Christie’s London Asian Art Week Sales Program

Christie’s London Asian Art Week will run from 11 – 14 May 2010, featuring further remarkable works which exemplify rarity, beauty and excellent provenance, with many highlights offered from inspiring private collections such as The Edward and Marilyn Flower Collection of Netsuke and Inro, Part II, Prints from The Illing Collection and The Dr Neil Kendall Collection of 20th Century Chinese Porcelain. The sales include: Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 11 May at King Street; Interiors – juxtaposing Eastern and Western Styles – on 11 May at South Kensington; Japanese Art & Design on 12 May at South Kensington and Chinese Ceramics, Works of Art and Textiles on 14 May at South Kensington.

Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art: 11 May at 10.30am & 2pm, Christie’s King Street
Christie’s Asian Art Week London commences with an array of superb treasures offered in the Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale on 11 May. Featuring over 250 works spanning the Neolithic period (6500-1700 BC) to the 20th century, estimates for porcelains, sculptures and works executed in organic materials, such as rhinoceros horn and jade, range from £1,000 to £600,000. The highlights are led by an extremely rare pair of blue and white vases, Qianlong period (1736-95) (estimate: £400,000-600,000); a magnificent imperial gilt-bronze and lacquered statue of Amitayus (estimate: £400,000-600,000) and a finely carved 18th century ‘peach’ rhinoceros horn cup (estimate: £120,000-150,000).

The delicate finesse synonymous with porcelain is exemplified by a handsome pair of extremely rare blue and white Qianlong period vases (1736-95) (estimate: £400,000-600,000), which are offered at auction for the first time in almost two decades. Displaying the complex form and decoration favoured by the Qianlong Emperor, the mouths of these vases turn-down in a series of pendant ruyi; a stylistic innovation credited to the Qianlong period. This is a development of the lobed turneddown mouths of the 12th and 13th centuries which inspired Ming and Qing dynasty porcelains. A similar blue and white example is in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei. The ruyi mouth is also used on a famille rose vase in the Palace Museum, Beijing. What is distinctive about the present pair of vases is that the pendant ruyi at the mouth are balanced by similar ruyi at the foot. The technique of firing the delicate lower edges of the ruyi, rather than the solid edge, would have been very difficult and may explain the rarity of the feature which, combined with the elaborate dragon handles, make this a rare and exciting opportunity for connoisseurs.

An exceptionally rare green enamelled ‘holy water’ bottle dating from the Ming dynasty, 15th century (estimate: £100,000-150,000) is offered from The Property of a Private English Collector . From another Private English Collection is a fine pair of porcelain iron-red decorated ‘holy water’ bottles, dating to the Qianlong period (estimate: £10,000-15,000). Highly attractive and decorated with central lotus sprays between lappets and stylized foliate bands, a single identical example can be seen in a painting by Guiseppe Castiglione in the National Palace Museum which depicts the Emperor Qianlong seated beside a table set with some of his treasures. Other important rare porcelains featured include a copper-red decorated vase, Kangxi period (1662-1722) (estimate: £80,000-120,000) and two works which are offered from The Property of a Nobleman. An underglaze copper-red and blue decorated vase, 18th century Meiping (estimate: £15,000-20,000) and a rare Ming dynasty (15th century) blue and white ‘Lotus’ bouquet dish (estimate: £15,000-20,000) were both inherited by the present owner from the diplomat and art collector Sir George Labouchere (1905-99) of Dudmaston Hall, Shropshire. Labouchere served in China for the Foreign Office (1946-48), was Ambassador to Belgium (1955-60) and Ambassador to Spain (1960-66).

Arresting sculptures of devotional, national and decorative significance are led by a magnificent imperial gilt-bronze and lacquered statue of Amitayus, the ‘Buddha of Infinite Life’ (estimate: £400,000-600,000). Offered from The Property of a European Lady, this beautiful and serene figure is not only a reflection of the religious beliefs of the Kangxi emperor (1662-1722) but a reminder of the political importance of Tibetan Buddhism (Lamaism) in the early Qing dynasty. The Qing emperors portrayed themselves as bodhisattvarulers, reincarnations of Manjusri (Bodhisattva of Wisdom). This united the Tibetan view of the ruler as a living incarnation of a god with the Chinese Manjusri cult associated with the sacred Wutaishan in Shanxi province. Further significant sculptures, all dating to the Ming dynasty, range from a large bronze seated figure of Sakyamuni (estimate: £80,000-120,000), to a bronze figure of a seated guardian (estimate: £15,000-20,000) and a bronze figure of Weituo Pusa (estimate: £6,000-8,000).

