Sotheby’s to Offer Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art in New York

Sotheby’s New York Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale, on 23 March 2011, will offer superb examples of Chinese painting, jades, furniture, ceramics and other works of art.

The 200 lot sale will be part of the Asia Week series of auctions at Sotheby’s New York. The highlight of the sale is An Important Imperial Nian Rebellion Battle Painting ‘Siege of Pingyu,’ by Qingkuang et al, Qing Dynasty, Guangxu Period (est. $800,000/1.2 million). It comes from a set of 67 paintings, of which only a very small number have survived making this example extremely rare. The painting depicts the siege and regaining of the fortified city of Pingyu which is being attacked by mounted Qing troops. At a time when Imperial works remain particularly sought after, the auction includes a number of other Imperial pieces such as A Fine and Rare Large Imperial ‘Zitan’ Long Table (Tiaoan), Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period (est. $500/700,000) and A Rare ‘Famille-Rose’ Reticulated Revolving Vase, Qianlong Seal Mark and Period, ($400/500,000). Further highlights include a number of jades from the collection of Robert Elliot Tod, a remarkable gentleman who built his collection at the beginning of the 20th century.

In addition to the important battle painting the auction also includes a Portrait Of A Woman ‘The Fragrant Concubine’ In The Style Of Lang Shining (Giuseppe Castiglione), an oil on paper from the 18th / 19th Century, which is reported to depict one of the favorite concubines of the Qianlong emperor (est. $100/150,000).

The furniture in the sale is led by A Fine and Rare Large Imperial ‘Zitan’ Long Table (Tiaoan), Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period (est. $500/700,000). The table was made from rare and prized ‘zitan’ wood. The carved archaic style decoration is unusual and has been influenced by Chinese bronzes. It reflects the Qianlong emperor’s interest and taste for archaic works of art and objects created in this style. The table is one of 23 lots of furniture and works of art in the auction consigned form a mid-Western private collection.

Scholarly Objects
A Very Rare and Well-Carved ‘Hundred Boys’ Celadon Jade Brushpot, Qing Dynasty, 18th Century is the highlight of a group of works from the collection of Robert Elliot Tod (est. $300/400,000). Mr. Tod was born in Scotland but would go on to become a patriotic American after emigrating in 1884 aged 17. He had a life-long passion for sailing, competing in the America’s Cup and launching the Karina in 1911 – reportedly the largest yacht in the world at the time. Tod was awarded the Navy Cross among many accolades for his service in World War I. After the war he became Commissioner of Immigration for the Port of New York – the first immigrant to oversea Ellis Island. It is likely that Robert Tod started collecting jade on his many foreign visits and was possibly inspired to do so by his friend Heber Bishop, the famed collector, whose collection of over 1,000 jades was donated to the Metropolitan Museum in 1902. Tod’s uncle had been an active director of the museum from 1889 to 1909 and Tod himself was elected to the position of ‘a Fellow of the Museum in Perpetuity’ in 1914. The sale includes 33 lots from this collection, of which the brushpot, with its attractive subject matter of the ‘Hundred Boys’ symbolizing a desire for many sons, is the centerpiece.

Further highlights of the works of art in the sale not from the Tod collection include A Pair Of Rare Peking Enamel Incense Stands, Yongzheng Mark And Period ($40/60,000) and an Unusual Rhinoceros Horn Libation Cup, Qing Dynasty, 17/18th centuries (est. $60/80,000).

Porcelain and Ceramics
Highlights of the porcelain in the sale include A Rare ‘Famille-Rose’ Reticulated Revolving Vase, Qianlong Seal Mark And Period, ($400/500,000). Revolving vases such as these come from a period in which potters were becoming increasingly innovative and ambitious in their work. They are amongst the most complicated pieces produced at the porcelain kilns in Jingdezhen, demonstrating both fine quality of decoration and technical innovation.

A Very Rare and Large ‘Longquan’ Celadon ‘Cong’- Shaped Vase, Song Dynasty, displays many characteristics of works from the Yuan period, such as a refined elegance and striking modernity (est. $250/300,000). The piece is usually large for a Song ceramic and is covered in an attractive even celadon-glaze. A Rare ‘Anhua’ Decorated White Glazed Ewer, Ming Dynasty, Yongle Period dates from a period that is recognized as one of the most active for China’s craftsmen whose work from this time is characterized by technical innovation and the rigorous pursuit of quality (est. $400/600,000). Further highlights include A ‘Famille-Rose’ Large ‘Hundred Deer’ Vase, Qianlong Mark And Period (est. $400/600,000) and ‘A Rare Famille Rose’ Figure of Amitayus, Qing Dynasty, 18/19th century (est. $80/120,000)

The antiquities in the sale are led by A Magnificent and Monumental Sandstone Head Of Buddha, Tang Dynasty (est. $400/500,000).
Chinese Furniture of the Qing

Image: An Important Imperial Nian Rebellion Battle Painting ‘Siege Of Pingyu’, from a set of eighteen paintings commemorating the campaign of the victories over the Nian, 1853-1868, by Qingkuang et al. Qing Dynasty, Guangxu Period, ink and colour on paper, framed and under glass, 122 x 54 in., 309.9 x 137.1 cm. Est. $800,000 – 1,200,000.

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