Sneak Peek at Sotheby’s New York Asia Week 2021

Taking place this spring from March 12 to 24, Sotheby’s New York Asia Week 2021 puts together a myriad of Asian artworks from different categories, spanning from archaic bronzes and imperial jades, to the collection from the Brooklyn Museum of New York, and everything in between.

Here is an overview of the sales, which consist of four live and online auctions, together with the highlight lots:

Modern & Contemporary South Asian Art

One of the routine sales, the "Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art" is set to take place on March 16. The sale features a series of creative endeavors across the South Asian subcontinent, led by Indian modern abstract painter Vasudeo S. Gaitonde’s painting.


Lot 18 | Vasudeo S. Gaitonde (1924-2011), Untitled, 1962

Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 86.3 x 76.2 cm

Signed and dated in Devanagari and "GAITONDE / 62" on reverse 

Provenance: Acquired directly from the artist in Bombay, circa 1960s

Estimate: US$800,000 - 1,200,000

The 1962 oil on canvas was created by Indian painter Gaitonde at the pivotal point during the abstract color field painting art movement. A robust vision of red envelopes the viewers, while the black and yellow forms disrupt and almost penetrate the intense aura, providing the canvas with a complete harmony and balance. Subtle elements of hieroglyphic also add to both the proportion and suspension of the artwork.


Lot 68 | Maqbool Fida Husain (1931-2011), Untitled, 1963-64

Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 53.3 x 106.3 cm


  • Acquired by a private American Collector, Gallery Chemould, Bombay, 1963-64
  • Thence by descent
  • Gifted to the current owners in 2020 

Estimate: US$150,000 - 200,000 

The 1960s canvas is Husain’s more muted expression of his two most enduring and powerful motifs of horses and female nudes. Taking a departure from his signature expressive and dynamic style, he went with pastel hues with the present work. The striking nude in the center, in her Tribhanga pose, typically seen in classical Indian sculptures, is rendered through a boldly modernist aesthetic.


Lot 56 | Jehangir Sabavala (1922-2011), Lone Vigil, 1989

Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 99.3 x 149.2 cm

Signed and dated "Sabavala '89" lower left 


  • Acquired from the exhibition, Art Mosaic: In Celebration of Calcutta's Tercentenary, Calcutta, 1990 

Estimate: US$450,000 - 650,000

This painting emphasizes the magnificence of the five elements of the natural world: earth, water, fire, air and sky, which are an indelible feature of the Sabavala’s oeuvre. It also exhibits the artist’s other preoccupation: human fragility within the magnificent changeability of nature, as a testament to his perspectival and tonal capacities to create tranquil and ethereal spaces with remarkable depth.

Imperial Cloisonné & Jade - Chinese Art from The Brooklyn Museum

A selection of imperial jades and cloisonné enamels, dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasties is going under the hammer. Headlined by an imperial Qianlong white and russet jade brushpot from the Woodward Collection, the lots from this sale come from the Brooklyn Museum, which houses an astounding collection of ancient Egyptian art. Last fall, more than 20 works were deaccessioned by the museum, which raised a total of US$31m across the sales in the US and Europe. 


A White and Russet Jade Brushpot, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period

Height: 18.7 cm


  • Collection of Robert B. Woodward (1840-1915)
  • Gifted to the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, in 1914 (acc. no. 14.282)

Estimate: US$1,000,000 - 1,500,000

Raised on five splayed ruyi-form feet, the cylindrical jade brushpot is carved in varying levels of a continuous landscape dotted with tiered pavilions and overhanging wutong trees. A part of the surface is left uncarved to demonstrate the pure white coloration of the stone, accompanied by occasional patches of russet staining.

With the quelling of the Xinjiang rebellions, an influx of massive jade boulders from Xinjiang to China began in the 24th year of “The Jade Fanatic,” Emperor Qianlong's reign (1759). Carved from a substantial stone, the present lot is truly an impressive piece that similar works would have been nearly impossible prior to the Qianlong period. 


A Cloisonné Enamel “Bats and Clouds” Vase, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period

Height: 39.3 cm


  • Collection of Robert Hoe III (1839-1909)
  • American Art Association, New York, 18th February 1911, lot 812
  • Collection of Samuel P. Avery, Jr. (1847-1920)
  • Gifted to the Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, in 1911 (acc. no. 09.478) 

Estimate: US$300,000 - 500,000

The globular body - enameled with 16 bats in flight and blue ruyi-shaped clouds, rises from a tall spreading foot to a flaring waisted neck, which is set with two mythical beast-form handles. The vase is also decorated with a band of pendent bats and interlocking C-scrolls at the shoulder, as well as repeating lotus blooms at the foot.

Cloisonné enamels such as the present lot would have been commissioned exclusively for the use by the imperial courts, usually on display prominently in the halls where foreign ambassadors were greeted.

Important Chinese Art 

One of the routine sales, the "Important Chinese Art" auction on March 17 amasses a variety of Chinese works of art, dating back to as early as Shang dynasty (1766-1122 BC). Highlights include early Ming blue and white porcelain and Shang archaic bronze vessels. 

A Blue and White Lobed “Fruit and Flower” Bowl, Ming dynasty, Xuande mark and period

Estimate: US$200,000 - 300,000

Fruits and flowers symbolize prosperity in traditional Chinese culture. The motifs were among the popular designs in the early Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The shape of the present bowl is derived from conical bowls with six delicate rim lobes glazed in monochrome white. Two close examples are currently in the collection of the National Palace Museum in Taipei. 

The Hundred Antiques: Fine & Decorative Asian Art

The previous edition of “Saturday at Sotheby’s: Asian Art” has been replaced by the online sale of "The Hundred Antiques: Fine & Decorative Asian Art." Running from March 12 to 24, the sale features over 190 offerings of Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Korean, and Himalayan artworks.


A Large Blue and White “Lotus and Bajixiang” Vase, Tianqiuping, Qing dynasty (19th century)

Height: 52.7 cm

Estimate: US$10,000 - 15,000

Reflection and Enlightenment: An Exhibition of Chinese Buddhist Gilt-Bronzes from the Jane and Leopold Swergold Collection

Sotheby’s Asia Week this year will take place without the routine "Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Works of Art" sale. A special non-selling exhibition, instead, entitled “Reflection and Enlightenment: An Exhibition of Chinese Buddhist Gilt-Bronzes from the Jane and Leopold Swergold Collection” will run from March 11 to 17, where visitors can see in-person a total of 25 gilt-bronze sculptures amassed by collector and Buddhist scholar Leopold Swergold and his wife, including the one below.


A Gilt-Bronze Figure of Amitabha Buddha, Sui to Tang dynasty (6th to 10th Century)
The Jane and Leopold Swergold Collection