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The Fonthill ‘Dragon’ Jar. A Magnificent Carved Celadon-Glazed ‘Dragon’ Jar, Seal Mark And Period Of Qianlong, 34.4 cm. Expected to fetch in excess of HK$80 million / US$10.3 million. Photo: Sotheby’s.

HONG KONG.- Sotheby’s Hong Kong Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Autumn Sales 2014 will take place on 8 October at Hall 3, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The sales will offer selected properties from various private collections, led by the Fonthill ‘Dragon’ Jar from the Qianlong period (Expected to fetch in excess of HK$80 million / US$10.3 million). Other highlights include a Xuande ‘fish’ stemcup from the Chunzaizhai Collection, Chinese art from the Hosokawa clan (separate press release available on request), the Baoyizhai Collection of Chinese lacquer, later Chinese bronzes from the collection of Ulrich Hausmann and porcelain from the collection of legendary Japanese dealer Sakamoto Gorō, as well as a yellow-ground yangcai vase from the Qianlong period from the Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art various-owner sale. Altogether, the seven sales will offer around 420 lots with a total estimate of approximately HK$530 million / US$68 million*. 

Nicolas Chow, Sotheby’s Asia Deputy Chairman and International Head of Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, said, “This season, it is our privilege to present a wonderful selection of some of the world’s most celebrated collections – Hosokawa, Hausmann, Baoyizhai – spanning a diversity of fields such as Imperial porcelain, later bronzes and lacquer. Besides, we will also offer a number of masterworks of Chinese Imperial porcelain, including the magnificently carved celadon jar decorated with dragons formerly in the Fonthill collection.” 

Auction Highlights:

The Fonthill ‘Dragon’ Jar | Sotheby's

The Fonthill ‘Dragon’ Jar | Sotheby's

The Fonthill ‘Dragon’ Jar. A Magnificent Carved Celadon-Glazed ‘Dragon’ Jar Seal Mark And Period Of Qianlong 34.4 cm Expected to fetch in excess of HK$80 million / US$10.3 million. Photo: Sotheby’s.

Throughout its 4,000-year history, the production of ceramics with celadon glazes has seen constant innovation. With the present jar, the classic jar form was rendered in a larger format unseen in previous examples, whereas the eternal subject of dragons among waves and clouds are portrayed in an exceptional style. With its superbly harmonious combination of form, carving style, design and glaze colour the present jar is a characteristic product of the period, when Tang Ying (1682-1756) was supervisor of the imperial kilns in Jingdezhen and the expectations on a piece of porcelain were set to the highest level ever. 

The Chunzaizhai Collection – A Xuande ‘Fish’ Stemcup | Sotheby's

The Chunzaizhai Collection – A Xuande ‘Fish’ Stemcup. An Important And Fine Copper-Red “Fish” Stemcup, Mark And Period Of Xuande, 8.8 cm. Est. HK$40 – 60 million / US$5.1 – 7.7 million. Photo: Sotheby’s.

The superb Xuande stemcup from the Chunzaizhai Collection is the only example of this particular type and size ever to come to the market. The radical simplicity of this three-fish and related three-fruit designs is without par in the history of Chinese porcelain decoration and testifies to both the innovative approach to painting at the Imperial kilns in Jingdezhen and the technical progress in the firing of the copper-red, a notoriously fickle pigment. The admirable, jewel-like colour and texture of these silhouettes was achieved only in the Xuande reign and was not matched since. Numbers of very well executed examples with red glaze decoration such as the present piece remained very small. This piece has an illustrious history, having come to the market for the first time at Sotheby’s in 1956 from the collection of Allen J. Mercher, and since spent two decades in the Chang Foundation in Taipei.

Chinese Art Through the Eye of Sakamoto Gorō – Porcelain Following the previous success of offerings from the Sakamoto Gorō collection, Sotheby’s Hong Kong is delighted to present a selected group of porcelains from the famed collection of the legendary antique dealer. Sakamoto’s career as an antiques dealer, collector and connoisseur has spanned almost 70 years. 

A Brilliantly Painted and Extremely Rare Blue and White Narrative Fragment of a Meiping, Yuan Dynasty. Diameter 24.3 cm. HK$2 – 3 million / US$260,000 – 380,000. Photo: Sotheby’s.

The present piece is a fragment of a meiping delicately painted in vivid shades of cobalt-blue with a continuous narrative scene alluding to the Yuan dynasty zaju (‘variety plays’), Baihuating (‘Pavilion of a Hundred Flowers’). The Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) is the only period when witty illustrations of popular scenes from contemporary theatre found their way onto porcelains. The superbly painted, complex stories represented on less than two dozen vessels that are preserved are among the most magnificent examples of Chinese porcelain painting ever achieved. This genre of porcelains made to evoke romantic or patriotic sentiments like contemporary drama developed in the relative freedom in porcelain production under the Mongol regime and was quickly abandoned again due to the subsequent submission of the Jingdezhen kilns under imperial control in the early Ming dynasty (1368-1644). 

The Baoyizhai Collection of Chinese Lacquer, Part 2

As ritual bronzes fell out of vogue in the late Eastern Zhou Dynasty (770-256 BC), lacquerwares began to take their place as one the most coveted luxury items one could own. Since that time, lacquer has continued to hold its place among highly esteemed collected objects like ceramics and jades. Hailed as one of the world’s top Chinese lacquer collectors, Dr. Hu Shih-chang (1924-2006) assembled a comprehensive collection which includes pieces from the Warring States period (475-221 BC) to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and has been widely published and exhibited. 

