Previews: our selection of 14 works from East Asia at the next auctions

Yongle ewer on sale

Sotheby’s is currently selling the collection of Dr Wou Kiuan (1910-97) through a series of sales – including a third installment in London on November 1. A JOURNEY THROUGH CHINA’S HISTORY: The Dr Wou Kiuan collection includes this 34 cm high Ming dynasty blue and white ewer from the Yongle period (1403-24). Based on a prototype of Islamic metalwork, this example is particularly impressive for its large and bold lotus flowers. The silver mount added in the 19th century is Ottoman Turkish.

Similar ewers decorated with peonies instead of lotuses also found their way to the Middle East: one with the bridge to the spout and loop on the handle missing is in the Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul. If in China these ewers were used for wine, in the Middle East they would have been accompanied by basins or deep dishes for religious purifications and for washing hands at mealtimes.

Last sold at Sotheby’s in London in 1966, it has an estimate of £200,000-250,000.

Born a few months before the overthrow of the Qing dynasty, Wou Kiuan (1910-1997) moved to Europe in his twenties and then entered the diplomatic service. He was driven to collect the relics of China’s rich historical past which were rapidly dispersed across Europe and took advantage of the abundant availability of exceptional material on the London market from the mid-1950s to the late 1960s.*

Ming joy levels


Ming dynasty cinnabar lacquer tiered box, estimated at £8,000-12,000 at Chiswick Auctions.

Standing 6½ inches (16.5 cm) tall, this 15th-century Ming dynasty cinnabar lacquer tiered box has an estimate of £8,000-12,000 at Chiswick Auctions’ Asian Art sale on November 16.*

incense burner


Qing white jade incense burner and lid, estimated at £8,000-15,000 at Duke’s.

Duke’s of Dorchester will hold its Asian Art Sale on December 9th. A group of objects from an old antique collection includes this 6 in. (15 cm) Qing White Jade Incense Burner and Lid acquired from San Francisco dealer S Bernstein & Co. Estimate is £8,000-15,000.

Moon Flask ‘Dragon’


Famille rose ‘dragon’ moon bottle with Qianlong mark, estimated at £30,000-50,000 at Dore & Rees.

This 9 inch (22 cm) tall famille rose ‘dragon’ moon bottle or bianhu has a Qianlong mark and is of the period. Coming from a private collection in Dorset, it has an estimate of £30,000-50,000 at Dore & Rees in Frome, Somerset, on November 7. A visit to London for this sale will take place at Asian House, W1, from October 30 to November 1.

It includes pieces from the collection of Anthony Lovett (mainly Kangxi famille verte) which will be offered in the equivalent auction next year.*

River decoration


Blue and white Chinese charger, valued between £600 and £800 at Olympia Auctions.

Olympia Auctions’ Asian Art sale on November 9 will include this large 18th-century Chinese blue and white dish painted inside with a medallion depicting a river landscape. Measuring 22 inches (54 cm) in diameter, it is estimated to £600-800.

Highly symbolic Qianlong plate


Square plaque in Qing famille rose porcelain, estimated £20,000-30,000 at Roseberys.

This piece of Qing famille rose porcelain is unmarked but is of imperial quality. From the Qianlong period, the 17-inch (42 cm) square plaque is decorated with a series of very auspicious symbols. At the central roundel are nine peaches (symbolizing longevity) surrounded by four bats (representing happiness) while among the lotus scrolls and ruyi heads are the eight Buddhist emblems.

A yellow ground border adorned with archaic chilong dragons is a tribute to ancient ancestors. It comes up for sale at Roseberys Chinese, Japanese and Southeast Asian Art Auction on November 8-9 with a guide to £20,000-30,000.*

jade carvings

These Qing jade carvings of a bird (estimate £400-600) and two boys playing (£300-500) are part of a collection of Chinese handling hardstones offered at Lay’s in Penzance on October 27th.

They come on sale from the grandchildren of Frederic Lipscombe (died 1968), potter, wood carver, goldsmith and engraver. In the 1930s he taught at art schools in New Zealand and traveled extensively in the Far East before returning to England at the outbreak of war in 1939.

hexagonal hu shape


Qianlong mark and period hexagonal hu-shaped vase, estimated £120,000-180,000 at Sotheby’s.

Understanding and reproducing the pottery and porcelain of previous dynasties was a key part of Qing ceramic production in Jingdezhen.

The famous Song Dynasty Ru wares in the imperial collection were first sent for copying by Emperor Yongzheng, his son Qianlong also being captivated by the characteristic pale blue glaze of the duck egg.

This vase of the Qianlong mark and period of hexagonal shape in hu is a fine example, which has a guide of £120,000-180,000 at the Sotheby’s sale titled Monochrome Important Chinese Art on November 2.*

Wealth is not always healthy


20th century polychrome enamel porcelain plaque in the style of Wang Qi (1884-1937), estimated £10,000-15,000 at Sworders.

