Christie’s Hong Kong unveiled star lots from its upcoming spring sale, altogether valued at more than HK$130m (US$16.5m). Highlights include a 240cm-tall (with pedestal) Buddhist sculpture from the Qing dynasty. The scale of the sculpture is so large that the auction house had to put it on display in its warehouse. Let’s take a look at treasures inside the trove!
Christie’s warehouse in Hong Kong
The Buddhist sculpture is 170 cm high, larger than life-size
It was placed in Gump's in San Francisco
Once we stepped inside the warehouse, the Buddhist figure immediately caught everyone’s attention by its monumental scale. Made in Qing dynasty, 18th century, the gilt-lacquered wood figure itself is 172cm tall, and over 240cm with the wood pedestal included. It would have come from an important temple, likely of Imperial provenance. The exceptionally well sculptured figure represents the pinnacle of 18th century Buddhist art.
It was acquired by Martin S. Rosenblatt for Gump’s in Kyoto between 1936-1948. Since then, it has graced the store front of this luxury home furnishings and décor store in San Francisco for over half a century. It is dear to the hearts of many San Franciscans. It will soon go under the hammer with an estimate of HK$30m-50m (US$3.8m-6.3m).
*Our interview with Ruben Lien, Senior Specialist in Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, on this Buddhist sculpture will be released soon. Don’t forget to stay tuned!
Next to the enormous sculpture of Medicine Buddha was a pair of wood figures of standing Bodhisattvas dating Five Dynasties-Northern Song dynasty, 10th-12th century, both measuring about 145cm tall. They have illustrious provenance and were published by the esteemed Asian Art dealer Yamanaka Sadajirō in 1924. It later came into an American private collection and the private hands of its current owner who acquired them in a Hong Kong auction in 1996. The figures are now estimated at HK$40m-60m (US$5.1m-7.7m).
The figures depict Guanyin and Mahasthamaprapta. The name, Guanyin, means ‘the one who perceives the sounds of the world’. It refers to the compassionate bodhisattva’s ability to hear the cries of all mankind, and to strive endlessly to help those who offer prayers. Mahāsthāmaprāpta is a bodhisattva mahāsattva that represents the power of wisdom, often depicted in a trinity with Amitābha and Guanyin, especially in Pure Land Buddhism.
Another large-scale star lot is a rare huanghuali altar table from Ming Dynasty, 15th century, measuring 99 cm high by 115 cm long by 69.8 cm deep. Formerly owned by a prominent Hong Kong entrepreneur and connoisseur T.T. Tsui, the altar table is expected to fetch HK$7m-9m (US$892,000-1.14m).
It is the only example of a huanghuali altar table from this period. It is constructed entirely of the precious hardwood huanghuali, including the drawers and their inner linings. And the high relief carvings found on the feet are unique features which cannot be found on any other Chinese classical furniture.
After looking at those treasures of large size, here is something smaller and more exquisite carved - an Imperial white jade ‘Zhoujia Yanxi Zhi Bao’ seal from the Jiaqing period (1796-1820). It was acquired by a French family in the late 19th century and thence by descent before it was sold at Christie’s Hong Kong in 2005. It will come up at auction again with an estimate of HK$18m-24m (US$2.3m-3m).
This important seal was specifically made to celebrate the Emperor Jiaqing (r. 1796-1820)’s sixtieth birthday. Seal face inscribed ‘Zhoujia Yanxi Zhi Bao’, meaning ‘Seal of Continual Joy on the Sixtieth Birthday’. It is superbly carved with a double dragon - ultimate symbol of Imperial authority.
A pair of Yangcai Ruby-Ground Bowls with Yongzheng Yuzhi marks within double squares and of the period (1723-1735) is expected to fetch HK$12m-15m (US$1.5m-1.9m). Yangcai, also known as foreign colours, refers to porcelain of Western style. Yangcai often incorporates Western-style shading in its floral compositions.
Chi-Fan Tsang, Head of Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art
A rare fine blue and white ‘fruit and flower spray’ vase from the Yongzheng period is going to lead Christie’s Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale. Being the one and only blue and white example of its type, it is valued at HK$32m-45m (US$4m-5.7m). For more details about this one-of-the-kind vase, read the article The One and Only Yongzheng Blue and White Vase from Larson Collection.
Christie’s Hong Kong Spring Sales
Dates: 24 - 29 May 2019
Venue: Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre