Sotheby’s unveils the schedule and highlights for the coming Asia Week New York this September. Over 1,200 works of art and paintings spanning 4,000 years of history will be offered across seven sales.
The season will feature a selection of Chinese works of art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, ancient Chinese art from the collection of Stephen Junkunc III, Buddhist devotional works of art including figures from the Chang Foundation Collection, and early ceramics from the Art Institute of Chicago etc. Here is an overview of highlights from the seven sales.
Chinese Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Florence and Herbert Irving Gift
Date: 10 September 2019, 10:00am
Kicking off Sotheby’s Asia Week Fall sale is Chinese Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: The Florence and Herbert Irving Gift on 10 September, a dedicated sale offering over 120 archaic to Qing dynasty jades along with porcelain, sculptures and objects for the scholar’s studio. Items were part of the Chinese works of art originally gifted by philanthropists and renowned Asian art collectors Florence and Herbert Irving to the museum.
Florence and Herbert Irving, the co-founder of the food services giant Sysco Corporation, were avid collectors in Asian art. The Irvings were long-time New York City philanthropists who had donated more than US$1 billion in total to institutions such as the Met, and Columbia University and NewYork-Presbyterian. In March 2015, they donated 1,275 Asian works of art to the Met.
Proceeds from the present sale will go into an Irving acquisition fund, to be used by The Met’s Department of Asian Art to continue the Irving legacy by seeking out artworks to further enhance the comprehensive nature of the institution’s holdings of Asian art.
The leading lot of the sale is a large spinach-green jade ‘immortals’ brushpot, Qianlong period, estimated to fetch US$500,000-700,000. It belongs to a highly refined group of ‘figure-in-landscape’ brush pots, created at the height of the jade production in the Qianlong period (1735-1795). Portraying mythological and historical events, these brush pots are exquisitely carved in green or white jade. The green jade models, particularly the striking spinach-toned examples, appear to have been especially favoured by the Qing court. The sides carved in high relief with nine immortals in a mountain retreat surrounded by rocky peaks, waterfalls, pines, and other vegetation, one side with six of the men gathered on a balustraded terrace.
Junkunc: Arts of Ancient China II
Date: 10 September 2019, 2:00pm
The season also sees the return of the sale featuring ancient Chinese art from the renowned collection of Stephen Junkunc III (d. 1978). The works span China’s antiquity, dating from the Neolithic to the Song dynasty periods. It will take place on 10 September.
Stephen Junkunc III was one of the great Chinese art collectors. His collection at its height numbered over 2,000 examples of Chinese porcelain, jade, bronzes, paintings and Buddhist sculptures. Junkunc III once owned two examples of the fabled Ru ware, one of them was sold for an eye-watering price of almost US$1.6m at Christie’s to the prominent collector Au Bak Ling in 1992.
The top lot of the sale is a beige and brown jade carmel from Tang dynasty, carrying an estimate of US$200,000-300,000. It belongs to a select group of jade camels portrayed in this particular curled pose. Traditionally linked with the Tang dynasty and the Silk Road routes, camels are more commonly portrayed in ceramic as majestic figures carrying foreigners or loaded with precious goods. Naturally, they were associated with luxury and with the exotic, thus conferring status and wealth to their owners.
Bodies of Infinite Light Featuring an Important Collection of Buddhist Figures Formerly in the Collection of the Chang Foundation
Date: 10 September 2019, 2:00pm
Also held on 10 September is Bodies of Infinite Light, an auction of Buddhist art spanning the Northern and Southern dynasties to the Qing dynasty. The sale offers twenty sculptures formerly in the Chang Foundation Collection. The Chang Foundation Museum is a renowned museum in Taipei showcasing ancient Chinese art pieces from various collections of the Chang family. The Ru-ware brushwasher that fetched HK$294m (US$37.7m), a record price for the world’s most expensive ceramic, was also part of the collection of the Chang Foundation, Taipei.
The sale will be headlined by a gilt, polychrome wood and gesso figure of Jinasagara Avalokiteshvara and consort, Xuande period, which is expected to fetch US$1m-1.5m. The iconography of this rare Chinese gilt-wood sculpture of Jinasagara Avalokiteshvara is drawn from the Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhist pantheon and represents an emanation of the popular bodhisattva as a meditational deity in union with his consort.
