A Can’t-Miss Sale for Chinese Art Lovers: Finest Chinese Art from Renowned Collection of Sir Quo-Wei Lee Offered at Attractive Prices

An upcoming sale at Sotheby’s Hong Kong has caught the attention of Chinese art lovers because of the high quality, attractively low estimate and outstanding provenance of items on offer. Important Chinese Art from the Collection of Sir Quo-Wei Lee will be held on 3 October, featuring an assemblage of over 40 lots of the finest Imperial porcelain and jade.

Sir Q.W. Lee was undoubtedly one of the most remarkable bankers, philanthropists and collectors of his generation. He was notable for his achievements in business and education fields. He served as the Chairman of Hang Seng Bank. In 1988, he was given knighthood under British rule for his contribution to the society.

Sir Q.W. Lee

Sir Q.W. Lee (the third one from the right) was a member of Executive Council

In addition to his extraordinary commitment to excellence in all facets of his professional life, Sir Q.W. Lee was also known for his passion for collecting antiques. He was one of the earliest and most senior members of Min Chiu Society, the group of knowledgeable and respected collectors. The majority of the collection offered at the coming sale was acquired by Sir Q.W. Lee at Sotheby’s London and Hong Kong in the 1970s-80s. We have picked out some pieces from the collection that you can’t miss out on.

We often see moon flasks being offered at auctions and some are even featured on the cover of the catalogues but the two moon flasks offered at the sale are not any ordinary moon flask that we commonly see at auction. The production of large vessels required the highest level of technical skill at that time. This type of vessel is given the name “moon” flask because the shape resembles the full moon.

The sale offers two moon flasks, respectively from Ming dynasty, Yongle period and Qing dynasty, Qianlong period. The blue and white ‘rosette’ moon flask, bianhu, from the Yongle period has a domed circular front and back with a formal rosette centred by a yin-yang medallion within a ring of petal lappets, surrounded by a radiating eight-pointed starburst of alternating foliate and floral motifs, which is probably adapted from Middle Eastern motifs.

The Yongle moon flask is estimated at HK$7m-9m. Other fine examples of blue and white moon flasks could fetch up to HK$30m-40m in the market nowadays. Thus, with such a conservative price, the moon flask is likely going to elicit an intense bidding from interested buyers.

Giuseppe Eskenazi is highly regarded as one of the world’s most esteemed dealers of Chinese Art

Another moon flask offered at the sale is a copper-red moon flask from the Qianlong period. It’s a close copy of an equally rare underglaze-blue moon flask from the Yongle period. It required exceptional skill to create a moon flask painted with such a rich colour of red, probably after a process of repeated trials and errors. The present one is a rare example of copper-red vessel in good quality.

This Qianlong moon flask was previously in the collection of Eskenazi, an esteemed dealer of Chinese Art. It was later acquired by Sir Q.W. Lee. It is definitely a bargain to have this moon flask offered at only HK$2.5m-3.5m.

Alongside the Imperial porcelain from the collection, the sale also offers exquisite jade items. A white jade ‘dragon’ incense burner and cover from the Qing dynasty, 18th - 19th century, is based on an archaic bronze vessel known as ding. The white jade incense burner is flanked by a pair of well-carved dragon-head handles suspending loose rings whereas the domed cover depicts two addorsed chilong in crouching position.

By restricting the intricate carving to the handles and finial, the carver draws attention to the quality of the stone. The incense burner is valued at an attractive price point between HK$2.5m and 3.5m.

It is a dream sale for Chinese art lovers to get their hands on coveted pieces of superb quality. Yet, it is highly possible that most items on offer will be sold for prices way above estimate as we expect a competitive bidding from a number of collectors and art dealers. After all, who doesn’t want to get the best value for money?