Works executed in a variety of organic materials are headlined by an 18th century finely carved ‘peach’ rhinoceros horn cup (estimate: £120,000-150,000). Decoratively conveying multiple auspicious messages of long life, this cup is intricately designed in a manner greatly favoured during the reign of the Yongzheng Emperor. For centuries, rhinoceros horn carvings have been considered among the most valued of ancient Chinese works of art. A further example is a very rare rhinoceros horn ‘Buffalo Head’ rhyton which dates to the 17th/18th century (estimate: £20,000-30,000).

Other organic materials employed are exemplified by an imperial carved cinnabar lacquer peach-form box and cover, Qianlong period (1736-95) (estimate: £60,000-80,000). The cover is finely inlaid with hardwood forming a gnarled branch and five peaches, each of a different hardstone including rose quartz, lapis-lazuli and turquoise, amidst a garland of peaches on leafy stems. Supported on five bat-form feet, the combination of eight peaches and five bats is very auspicious and many scholars believe this particular design to have been applied to vessels made for imperial birthday celebrations. Amongst the jades are ten works from The Property of the Late John Barratt Esq., of Crowe Hall, Sold by Order of the Executors, which are led by a large, 18th century, mottled white jade badger group (estimate: £20,000-30,000) and a celadon jade censer and cover, Qianlong period (1736-95) (estimate: £15,000-25,000). Further jades include examples, from The Property of a Far Eastern Collector , including a celadon and russet jade carving of a reclining boy, Ming dynasty (1368-1644) (estimate: £7,000-9,000). Other charming works include a Qianlong carved cinnabar lacquer dish (estimate: £12,000-15,000) and a small boxwood carving of a Luohan, 18th century (estimate: £3,000-5,000).

Interiors: 11 May at 10.30am & 2pm, Christie’s South Kensington
Christie’s South Kensington regularly holds multi-category Interiors sales, offering a wide range of items to furnish the home from floor to ceiling. With estimates starting at only £500 they are incredibly popular. On 11 May the Interiors sale will juxtapose Eastern (morning session) and Western (afternoon session) styles, featuring an array of objects and works of art that perfectly complement the specialised Asian Art Week sales.

The morning session comprises over 200 Asian works – the largest ever Asian section offered in the Interiors format – providing first-time buyers with the perfect opportunity to start a collection, or simply bid on a striking statement item that would work well in their existing home interior. Highlights include eleven lots from the Dr Neil Kendall Collection, as well as the selection illustrated above: a William IV chiffonier, second quarter 19th century, later Japanned (estimate: £800-1,200); a Chinese famille noire baluster vase, 19th century (estimate: £2,500-3,500); a Regency penwork occasional tripod table, early 19th century and later re-decorated (estimate: £1,500-2,000) and a near pair of satin-birch and polychrome decorated armchairs, of George III style, third quarter 20th century (estimate: £800-1,200). One of the more unusual lots in the sale is a framed collection of 101 Chairman Mao badges, Chinese, 20th century (estimate: £600-800).

Japanese Art & Design: 12 May at 10.30am & 2pm, Christie’s South Kensington
The sale of Japanese Art and Design, on 12 May, spans the 14th to the 20th century and showcases over 500 lots which include two private collections: The Edward and Marilyn Flower Collection of Netsuke and Inro, Part II , following the significant success of Part I in Autumn 2009 and Prints from The Illing Collection. Leading the sale is a pair of Arita models of Hotei, Edo period, late 17th century (estimate: £25,000-30,000). Each finely modeled, highly evocative, figure is seated on a drum, holding a fan, with karako and puppies on his shoulders and at his feet. Vividly enamelled in iron-red, various shades of green, aubergine, yellow and black enamels and gilt, Hotei’s kimono is decorated with lotus flowers and the drums are adorned with chrysanthemums and peonies. The sale as a whole presents a wonderful array of lacquer, netsuke, inro, swords and sword fittings, prints, ceramics and Meiji works of art, with estimates ranging from £500 to £30,000.

In addition to being leading collectors of English majolica and American prints, the Flowers formed a superb netsuke and inro collection over a period of 40 years – beginning in the 1960s. Edward Flower is the general counsel and on the board of directors of the International Netsuke Kenkyukai Society. Amongst the treasures offered from Part II of the collection is a powerful ivory netsuke carving of Kwanyu holding his halberd, Edo period, 18th century (estimate: £6,000-8,000); an ivory So School netsuke of a child having a bath in a bucket, signed Soko, Meiji period, late 19th century (estimate: £3,000-5,000) and a four-case inro inlaid in Shibayama style with Gamnia Sennin, Meiji period, late 19th century (estimate: £4,000-6,000).