The Baoyizhai Collection of Chinese Lacquer, Part 2 | Sotheby's

An Exceptional and Important Carved Cinnabar Lacquer Bowl Stand, Ming Dynasty, Hongwu Period, Yongle And Xuande Marks, 21.4 cm. Est. HK$10 – 15 million / US$1.3 – 1.9 million. Photo: Sotheby’s.

Made to support bowls of hot tea, bowl stands were incorporated into the repertoire of the imperial workshops in the Ming dynasty. Ming (1368- 1644) emperors typically commissioned their own porcelains and relegated wares from previous reigns to storage. However, as carved lacquer was far more precious and laborious to recreate, this teabowl stand passed from ruler to ruler: produced for the Hongwu Emperor (r.1368-98), it was appropriated by the Yongle Emperor (r. 1403-24), whose reign mark was thinly engraved, before the Xuande Emperor (r. 1426-35) had his magnificent gilded mark carved on top. 

Later Chinese Bronzes from the Collection of Ulrich Hausmann

Passionately collected over 45 years by the German architect Ulrich Hausmann, the Wei Liao Qing Yuan is the definitive collection of later Chinese bronzes. Encompassing all the major categories, the sale includes incense burners, archaistic vessels, water droppers, hand warmers and religious figures, reflecting the refined taste of the official scholar elite from the Song to Qing dynasties. 

A Gold-Splashed Bronze Tripod Incense Burner, Liding Ming Dynasty, 17.5 cm. Est. HK$500,000 – 600,000 / US$64,000 – 77,000. Photo: Sotheby’s.

A Large Bronze Dragon-Handled Vase, Zun, Yuan-Early Ming Dynasty, 28 cm. Est. HK$40,000 – 60,000 / US$5,000 – 8,000. Photo: Sotheby’s.

A Partially Guilt-Bronze ‘Duck’ Water Dropper Late Ming Dynasty 6 cm Est. HK$40,000 – 60,000 / US$5,000 – 8,000. Photo: Sotheby’s.

A Gold and Silver-Inlaid Bronze Incense Burner, Liding Song Dynasty, 19 cm Est. HK$300,000 – 500,000 / US$38,000 – 64,000. Photo: Sotheby’s.

Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art

A Magnificent Yellow-Ground ‘Yangcai’ Vase, Seal Mark and Period of Qianlong, 29.3 cm. Est. HK$30 – 40 million / US$3.8 – 5.1 million. Photo: Sotheby’s.

The current yangcai decorated yellow-ground bottle vase is representative of the advanced technical innovation as well as the successful synthesis of classical Chinese taste and Western decorative technique and palette in porcelain manufacture during the reign of the Qianlong emperor (r. 1735-96), who is known for his love for yangcai pieces. It also marks the innovative combination of ‘flowers on brocade’ sgraffiato with yangcai colours that result in a most pleasing arrangement. The present yangcai vase is truly exquisite, in a fine state of preservation, and the quality of its enamelling compares favourably with the finest examples from the Imperial Collection still preserved in Taipei and Beijing. That it has been possible to find its original entry in the Qing imperial court archives makes it a truly magnificent legacy of the Qianlong reign. 

A Superb Blue and White Palace Bowl, Mark and Period of Chenghua, 14.7 cm. Est. HK$40 – 60 million / US$5.1 – 7.7 million. Photo: Sotheby’s.

Chenghua palace bowls are regarded as the most refined blue and white porcelains ever made and rank among the rarest wares ever produced at the Imperial kilns. Porcelain of the period remained greatly treasured by later Emperors, particularly Emperor Wanli and Emperor Yongzheng, who both had copies commissioned from the Imperial kilns. Both the interior and exterior of the bowl are decorated with gently undulating meanders of musk mallow, a flower design that appears for the first time in early 15th century blue and white porcelain. The present bowl is one of only two bowls of this design still remaining in private hands, while eleven examples are in museum collection, six of them in Asia and five in Europe. 

A Fine And Rare Pair Of Doucai “Peach” Bowls, Marks And Period Of Kangxi, 14.6 cm. Est. HK$8 – 10 million / US$1 – 1.3 million. Photo: Sotheby’s.

These bowls are notable for the elegant and unusual design which has been restricted to a narrow band. The refined composition is accentuated by the variation of colours and delicacy of the enamelling which illustrate carefully observed details. With its highly auspicious decoration, this pair of bowls was possibly part of the large production for the Kangxi Emperor’s sixtieth birthday celebrations in 1713 for which peaches symbolic of longevity featured as the main motif. 

An Important Imperially Inscribed White Jade Blade, Yuti Mark And Period Of Qianlong, 18.1 cm. Est. HK$8 – 10 million / US$1 – 1.3 million. Photo: Sotheby’s.

The present blade pendant is an excellent reflection of the passion of Qianlong Emperor for creative archaism in jades. Its form and decorative motifs are clearly based on the face-like motifs of Neolithic jades, but at the same time differ from the latter in execution. Pure and warm in material, subtle and profound in form, antique and refined in decoration, with an inscription of praise by the emperor himself, the present jade blade pendant is a perfect fusion of various cultural elements.