Christie’s Hong Kong Caps Off Autumn Auction with Solid Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Sale

Christie’s Hong Kong held four auctions for Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 29 November 2017, the last day of its autumn auction. Three dedicated sales, Chinese Archaic Jades from the Yangdetang Collection, Important Chinese Ceramics from The Dr. James D. Thornton Collection and Imperial Qing Monochromes from The J. M. Hu Collection, were all 100 percent sold by lot and value. Capping off the season was Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, which realized a solid total of HK$231m (US$29.7m).

Featured on the catalogue’s cover, a Copper-red and Underglaze-blue Amphora from the Yongzheng Period (1723-1735) was the leading lot of the sale. The shoulders are painted in underglaze blue with a band of bagua trigrams above four yin-yang symbols around the body, above a register of cresting waves in underglaze red around the base. The amphora was estimated at HK$15m-18m but experts from the Value made a pre-sale prediction of its hammer price surpassing the estimate.  

The bidding started at HK$10m with a bid increment of HK$1m. The amphora elicited bidding from mainly two bidders – a gentleman in the room and a telephone bidder represented by Sherese Tong (Specialist in Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art). It was hammered down at HK$20m and sold for HK$24.1m to the gentleman in the room.

The top lot of the sale was a pair of Huanghuali Round-corner Tapered Cabinets, Yuanjiaogui from 17th-18th Century, estimated at HK$9m-12m. The form of the current pair of cabinets stands out as an exquisite example of its type, all the rarer for being a pair. The simplicity and elegance of form of these cabinets is in the classical Ming style. The lot was hammered down at HK$30m and sold for HK$36.1m with buyer’s premium.

This pair of tapered cabinets came from Raymond Hung Collection. Hung was a prestigious collector of Chinese furniture well-known for his good taste. He started to form his collection in the mid 1980s and many of them were documented in a book written by Robert Hatfield Ellsworth, a prominent American art dealer of Asian furniture from the Ming dynasty.

Also from the same collection, a pair of Huanghuali Hexagonal Armchairs was sold for HK$8.74m, far exceeding its estimate of HK$2.4m-4m.

Another highlight of the sale was an Imperial Furongdong 'Qianlong Yubi' Soapstone Seal from the Qianlong Period (1736-1795). The current seal is carved from a large block of furong soapstone with a landscape scene inhabited by horses and their herdsman in shallow relief.

Connoisseurs often praise tianhuang as the king of soap stones; furong, in a sense, could be called the queen. However, in the old days tianhuang and furong were prized equally and their values fairly similar to each other. Only in recent years has tianhuang increased in value significantly on the market. This lot was hammered down at HK$17m and sold for HK$20.5m with buyer’s premium.

Another leading lot of the sale, an Imperial Famille Rose Seated Figure of Amitayus, failed to attract buyers despite carrying an estimate of HK$15m-20m. The bidding started at HK$10m and stopped at HK$12m after two increments. As no one offered higher bids, the lot was passed and bought-in.


Top eight lots (by prices realized)

A Fine Large Pair of Huanghuali Round-corner Tapered Cabinets, Yuanjiaogui
Qing Dynasty, 17th-18th Century

Lot no.: 2951
Size: 177.2 x 92.4 x 49.5cm
Property from the Raymond Hung Collection
Estimate: HK$9,000,000 - 12,000,000
Hammer price: HK$30,000,000
Price realized: HK$36,100,000

An Exceptionally Fine and Rare Copper-red and Underglaze-blue Amphora
Yongzheng Six-character Mark in Underglaze Blue and of the Period (1723-1735)

Lot no.: 2908
Height: 15cm

  • Acquired in Europe in the 1960s
  • Sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, Eight Treasures From A European Collection, 8 April 2009, lot 1602

Estimate: HK$15,000,000 - 18,000,000
Hammer price: HK$20,000,000
Price realized: HK$24,100,000

An Imperial Furongdong 'Qianlong Yubi' Soapstone Seal
Qianlong Period (1736-1795)

Lot no.: 2934
Size: 5.9 x 12.5cm
Kojima Kazuo (1865-1952), acquired in the early 20th century (by repute)
Estimate: HK$8,000,000 - 12,000,000
Hammer price: HK$17,000,000
Price realized: HK$20,500,000

A Magnificent and Very Large Imperial Cloisonne Enamel 'Phoenix' Tripod Censer and Cover
Qianlong Period (1736-1795)

Lot no.: 2915
Height: 80.6cm

  • William Jardine (1784-1843), the founder of Jardine Matheson.
  • Sir Robert Jardine (1825-1905)
  • Sold at Sotheby's London, 12 November 1974, lot 163

Estimate: HK$4,000,000 - 6,000,000
Hammer price: HK$11,500,000
Price realized: HK$13,900,000

An Exceptionally Fine and Rare Pair of Doucai ‘Lotus’ Small Lobed Vases
Yongzheng Six-character Marks in Underglaze Blue Within Double Circles and of the Period (1723-1735)

Lot no.: 2909
Height: 10.2cm
Collection of Li Chi Bai of Guangzhou, acquired prior to 1908
Estimate: HK$8,000,000 - 12,000,000
Hammer price: HK$8,000,000
Price realized: HK$9,700,000

A Rare Pair of Huanghuali Hexagonal Armchairs
Qing Dynasty, 18th Century

Lot no.: 2949
Size: 85 x 63 x 43.5cm
Property from the Raymond Hung Collection
Estimate: HK$2,400,000 - 4,000,000
Hammer price: HK$7,200,000
Price realized: HK$8,740,000

A Rare Pair of Coral-red Ground Famille Rose Vases
Jiaqing Six-character Seal Mark in Iron-red and of the Period (1796-1820)

Lot no.: 2910
Height: 33.5cm
Estimate: HK$3,000,000 - 5,000,000
Hammer price: HK$5,500,000
Price realized:HK$6,700,000

A Finely Painted Pottery Figure of a Bactrian Camel and Rider
Tang Dynasty (618-907)

Lot no.: 2919
Height: 60cm

  • The Dexinshuwu Collection, Taipei, 1995
  • The Chinhuatang Collection, Taipei

Estimate: HK$5,000,000 - 8,000,000
Hammer price: HK$5,000,000
Price realized: HK$6,100,000

Auction Summary
Auction house: Christie’s Hong Kong
Sale: Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art
Auction date: 2017/11/29
Sale total: HK$231,362,500 (US$29,776,009)
No. of lots: 169
Sold: 123
Unsold: 46
Sell-through rate: 73%
Average price per lot: HK$1,880,995