Elsewhere in the sale highlights include a suzuribako [box for writing utensils], Edo period, late 17th – early 18th century, (estimate: £7,000-10,000). Displaying an unusual undulating rim and decorated in gold, black, red and silver, it depicts a cockerel, a hen and three chicks beside a lake in a mountainous landscape; the inkstone and gilt copper waterdropper are decorated with red and grey shippo enamel and shakudo on a nanako ground. Following the success of Prints from the Illing Collection offered in November 2009, notable examples include a very good impression by Chobunsai Eishi (1756-1827) (estimate: £1,200-1,800). This print depicts a quietly captivating scene with three women on a veranda looking out across a shoreline, one holding a basket of shells.

Chinese Ceramics, Works of Art and Textiles: 14 May at 10.30am & 2pm
Christie’s South Kensington
Christie’s South Kensington Chinese Ceramics, Works of Art and Textiles Art sale presents over 450 highly desirable works, dating from the 12th century to the 20th century and crossing a broad spectrum of media from porcelain, jade, cloisonné enamel, cinnabar lacquer, wood and Canton enamel, to ivory, agate, amber, lapis lazuli, paintings, scrolls and textiles. Featuring a number of private collections from the Far East, Europe and the United Kingdom, this sale brings treasured heirlooms which have not been seen for many decades to the international market, with estimates ranging from £1,000 to £20,000.

Of particular note is the Dr Neil Kendall Collection of 20th Century Chinese Porcelain, a very fine collection including rare examples originally purchased from Peter Wain’s “Heavenly Pieces” exhibition, in 1993. Fascinated by Chinese art and culture and finding that Chinese philosophy and wisdom resonated with him, Dr Kendall spent a short elective period of study in Hong Kong as a medical student. When the London dealer Peter Wain held his selling exhibition of exquisite and finely enamelled porcelain from the very early years of the Chinese Republic (1912 onwards) Dr Kendall bought a considerable number of works, including many of the most important examples which formed the basis of his collection. Passionately committed, Kendall stood at the front of the queue from 3.30am to secure these works, ahead of fellow collectors, representatives from museums and dealers. Demonstrating the exquisite enamelling of the finest Chinese ceramics of the early 20th century, works offered include a pair of finely enamelled famille rose porcelain vases, each depicting Liuhai trailing a string of gold coins before a three legged toad, from the Republic period (1912-49), with Tongyun Shanfang iron-red seal and artist’s seal of Wang Xiaotang (estimate: £16,000-20,000). Other works from this collection are offered in the 11 May Interiors sale.

From the celebrated S. Marchant & Son Exhibition of Chinese Blue and White WAN LI to K’ANG HSI, 1980, and with the later provenance of the G & C.W.Digby Collection, the sale offers a beautifully decorated blue and white censer from the Transitional period dating to the middle of the 17th century (estimate: £10,000-15,000). This is believed to be decorated with scenes from “A tale of the Fountain of the Peach Blossom Spring”, which describes the story set in the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234) of a fisherman who discovers a lost village. A further censer is an 18th century cloisonné enamel example from a Private Scottish Collection, with twin beast head handles and decorated in coloured enamels with taotie mask motifs separated by gilt flanges on a turquoise ground (estimate £6,000 – 8,000).

Elsewhere in the sale, other notable works include a low wooden table inset with a blue and white porcelain panel, Qianlong period (1736-1795), which is painted with auspicious bats and scrolling lotus sprays (estimate: £8,000-12,000); a dynamic 18th century jade double fish vase, carved with two large scaled dragon fish leaping out from foaming waters (estimate: £5,000-7,000) and an early 19th century, large circular doucai plaque, painted with six large flowering peony blossoms and scrolling foliage, with a motif of alternating bats and stylized dragons around the rim, set against a green enamelled ground (estimate: £10,000-15,000).

The remarkable array of Chinese costume & textiles featured includes examples of the finest court robes, a selection of rank badges for court surcoats, as well as coverlets and fans made in Canton for export to Europe. This section of the sale is led by a brown silk Imperial Duke’s chifu (formal court robe) (estimate: £4,000-6,000) and a splendid coverlet in ivory satin which was embroidered in Canton, circa 1970, for a Portuguese family, whose coat of arms decorates the centre (estimate: £3,000-5,000). Other key lots include rank badges with Kesi cranes from the 19th century (estimate: £3000-4000); a 19th century Pufu (court surcoat) with a civil rank badge woven in (estimate £3,000-5,000) and a Lady’s Xiape (court waistcoat), late 19th century (estimate:£1,000-1,500)