Editors’ picks from Collection of Sir Quo-Wei Lee

An Outstanding and Rare Blue and White 'rosette' Moonflask, Bianhu
Ming Dynasty, Yongle Period

Lot no.: 122
Height: 31.5cm
Provenance: Sotheby's London, 12th December 1978, lot 380.
Estimate: HK$7,000,000 - 9,000,000

An Outstanding, Fine and Rare Copper-red Moonflask
Seal Mark and Period of Qianlong

Lot no.: 113
Height: 17.5cm

  • Sotheby's London, 9th July 1974, lot 278.
  • Bluett & Sons, London.
  • Eskenazi Ltd, London.

Estimate: HK$2,500,000 - 3,500,000

A Massive and Outstanding White Jade 'dragon' Incense Burner and Cover
Qing Dynasty, 18th - 19th Century

Lot no.: 142
Diameter: 29.6cm
Estimate: HK$2,500,000 - 3,500,000

Other highlights

A Fine and Rare Guan-type Vase, Hu
Seal Mark and Period of Yongzheng

Lot no.: 101
Height: 19.7cm
Estimate: HK$1,500,000 - 1,800,000

A Massive, Rare and Impressive Blue and White 'Floral' Vase
Seal Mark and Period of Yongzheng

Lot no.: 103
Height: 70cm
Estimate: HK$3,000,000 - 5,000,000

A Superb and Finely Carved White Jade ‘Longevity' Ruyi Sceptre
Qing Dynasty, Late 18th Century – 19th Century

Lot no.: 104
Length: 47cm
Estimate: HK$1,800,000 - 2,500,000

A Rare Underglaze-blue and Yellow-enamelled 'Lotus Bouquet' Dish
Mark and Period of Yongzheng

Lot no.: 108
Diameter: 21.5cm

  • Collection of Edward T. Chow (1910-1980).
  • Sotheby's Hong Kong, 19th May 1981, lot 584.

Estimate: HK$1,500,000 - 2,000,000

A Fine Blue and White 'Grape' Charger
Ming Dynasty, Yongle Period

Lot no.: 110
Diameter: 37.3cm

  • Collection of Mrs Gertrude Harriman, wife of Mr Otto Harriman, Dunmurry, Northern Ireland, until 1970.
  • Collection of F. and H. Hitchman, since 1970.
  • Sotheby's Hong Kong, 24th November 1981, lot 81.

Estimate: HK$6,000,000 - 8,000,000

A Large and Rare Pair of Blue and White 'Ram' Bowls
Marks and Period of Jiajing

Lot no.: 115
Diameter: 16.2cm
Estimate: HK$5,000,000 - 7,000,000

A Very Rare Blue and White 'Pomegranate' Dish
Mark and Period of Xuande

Lot no.: 125
Diameter: 29.5cm
Provenance: Sotheby's London, 11th December 1979, lot 288.
Estimate: HK$3,000,000 - 4,000,000

A Superb and Rare Yellow-ground Underglaze-blue 'pomegranate' Dish
Mark and Period of Zhengde

Lot no.: 127
Diameter: 29.2cm

  • Sotheby's London, 13th December 1966, Lot 74.
  • Spink & Son, London.

Estimate: HK$5,000,000 - 7,000,000

A Peachbloom-glazed Beehive Waterpot
Mark and Period of Kangxi

Lot no.: 129
Size: 12.5cm
Estimate: HK$300,000 - 400,000

A Rare Blue and White 'dragon' Box and Cover
Mark and Period of Jiajing

Lot no.: 136
Diameter: 21.3cm
Provenance: Sotheby's London, 2nd June 1970, lot 60.
Estimate: HK$70,000 - 90,000

A Rare and Brilliantly Painted Blue and White Barbed 'floral' Charger
Ming Dynasty, Yongle Period

Lot no.: 140
Diameter: 38cm
Provenance: Collection of Mr and Mrs Eugene Bernat.
Estimate: HK$2,500,000 - 3,500,000

Auction details
Auction house: Sotheby’s Hong Kong
Sale: Important Chinese Art from the Collection of Sir Quo-Wei Lee
Date: 3 October 2018|10:10am
Lots offered: 48