Our upcoming inaugural Hong Kong auction of Chinese Works of Art, inconjunction with Freeman's of Philadelphia, will take place on 31st May 2016. On offer will be a broad range of pieces from early furniture and metalwares to fine ceramics and jades. Our specialists, Lee Young and Richard Cervantes, present a selection of highlights from each section below:
LOT 11 | RARE PAIR OF HUANGHUALI 'SOUTHERN OFFICIAL'S HAT' CHAIRS
MING DYNASTY, 17TH CENTURY
56cm wide, 100cm high, 45cm deep
Estimate HK$ 900,000-1,300,000
Provenance: The Collection of Mr. J Ritchie; purchased from Martin Fung Antiques & Furniture Co., Hollywood Road, Hong Kong in 1987, accompanied by the original receipt and certificate of antiquity.
This pair of armchairs is an excellent and rarely found example known as 'Southern official's hat.' Unlike the Northern type, the ends of the Southern official's chairs do not protrude.
The name 'official's hat,' in Chinese guanmaoyi, derived from the chairs' resemblance to the winged hat that was part of the formal attire of Ming officials, used exclusively by members of the elite class. Thus, even today, they are regarded as symbols of status and authority by the Chinese.
These two chairs embody a timelessness in the way they combine linear simplicity with sophistication of detail, loyalty to the traditional canon with a striking sense of modernity. Each is elegantly proportioned, with the narrow top rail supported on gracefully curved rear posts. The S-shaped splat is carved with a delicate ruyi-head medallion. The Huanghuali wood is of an attractive golden yellowish-brown tone with a mesmerizing translucent shimmer. The high-back form of the chairs is typical of the Ming dynasty.
With the excellent material and superb craftsmanship, there is no doubt that they are the work of a highly skilled artist and are of a rare quality.
For similar examples, see Wang Shixiang Connoisseurship of Chinese Furniture, p. 46, pl. A76; Wang Shixiang Classic Chinese Furniture, p. 90, pl. 48; Christie's sale in their New York rooms on 22nd-23rd March 2012, lot 1735.
LOT 21 | PAIR OF CARVED CINNABAR LACQUER 'CHRYSANTHEMUM' BOXES AND COVERS
QING DYNASTY, 18TH CENTURY
Estimate HK$ 220,000-340,000
Provenance: Private London Collection; formerly the property of a European private collector resident in China between 1925 and 1931.
LOT 41 | CARVED WHITE JADE 'DRAGON AND PHOENIX' COVERED VASE
Estimate HK$ 500,000-700,000
Provenance: From an Important North American Collector; formerly of a Private Honolulu Collection.
A period nephrite vase with similar high-relief 'dragon and phoenix' carving can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, as part of the Heber R. Bishop Collection (02.18.439)
LOT 85 | MAGNIFICENT BLUE AND WHITE 'DRAGON' DISH
CHENGHUA SIX-CHARACTER MARK AND OF THE PERIOD
Estimate HK$ 340,000-560,000
Provenance: Private English Collection.
Following the passing of the Chinese Emperor Xuande and the empowerment of the Empress Dowager as regent, the interregnum period of blank ceramics commenced. With the implementation of an edict banning the production of blue and white wares, which had flourished in production and use under the emperor Xuande, Empress Dowager promoted a new style in ceramics. Following her passing and the succession of Chenghua we encounter not only a revival in the production of blue and white wares but a period where it can be argued that it reached its zenith, as it is considered the main rival to Xuande wares. The earlier pieces, still with the darker imported cobalt remaining from Xuande, show transition into the lighter blues of locally mined cobalt that the period is more known for. The locally mined cobalt was more malleable to prepare and apply, resulting in the replacement of the 'heaped and piled' effect to a much softer and even toned greyish blue. Comparatively very few pieces of Chenghua wares bear the reign mark of the period. However, examples such as the present dish with the Chenghua reign mark allow us to understand that it was accorded official approval and intended for Imperial use with the dragons all endowed with five claws.
For further reading, see D. Macintosh (1994): Chinese Blue and White Porcelain. For a very similar example see Sotheby's Hong Kong, 24th November 1981, lot 106.
LOT 126 | RARE PAIR OF CHINESE GILT-BRONZE 'DRAGON' BEAKER VASES
QING DYNASTY, 17TH/18TH CENTURY
Estimate HK$ 1,200,000-1,500,000
Provenance: Sotheby's New York, 19th September 2015, sale n09437, lot 730.
LOT 146 | EMPRESS DOWAGER CIXI (1835-1908)
PLUM BLOSSOMS, DATED 1894
44cm high, 22cm wide (sight)
Estimate HK$ 700,000-900,000
Provenance: Previously from the collection of Reverend Isaac Taylor Headland and Dr. Miriam Sinclair Headland; Christie's New York, 15th March 2015, Sale 3718, Lot 3741.
Literature: Isaac Taylor Headland, Court Life in China, New York, 1909, unnumbered plate
Viewing in Hong Kong
Liang Yi Museum | 181 -199 Hollywood Rd | Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Saturday 28 May | 10am to 5pm
Sunday 29 May | 10am to 7pm
Monday 30 May | 10am to 7pm
Tuesday 31 May | 10am to 3pm
Tuesday 31 May 2016 | 6pm HKT | Liang Yi Museum
Buying at Auction