Top Lot: Luo Zhongli (China, born 1948), Portrait of a Woman, 1987, oil on canvas,
Estimate: $30,000-50,000, sold: $162,500
Asian, Ancient, and Ethnographic Works of Art Parts I and II, iGavel
Part I: April 7-April 26, 2022
Part II: April 7-April 27, 2022
Sales total: 290 lots sold for a total of $1,076,618, with buyer's premium
Strong interest in this sale preceded the auction itself last month during Asia Week New York with robust attendance to see sale highlights. Moreover, numerous additional consignments required expanding the auction to a second part and an additional day of sales.
The first and third top-selling lots were two portraits of elderly people from China's Southwest in oil by Luo Zhongli. This artist, who was born in 1948 and a native of Sichuan province, is China's most highly regarded realist painter. He is best known for his dramatically detailed and lifelike Father, painted in 1980 and now in the National Art Museum of China in Beijing. The sale of these paintings was dramatic, as conveyed by iGavel founder and president Lark Mason, “Both paintings by Luo Zhongli were bid to under $20,000 on the morning of the final day. It was in the final minutes that they rose, doubling and tripling the high estimate. These oil-on-canvas portraits, bought by the consignor’s parents in Beijing in 1987, hung on the wall together for nearly 40 years and now will be going back to Asia together to their new owner.”
L-R: Chinese Porcelain Enamel Decorated Fish Bowl, Qing Dynasty, Estimate: $3,000-5,000, sold: $123,139 and Luo Zhongli (China, born 1948), Portrait of a Man, 1987, oil on canvas, Estimate: $30,000-50,000, sold: $106,250
Similarly nail-biting was the sale of the second-most-expensive lot. This Qing-dynasty Chinese Porcelain Enamel Decorated Fish Bowl, as relayed by Mason, “…blew past its estimate range with a frenzy of bidding at the end, with eight bidders placing a total of 57 bids and pushing the lot into extended bidding for 26 minutes”. As iGavel's New York exhibition was part of this March's Asia Week, it draws this season's fair to a satisfying close of nearly $100m in total gallery and auction sales.
iGavel's website regularly publishes informative and insightful blogs. Libby Austin described the cultural and historical context that informed these portraits by Luo Zhongli in Luo Zhongli: Social Commentary through Artistic Expression . Lark Mason's essay, The Mystery of the Singular Table: An extraordinary Chinese table, not only rich in decoration, but in provenance as well, on the Chinese Gold and Silver Wire Inlaid Table in the sale, not only provided background of the furniture's production and historical context but also added provenance details and an evaluation of the item that ould only be written by a uniquely experienced veteran in the field.