The specific style and composition of the pedestal corresponds to the Xuande Amitayus with its plain raised foot beneath a recessed band of beading, an elaborate flourish on the tips of broad lotus petals with further tendrils at the sides, and the prominent row of beading along the upper edge.
A Noble Pursuit: Important Chinese and Korean Art from a Japanese Private Collection
Date: 11 September 2019, 10:00am
Celebrating the Japanese tradition of collecting Chinese and Korean art, the sale A Noble Pursuit features 30 lots from a Japanese private collection comprises archaic Chinese bronzes, Korean ceramics and Chinese ceramics from the Tang, Song and Ming dynasties.
Top lot of the sale falls to a bronze tripod ritual food vessel (liding), late Shang/Western Zhou dynasty, that carries an estimate between US$120,000-150,000. It comes from the collection of Hirano Koto-ken who has been dealing with Chinese and Korean works of art for over 70 years.
Liding combine the characteristics of the li and those of the ding. While ding usually refer to round vessels, li display a distinctive three-lobed body. Both bronze li and ding were used for cooking and serving sacrificial meats or fish during ritual ceremonies. Liding of this type have been recovered from burials of the late Shang (16th century-c.1050 BC) and the early Western Zhou (c. 1050-771 BC) periods.
Important Chinese Art
Date: 11 September 2019, 10:30am
Important Chinese Art sale this season will bring more than 340 Chinese works of art dating from the Neolithic to the Republic periods. Highlights of this sale include a selection of Qing Imperial monochromes from the collection of Arnold and Blema Steinberg, early ceramics from the Art Institute of Chicago and Chinese porcelain and works of art from the collection of Henry Arnhold.
The cover lot is a lavender-blue ‘jun’ narcissus bowl from early Ming dynasty, sold by The Art Institute of Chicago. It is estimated at US$300,000-500,000. Together with 'Guan', 'Ge', 'Ru', and 'Ding' wares, 'Jun' ware forms one of the five famous wares of the Song dynasty as defined by collectors of later periods. It was produced over several centuries from Northern Song dynasty (960-1126) and lasting into the early Ming dynasty.
Fine Classical Chinese Paintings & Calligraphy
Date: 12 September 2019, 10:30am
Zhang Daqian's Ode to Red Cliff After Kuncan
Zhang Daqian's Recluse in Lofty Mountain
Fine Classical Chinese Paintings & Calligraphy sale will offer distinguished works coming from outstanding private collections worldwide, including two exceptional landscape paintings: Ode to Red Cliff After Kuncan and Recluse in Lofty Mountain by Zhang Daqian from an Important Asian American Collection. The sale also features prominent works by master Dong Qichang, a rare album of twelve leaves, and a remarkable calligraphy coming from the Collection of Naomi and Gary Graffman.
Carrying the highest estimate of the sale is Zhu Yunming (1460-1526)’s Ode to the Goddess of the Luo River in Cursive Script. Widely acclaimed for his accomplishment in calligraphy, Zhu Yunming was a famous Chinese calligrapher, poet and writer and scholar-official of the Ming dynasty and known as one of the “Four Talents of Wu” (Suzhou).
The present lot is a Zhu Yunming’s calligraphic rendition in cursive script of the famous Ode to the Goddess of the Luo River by Cao Zhi of the Three Kingdom period. The original work in question, written on hemp stationary paper, became fragmentary already in the Tang dynasty, retaining only thirteen lines and 250 characters. During the Song dynasty, the bibliography Baoke leibian first referred to the work as Thirteen Lines of the Ode to the Goddess of the Luo River, but other publications tended to refer to it as the Ode to the Goddess of the Luo River. Since the Ming dynasty, Thirteen Lines has been the common title.
Saturday at Sotheby’s Asian Art Featuring Chinese Art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art - The Florence and Herbert Irving Gift
Date: 14 September 2019, 10:00am
Over 580 lots of fine and decorative Chinese works of art will be offered, including a selection of Chinese art gifted to the Metropolitan Museum of Art from the collection of Florence and Herbert Irving, early pottery from the Art Institute of Chicago, works of art from the collection of Henry Arnhold, and Tang to Qing dynasty ceramics from the collection of Dr and Mrs Gregory F Sullivan.
One of the highlights is a painted pottery standing figure of a court lady from Tang dynasty, 7th-8th century, which is estimated at US$15,000-25,000.