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What’s happening in Asian art
Highlights of the New York September Asian Art auctions
October 1, 2021
A Partial Chinese Imperial Falangcai European-Subject Porcelain Vase, Qianlong four-character seal mark in blue and of the period, Height 4 7/8 inches, width overall 4 inches. Doyle, Asian Art sale, lot 189.
A rare and important Chinese Imperial falangcai vase achieved the week’s top price, $2.45 million at Doyle’s Asian Works of Art auction. It is one of a rare group of wares created during the reign of Qianlong (1735-1796), of which there are very few extant examples. The vase was the star of the collection of Belk department store heiress and philanthropist Sarah Belk Gambrell (1918-2020). Determined bidders from around the globe competing via telephone sent the vase soaring over its pre-sale estimate of $100,000/300,000.
The highlight of the sales at Bonhams was a gilt copper alloy figure of Yamantaka Vajrabhairava and Vajravetali, Ming dynasty, 15th Century, which fetched $687,812 in the Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Works of Art sale. Unusually large in scale at a foot and half high, the figure was exhibited in the National Palace Museum in Taipei in 1987 as part of a landmark exhibition dedicated to Buddhist Art from the prestigious Nitta Group Collection (lot 1207, est. $600/800,000).
Paintings from their sale, The Reverend Richard Fabian Collection of Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy III were sought after, particularly a hanging scroll in ink and color on paper by the well-known modern artist Huang Binhong (1865-1955). The work brought $275,312, far more than the $100/150,000 estimate (lot 11).
One of the top lots in the Important Japanese Art sale at Christie's was an iron articulated sculpture of a mythical beast (Shachi) from the Edo period (18th century), signed Toto Ju Myochin Shikibu (Sosuke), which sold for $625,000, above the estimate of $120,000/170,000 (lot 12).
Jehangir Sabavala (1922-2011), The Embarkation, oil on canvas, 42 ¼ x 32 ¼ in. (107.3 x 81.9 cm.), Painted in 1965, Christie's, South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art, lot 624.
The week's highest price at the same house was $1,590,000 for The Embarkation, a much-published work by major modern artist, Jahangir Sabavala (1922-2011) in the South Asian Modern + Contemporary Art sale (lot 624, est. $300/500,000). The work achieved a world auction record for the artist. The painting, an oil on canvas, was painted in 1965, a period when Sabavala’s work underwent important changes.
Property from the Springfield Museums, sold to support art acquisitions and collections care, did very well in the house’s Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale. Two late Ming, 15th century gilt-bronze figures of deities did the best, selling for $1,158,000, more than double the $300/500,000 estimate (lot 601). They are notable for their large size and fine casting.
Chinese paintings were the stars at the Heritage Auctions Asian Art sale. Scholars and Attendants with Painting, a hanging scroll in ink and color on silk, attributed to 14th century artist Chen Yu (1313-1384), sold for $137,500, many times the $15/20,000 estimate (lot 78233).
Prices were very strong for many of the archaic bronzes from the MacClean Collection, sold in the Sotheby's sale of Important Chinese Art. The first lot, an extremely rare pair of late Shang Dynasty archaic bronze ritual vessels (ding), were the stars. They sold for $1,895,500, multiples of the $200/300,000 estimate. Not only do very few pairs of such vessels survive, but their inscriptions, Zi Gong, seem to have been rendered partly in mirrored image, identifying them as a true pair.
A Copper Alloy Figure of Vishnu, Bhudevi and Sridevi, South India, Vijayanagar, circa 14th/15th Century, Height of tallest 15 in. (38.1 cm), Sotheby's Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Works of Art, lot 371
The highest selling Indian & Southeast Asian antiquity in the recent week of sales was a copper alloy figure of Vishnu, Bhudevi and Sridevi, from South India, Vijayanagar, circa 14th/15th Century. It brought $685,500, a reflection of the rarity as well as the exceptional quality of the group (lot 371, estimate $200/300,000). The Alice Boney and Pan Asian Collection provenance was an additional asset.