Fine Japanese Art – New York Sale Results

The Bluette H. Kirchhoff Collection of Netsuke and Sagemono drew global attention to Bonhams’ New York galleries.

The collection was presented as the first of two sales; the second being Fine Japanese Works of Art. With nearly 400 lots auctioned throughout the course of the day, bidders were offered several exciting collecting opportunities.

Buddha-triadHighlights from the Kirchhoff collection include a boxwood netsuke of Rashomon by Ouchi Sosui (Tokyo, 1907-1972), which illustrates a ferocious demon leaping onto the back of mounted hero, Watanabe no Tsuna, while guarding the Rashomon gate in Kyoto. Estimated at $15/18,000, the piece significantly outperformed bringing $67,100.

Another work that attracted collectors was a late 18th-Century Ivory netsuke of a carp by Masanao (Kyoto). The swimming fish, signed Masanao, fetched $57,950.

There was also strong competition for a group of So School netsuke, largely the focus of the Kirchhoff Collection. At the end of fierce bidding the cover lot, Morita Soko’s wood netsuke of a worker, brought $54,900–well past its estimate of $25/35,000.

Other lots which exceeded expectation include a late 18th-century ivory netsuke depicting a blind foreigner which sold for $51, 240 against an estimate of $20/30,000; an 18th-century inlaid lacquer portable sake flask by Mochizuki Hanzan that brought $42,700, nearly doubling its top estimate of $22,000; and a late 19th-century stag antler obi-hasami netsuke of a demon by Ozaki Kokusai which drew more than four times its estimate of $7/9,000 for an outstanding final price of $36,600.

From ‘Fine Japanese Works of Art’ came an important 18th-century gilt lacquer Amida Buddha triad, which proved to be the top lot of the day, selling for $158,000. In addition, a collection of fourteen Zen paintings by Hakuin Ekaku (1635-1768) and his circle performed well. The group of ink paintings brought a final price of $64,050. Of note from the swords section was a 15th-century Eikyo-Bizen tachi by Sukemitsu which fetched $30,500. Also sparking excited bidding was a 12th -century wood sculpture of a seated Buddha, which resulted in a final price of $18,300 against an estimate of $6/8,000.

“It was an exceptional sale,” stated Director of Asian Art, Dessa Goddard. “The number of lots which greatly outperformed as well as the many which sold solidly within estimate made this day of sales quite a success.”

The illustrated auction catalogs can be viewed or purchased online at www.bonhams.com/us

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