Bonhams will celebrate Asian Art in London this November through a series of exceptional auctions in London. On 31 October and 1 November, the Asian Art sale will take place over two days at our Knightsbridge saleroom in London, before the Fine Chinese Art auction which is taking place on 3 November in New Bond Street, London.
This week of auctions also includes The Marsh Collection: Art for the Literati, as both a live and online-only sale, which offers rare and important brushpots and paraphernalia made for the literati elite during the late Ming and throughout the Qing dynasty. The online-only auction will be sold without reserve between 28 October and 7 November on bonhams.com, and the live sale will take place at Bonhams’ flagship saleroom in London on 3 November.
An exceptional auction of Imperial Painted Lacquer Furniture and Scholar's Objects from China's Ming and Early Qing Dynasties will also take place in London on 3 November.
Ahead of the auctions, we spoke to the specialists behind each sale about their top picks going under the hammer.
Fine Chinese Art, 3 November
An Exceptionally Rare and Large Blue and White Reserve-Decorated 'Peony' Dish
Lot 110 | An Exceptionally Rare and Large Blue and White Reserve-Decorated 'Peony' Dish, Xuande six-character mark in a line and of the period (1426-1435)
Diameter: 38.7 cm
Estimate: £700,000 - 1,000,000
The present dish is exceptionally rare with only three other published dishes of this type bearing the mark of Xuande and of the period known to exist. One dish is the pair to the present lot, sharing the same family provenance, which was sold at Sotheby's New York, 15 March 2017, lot 6. A second dish is in the Palace Museum, Beijing, and the third dish, formerly in the Ataka collection, is in the Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka.
This magnificent and large dish, measuring 38.7cm diam., exhibits the ambition and technical dexterity achieved at the Imperial kilns of the Xuande period (1426-1435). Decorated in white on a cobalt-blue ground, the distinctive symbol on this dish is the peony embodying wealth and honour (fugui hua 富貴花). The 'king of flowers’ is surrounded by a series of other important symbols including the pomegranate, lychee, peach, persimmon, cherry and loquat.
Boasting impeccable provenance, the present dish was formerly in the collection of Baron de Villelume (1908-1991), Château de La Gorgue, France, and then sold at J.-P. Chapelle, P. Perrin, D. Fromantin, Versailles, on 12 February 1978, lot 76, where it was acquired by a French private collector. As one of only two such dishes held in private hands, it is an exceedingly rare opportunity to own an exceptional imperial vestige of the early Ming period.
An Exceptionally Rare and Important Gold Gem-Inset Figure of an 'Able Minister'
Lot 129｜An Exceptionally Rare and Important Gold Gem-Inset Figure of an 'Able Minister', Qianlong
Estimate: £80,000 - 120,000
The present figure, made of gold of exceptionally high purity between 89.4% and 99.8%, is exceedingly rare and possibly the sole surviving emblem from a gold and gem-inset set of 'The Seven Royal Treasures'. It demonstrates the zenith of craftsmanship during the celebrated Qianlong reign as well as the opulent taste of the Imperial Court and its prosperity.
The Chinese collection from the Estate of Lady Helen Oppenheimer can, at least in part, be traced back to Langley Park prior to 1945.
Imperial Painted Lacquer Furniture and Scholar's Objects from China's Ming and Early Qing Dynasties, 3 November
An Exceptionally Rare Imperial Tianqi and Qiangjin Lacquer Rectangular Table, Pingtou'an
Lot 302｜An Important and Exceptionally Rare Imperial Tianqi and Qiangjin Lacquer Rectangular Table, Pingtou'an, Chongzhen incised eight-character mark, cyclically dated to the Gengchen year, corresponding to 1640 and of the period.
Estimate: £600,000 - £800,000
This impressive table is an exceptionally rare and important example of furniture specially made for the Imperial Court during the late Ming dynasty.
Very few such examples exist bearing an Imperial reign mark, and only a handful of other furniture bearing the Chongzhen mark are known, of which the present lot is the only table. Remarkably, the table boasts exceptional provenance, having been published and illustrated by Maurice Dupont in his important book Les Meubles De La Chine, Paris, 1926, pl.16, when it was owned by the renowned Paris dealer L. Michon.
The table is superbly decorated with two imposing Imperial five-clawed dragons and Auspicious Emblems.
The Marsh Collection: Art for the Literati, 3 November
An Exceptionally Rare Blue and White '384 Shou' Brushpot, Bitong
Lot 31｜An Exceptionally Rare Blue and White '384 Shou' Brushpot, Bitong, Kangxi six-character mark and of the period.
Estimate: £80,000 - £120,000
The present brushpot, with its continuous rows of 384 Shou ('longevity') characters in different forms of seal script, channelled foot ring and Imperial reign mark, is extremely rare. It was likely made for an Imperial birthday before 1674, possibly Empress Dowager Xiaozhuang's (1613-1688) 60th birthday, corresponding to 1673.
It is offered from The Marsh Collection which has been formed over decades, focusing on brushpots and paraphernalia made for the literati elite during the late Ming and throughout the Qing dynasty.
Asian Art, 31 October - 1 November
A Large Wucai Baluster Jar and Cover
Lot 56｜A Large Wucai Baluster Jar and Cover, Shunzhi
Estimate: £15,000 - £20,000
This fine and large wucai baluster jar and cover dates to the Shunzhi period (1644-61). The vase is decorated with a lady in a long-sleeved robe, her arms outstretched, amongst male and female attendants bearing large fans and carrying vessels and wrapped qin, all in a lush pavilion garden setting. The scene on the present vase appears on large wucai jars and covers, as well as sleeve vases, produced in the Shunzhi period.
This type of decoration is usually confined to large pots and jars, which have elaborate and well-painted scenes. Such jars would have been both expensive and exclusive and, as such, ordered by wealthy private individuals. Related examples can be found in the San Antonio Museum of Art, Museum of Anastácio Gonçalves, Lisbon, and the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam.
The Marsh Collection: Art for the Literati (Online-Only), 28 October - 7 November
A Very Fine Huanghuali Lobed 'Lotus Shaped' Brushpot, Bitong
Lot 59｜A Very Fine Huanghuali Lobed 'Lotus Shaped' Brushpot, Bitong, 17th/18th century
Estimate: £15,000 - £20,000 (To be sold at no reserve)
With the beautiful natural grain of the wood and the elegant lotus petal lobed form demonstrating superb craftsmanship, this brushpot is exquisite. It is one of the most important parts of the paraphernalia used by the literati elite; not only was it used to hold brushes, but it allowed contemplation through its natural properties and form. It is offered from The Marsh Collection and was acquired from the well-known Chinese classical furniture dealer, Grace Wu Bruce.
All lots in the Online-Only sale are offered without reserve, providing all Chinese art enthusiasts with a wonderful opportunity.
Auction House: Bonhams London
Sale Date: 28 October – 7 November
- 29 -30 October 2022, 11:00 - 17:00 BST
- 31 October 2022, 09:00 - 19:00 GMT
- 1- 2 November 2022, 09:00 - 16:30 GMT
Address: 101 New Bond St, London W1S 1SR