The Sworders Asian Art Sale at Stansted Mountfitchet on November 4 includes this 20th century polychrome glazed porcelain plaque in the style of Wang Qi (1884-1937). It is painted with a wealthy man and his son tightly clutching a coin inscribed ‘Xing Ming zhi Bao’ (Treasures of Life) with a poor man at their side.

It is inscribed with a poem describing the danger of greed plus a dedication to commemorate the anniversary of Jingdezhen School of Fine Arts, Wang Bizhen’s signature and two seals reading ‘Wang Qi Hua Yin’ and ‘Zengcai Duoli shi Kong Kong’ (Being aggressive for wealth and profit will achieve nothing).

The plaque was acquired at auction in Singapore in 1980 and brought to the UK in retirement in the 1990s. Estimate £10,000-15,000.

Highlights from the sale will be on display in London at the Sworders Gallery in Cecil Court from October 29 to November 3.*

Shunzi jar and lid


Wucai baluster jar and lid from the Shunzhi period (1644-1661), estimated at £15,000-20,000 at Bonhams.

The start of a week of Asian Art sales at Bonhams is a two-day Asian Art sale in Knightsbridge from October 31st to November 1st. The 500 lots covering a wide range of ceramics and works of art, textiles and paintings include this Shunzhi period (1644 -61) wucai baluster jar and its lid decorated with a lady and her servants in a garden suburban.

Estimate £15,000-20,000.*

Genuine Rothschild Parts


Pair of recumbent horses, estimated at £3,000-5,000 at Dreweatts.

The Dreweatts Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale on November 9-10 includes a group of porcelain and hardstone sculptures that once belonged to Anthony de Rothschild (1887-1961). The pieces had been gifted to his daughter Renée Louise Marie de Rothschild (1927-2015) in 1948 when the family home, Ascott House in Buckinghamshire, was donated to the National Trust and the contents dispersed to several museums and members of family.

This particular selection of a dozen works had been wrapped up and had only recently come to the family’s attention. They bear notes, antique labels and numbers that correspond to the careful inventory kept by Anthony de Rothschild. Beginning his collecting odyssey after a trip to China in 1911 (he was one of the first lenders to exhibitions organized by the Oriental Ceramics Society founded in 1921), he amassed the majority of his works throughout the 1920s-30s .

This pair of reclining horse figures modeled as if about to stand dates to the Kangxi period and the estimate is £3000-5000. At the bases are labels for the De Rothschild collection (number 392) and the New Bond Street dealer S Gorer & Son.

birthday bitong

Bonhams’ Chinese art offering includes The Marsh Collection: Art for the Literati – a collection of brush pots and other accessories designed for the scholar’s table, assembled over decades. The sale will take place in two parts: live in New Bond Street on November 3 (the same day as the company’s multi-vendor Chinese art auction) and an online “no reserve” only sale which will take place from October 28 to November 7. .

At the head of the collection is this Kangxi mark and period (1662-1722) blue and white ‘384 shou‘ bitong. The design, with continuous rows of shou (“longevity”) characters in various forms of seal script, is extremely rare and would have been created to mark a significant imperial anniversary. Estimate £80,000-120,000.*

Design with curve appeal


Pair of Jiaqing (1796-1820) imperial yellow ground altar ewers in Tibetan style of make and period, estimated at £80,000-120,000 at Woolley & Wallis.

This pair of Jiaqing (1796-1820) imperial yellow ground altar ewers in Tibetan style penba hu will be offered by Woolley & Wallis in Salisbury as part of a Chinese Artwork sale on 15 November.

This distinctive shape with its curved beak protruding from the gaping jaws of the marks head was originally produced in metalwork with porcelain vessels such as those made through the Qing period. Each is brilliantly enameled with the eight Buddhist emblems (bajixiang) arranged in two registers among lotus flowers. Formerly in a private US collection, the pair has an estimate of £80,000-120,000.

The scholar likes to think and drink


Blue and white ‘drunken Scholar’ tripod (tonglu) incense burner, estimated £1500-2000 at Lyon & Turnbull.

The Fine Asian & Islamic Works of Art sale at Lyon & Turnbull on November 4 features this blue and white “drunken scholar” tripod incense burner (tonglu). It was made during the transition period during the reign of Chongzhen (1627-44), the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty.

He comes by descent from the family of Lawrence Edward Coleman. The sides of the vessel are intricately painted, showing an inebriated scholar lying and napping on a cloth mat with a cup tipped aside while an attendant ventilates a wine ewer on the stove.

Estimate £1500-2000.

The display for sale is at the firm’s London gallery in Connaught Street.*

* Denotes a participant in Asian Art in London

About Oscar L. Smith

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