Collectors of Chinese works of art will find Gianguan Auctions, pre-Asia Week sale on Saturday, March 10th, an exploration in connoisseurship.
The marquee item is Zhao Mengfu’s "Script Calligraphy of a Poem by Liu Zongyuan, Journey to the East Gate”. The nearly one-hundred inch long calligraphy is signed Ziang. It has one artist seal, 10 Emperors Seals, and 19 Collector’s Seals. The frontispiece is by Gao Shiqi, with colophons by Pan Zhengwei and Wu Dacheng. Descended from the Song’s imperial family, Zhao Mengfu came to prominence during the Yuan Dyansty, which was under Mughul rule. Bidding on Lot 81 begins at $300,000 but is expected to reach as high as $1,500,000 USD.
Among the Modernist paintings, Wu Qingxi’s “Lotus Pond Carp” is crafted in smooth brush strokes and vibrant colors that capture the fluidity of the large carp as it frolics beneath a lone lotus blossom that could be symbolic of aspirational desires. Wu Qingxia’s works are in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, among others. Because of the gender disparity in art, Wu Qingxia’s works have been undervalued. That may change with the renewed emphasis on women’s accomplishments. Lot 39 is estimated at $8,000-$15,000.
Zhang Daqian’s “Four Panel Painting of Poet Li Bai,” is an expressive portrayal of the solitary pursuits of one in tune with the universe. Sparely rendered, the white robed poet sits, walks, ponders and absorbs that around him, which is reflected in each panel’s calligraphic tribute. Entitled, inscribed and signed Daqian, each panel carries three artists seals. Bidding on Lot 62 starts at $10,000 although the work is expected to command as much as $100,000.
A jade boulder from the MIT Museum collection, originally sold at Christie’s in June, 1994, makes its stand at Lot 53. Of fine mottled russet jadeite, it has three incised windows through which gleam bright patches of the vibrant emerald stone. Of irregular form, the five pound stone carries a pre-sale estimate of more than $150,000.
The leading figurative carved jade is a two horse drawn chariot of pristine Hetian white. Of the Qin Dynasty, the 9 inch tall sculpture is carved and reticulated to deliver a commanding homage to the Emperor’s carriage. Seated under a turreted canopy that bears the royal insignia, the seated figure is guarded by four spear bearing warriors. The charioteer handles chain linked jade reins. The yoke, crossbar, wheel hub, sideboard, spoke and drawbar are all highly detailed. The scene is fitted on a wooden ruyi carved base. Lot 133, the two-thousand year old work of art is expected to fetch upwards of $50,000, with $1.5 being the top estimate.
The silvery glow of hammered bronze overlaid with white slip and polychrome gives a pair of Tang pottery court ladies a very special glow. Dressed in long flowing robes embellished with a floral medallion of circling phoenix and birds, one holds a song bird in her hand while the other modestly conceals her hands within the sleeves of a robe. The condition is excellent, the remaining pigment appropriate for its age. This is Lot 109, having an opening bid of $200,000.
Stand out among the devotional art begin with Lot 151, a Tang, gilt copper volume of the Pratyutpanna Sutra (Vol. 3). Finely incised in clerical script, the etched sheets are bound by hinges as an album and housed a rectangular box carved with Maitreya on the cover. More than 63-inches long, the 22-inch tall volume is valued at more than $200,000.
Of the Northern Wei, a free-standing, gilt bronze altarpiece with seven branching Buddhas surround a central figure of Buddha Maitreya who sits atop a lotus throne. Similar to pieces in the Boston Museum of Fine Art and the Metropolitan Museum, the dramatic piece is in the style of the Great Tower of Ashoka. It is Lot 82, with a market value as high as $100,000.
The star in the ceramics category is an unusual Ming blue and white with copper red dragon vase with garlic heard. Penciled in graduated tones of cobalt blue, the body features 2 dragons. At the top of the long neck, a copper red dragon sweeps upwards to culminate that garlic head opening. Lot 246 is 11 inches tall and positioned to find its collector at as much as $100,000.
Anchoring the auction is a collection of seals. Outstanding among these is Lot 108, a set of six white jade seals with elephants knops and characters in Zhuanshu script the deliver words of wisdom. The set is attributed to Emperor Kangxi. Housed in a fitted zitan box, the set is a rarity that will find interest in the midrange.
For details, please visit www.gianguanauctions.com and download the catalog. The sale is Saturday, March 10. Previews begin February 28 and continue through March 9 at the gallery, 39 W. 56th Street, New York 10019. Bidding is live or on epaillive.com or invaluable.com. To contact the gallery, call 212-867-7288.