular Script, Ink on Paper,
    Album of Twelve Leaves, and With Twenty-Nine Collectiors' Seals Eight Colophons by Huang Yulie, Zhao Liewen et al., and with Six Seals.
    Sold for €2,465,450.
    Originally part of a large and important collection of Chinese art that was formed in China in the early decades of the 20th century, it totalled €10.6 million - an auction record for a collection of Chinese paintings in Europe.

    The most sought-after consisted of "regulated" poems by Empress Yang, assembled by Qian Fu, with 34 collectors' stamps.
  • A Rubbing of the Taishan Twenty-Nine Character Stele Ink Rubbed on Paper, Hanging Scroll, and With Eleven Collectors' Seals Title Slip by Wu Jun, and with One Seal Five Frontispieces by Duan Fang, Yang Shoujing, Li Baoxun, Zhang Yu Et Wang Guan, and With Five Seals.
    Sold for €1,929,000.

    Originally part of a large and important collection of Chinese art that was formed in China in the early decades of the 20th century, it totalled €10.6 million - an auction record for a collection of Chinese paintings in Europe.

    One of the most important pieces in this collection with a Duan Fang provenance. Extremely rare to find a rubbing of the Taishan stele with twenty-nine characters.
  • A rare and superbly carved zitan 'dragon' cabinet,
    Qing Dynasty, Qianlong period.
    Sold for €393,000.

    Constructed with thick panels made entirely from zitan wood, this large cabinet, originally the upper part of a compound cabinet, has two front doors, each installed on either side with gilt-bronze plates which are decorated with dragons amongst clouds and waves. The doorpulls, on the other hand, are decorated in low relief with bats and chimes. The two doors are deeply carved in relief with dragons writhing among scrolling clouds, all above various treasures further surrounded by waves and rugged rocks. Each door features two confronting dragons playfully flanking a ‘flaming pearl’, surrounded by clouds, a motif known as er long xi zhu , two dragons playing with a pearl. The entire composition symbolises the emperor’s rule of the lands and oceans. Such imagery was historically popular among, and exclusive to, members of the imperial family, thus placing the present cabinet in the highest class of Chinese furniture.
  • An Impressive Large Gilt-Bronze Group of Yamantaka Vajrabhairava and Vajravetali,
    Ming Dynasty, Mid-15th Century,
    Attached to a Separate Lotus Pedestal,
    Qing Dynasty,
    Together with a Magnificent Imperial Hardstone-Inlaid Gilt-Bronze Throne,
    Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period.
    Sold for €1,149,000.
    Yamantaka Vajrabhairava is the fearsome manifestation of the bodhisattva Manjushri, the Buddhist lord of transcendent wisdom. Clasping his consort Vetali with his principal arms the buffalo-headed deity bellows with open mouth and fangs bared, proclaiming triumph over ignorance and suffering. Multiple arms, heads and trampling legs symbolise mastery over all elements that bind sentient beings to the wheel of existence, the constant cycle of birth and death, passions, desires and fears. The bull’s head signifies the deity’s conquest of the buffalo-headed god Yama, the lord of death in ancient Indian mythology, thus eliminating the conceptual obstacle of death (yama-antaka) through the enlightened Buddhist state of transcendent wisdom.
  • An Important Pale Celadon Jade 'Hetian Peach and Crane' Ruyi Sceptre Inscribed with an Imperial Poem and Dedicated to the Empress Dowager,
    Dated to the 1st Month of Spring of the Guisi Year of the Qianlong Period (in Accordance with 1773).
    Sold for €1,507,500.

    The present sceptre is exceptional for many reasons. Firstly, it is a technical feat, requiring a jade boulder or a slab of jade of sufficiently large size and even colour to realise such a large object. Jade of such flawless pale, almost white tone was rare and even more difficult to find in a large boulder. Hence, by making a large piece of jade into a sceptre, a significant part of this precious material was wasted, implying that jade objects of this size and quality stone such as the present sceptre were made either for the emperor or a high-ranking member of the Imperial family. The inscription on the back of the handle confirms both the rarity and outstanding qualities of the jade used for this sceptre while confirming that it was an Imperial commission.
  • A Rare Gilt-Bronze and Cloisonné Enamel Vase,
    Ming Dynasty, Late 16th Century.
    Sold for €463,500.

    Vases of this particular shape, which is believed to have been derived from a Tibetan kalasha vase, are rare and few examples are known in private and museum collections. The earliest recorded example of a cloisonné enamel vase of this form dated to the 15th century and decorated around the body with large lotus flowers, is in the Uldry Collection, Geneva.
  • A Very Rare Superbly Carved Cinnabar Lacquer 'Soul Tablet' Box and Cover,
    Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period.
    Sold for €571,500.
    The image skillfully carved with great detail on the cover of the present box represents a scene from the life of Buddha Shakyamuni preaching to his Buddhist disciples including the 500 luohan, the four heavenly guardians and numerous guanyin (Shijia mouni fo shuofa tu). A subject that is rarely depicted on three-dimensional objects. While the exact function of these rare boxes is not known, it has been suggested that they may have been designed and decorated to contain the spirit tablet of a deceased, a practice whereby the name of the deceased was recorded on a spirit tablet which were then kept in boxes of similar shape in temples, taken out to receive prayers and offerings at suitable festivals.
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