Fair Highlights 2019

 

The ‘Rockefeller’ Relief
Egypt
19th Dynasty, New Kingdom, c. 1300 BC
Limestone
H: 31.1cm
David Aaron, London

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Porcelain plate decorated with overglaze famille rose enamels and gold
China
Qing Dynasty, Yongzheng period (1723-1735)
D. 22.5 cm
Jorge Welsh Works of Art, London/Lisbon

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An extremely rare Chinese parcel gilt garniture
Maker’s mark of Quan Ji
Retailed by Lee Ching (Li Ching) of
Hong Kong, Canton and Shanghai
c. 1870
Silver gilt candelabra (x2)
W. 18 x H. 25.5 cm
Casket
W. 23 x H. 11 x D. 13 cm
Koopman Rare Art, London

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A mottled grey jade model of the head of Buddha
Liao Dynasty (907-1125)
H. 6.4 cm
Rasti Chinese Art, Hong Kong

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Triple gourd vase
China, Qing Dynasty, Kangxi period (1662-1722)
H. 102 cm
Vanderven Oriental Art, The Netherlands

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Goddess Tara
Tibet, Newari artist
13th century
Gilt copper alloy inlaid with semiprecious stones
H. 35 cm
Tenzing Asian Art, San Francisco

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Frank Auerbach (b. 1931)
The Pillar Box
2011
Oil on board
H. 56 x W. 56 cm
Tanya Baxter Contemporary, London

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An enamelled, diamond and coral chadumani (hair ornament)
Himalayas, North India
19th century
H. approx. 10cm
Susan Ollemans, London

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A lotus-bud Jar from the Jun Kiln
Jin Dynasty (1115-1234)
Porcelain
H. 11 x D. 8.5 cm
Wui Po Kok, Hong Kong

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Yukito Nishinaka (b. 1964)
Yobitsugi Series: Eternity
2019
Glass, gold leaf, silver leaf
38.5 x 17.5 x 17.5 cm
Wamono Art, Tokyo/Hong Kong

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William Anthony, London c. 1710
Important gold and enamel pocket watch with duplex escapement and rare stopping mechanism
Made for the Chinese market
Somlo London

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Baket-Mut, Chantress of Amun
Egypt (presumably from Western Thebes)
19th Dynasty, 1285-1270 BC
Limestone with traces of polychrome
H.74 x W.44 x D.49 cm
David Aaron, London

This enigmatic statue portrays a husband and wife, seated on a shared seat. There is a line of inscription running down the skirt of the female figure, allowing us to distinguish her as Baket-Mut, a ‘chantress’ (songstress) devoted to the temple of Amun. It can be presumed that a line of hieroglyphic inscription once ran down the legs of the male figure; this has been lost in antiquity so we are unable to identify him.

Group statues were popular in both the tomb and temple, often depicting husband and wife dyads, or family groups. Most pair statues were created with the female seated on the left of the husband, however in this case she is placed on his right. Baket-Mut’s left arm is placed behind her husband portraying affection; it is likely that the husband’s right hand once rested over her right hand. The same pose is found on the limestone statue of Horemheb (1300 BC-1250 BC), now in the British Museum. The intimacy of this pose helps us to understand the sanctity and importance of marriage and kinship to the Egyptians.

Masterfully carved from limestone, traces of original pigment can be found over areas of the surface, meaning that at the time of production the statue would have been vibrantly painted. It was created during the 19th Dynasty, a period when Egypt was thriving, having already enjoyed great prosperity and power for 300 years. It is widely acknowledged that the New Kingdom produced the most awe-inspiring and stylistic art.

The couple are depicted wearing the fashions set by the royal family of late Dynasty XVIII and early Dynasty XIX, showing they were wealthy and operated in high society. Baket-Mut’s dress is simple and close fitting. She is also depicted wearing an elaborate wig of plaited locks terminating in intricate beading, secured along the forehead with a wide headband. Wigs of this style were first introduced in Dynasty XVIII and examples have been found in the tombs of New Kingdom royalty and elite.

Hailing from an era renowned for its unparalleled artistic accomplishment, this striking dyad not only illustrates the skill of the sculptor but also embodies the spirit of New Kingdom art. Sculpture of this pedigree, scale and importance is seldom available to the private market and would be an exceptional acquisition for any private or museum collection.

 

Porcelain plate decorated with overglaze famille rose enamels and gold
China
Qing Dynasty, Yongzheng period (1723-1735)
D. 22.5 cm
Jorge Welsh Works of Art, London/Lisbon

A circular plate with a slightly everted rim and decorated with fine overglaze enamels of the famille rose palette. The centre depicts an architectural setting with a seated official on a veranda observing a lady breastfeeding and servants nearby performing different tasks, such as feeding pigs and sorting grain. This composition is framed by a gilded border of flowers and leaves around the cavetto. The key-fret band around the rim is interrupted by three lobed medallions, each finely painted with a bird perched on a colourful branch with flowers and leaves.

This remarkable plate is characterised by very detailed painting of fine quality. The artist used the famille rose palette, which first appeared during the early 1720s and remained popular throughout the Qianlong period (1736-1795); nevertheless, the finest pieces such as the present example were made during the earlier Yongzheng period. Called fencai (‘powdered colours’) or yangcai (‘foreign colours’) in Chinese, this palette includes a rose-pink colour, which is also combined with white enamel to produce varying degrees of opaqueness.

Provenance: Jarras Collection

An extremely rare Chinese parcel gilt garniture
Maker’s mark of Quan Ji
Retailed by Lee Ching (Li Ching) of
Hong Kong, Canton and Shanghai
c. 1870
Silver gilt candelabra (x2)
W. 18 x H. 25.5 cm
Casket
W. 23 x H. 11 x D. 13 cm
Koopman Rare Art, London

 

The incredible quality of this garniture, comprising two parcel gilt candelabra and a casket, makes it an exceptional piece of Chinese silver. The design of the pieces is highly unusual as such architectural pieces differ from the most common examples of objects produced in the Shanghai region at the time.

The two candelabra sit on large square feet that recall the shape of traditional carved wooden bases for precious objects. The stem is adorned with a coiling dragon and a geometrical decoration connects the stems.

The body of the casket is shaped as a pagoda resting on four sharp feet with geometrical patterns and naturalistic clouds inside the reserves.

The garniture bears the maker’s mark of Quan Ji and was retailed by Lee Ching (Li Ching), a silversmith and jewellery firm that operated from c. 1840 to 1880 at 24A Queen’s Road, Hong Kong; 30 Old China Street, Canton; and Nanking Road, Shanghai. Lee Ching enjoyed an excellent reputation for producing the finest items of export gold jewellery work and items in silver.

A mottled grey jade model of the head of Buddha
Liao Dynasty (907-1125)
H. 6.4 cm
Rasti Chinese Art, Hong Kong

This very finely carved Liao Dynasty (907-1125) jade head of Buddha is a very rare example of Buddhist sculpture in this material. The elongated head has a serene expression, with knotted hair and pendulous earlobes. The stone has dark brown and slight russet inclusions. The Buddha head has a powerful physical presence comparable to Liao period gold and silver funerary masks with the details of the eyes, nose and mouth being typical, as well as the shape of the head. Also, the creamy pale grey stone chosen follows other examples of jades from this period. These are all heavy influences of the nomadic proto-Mongol Qidan people who ruled China at this time.

Compare two burial masks in gold and silver-gilt from the tomb of Princess of Chen and Xiao Shaoju at Qinglongshan Town in Naiman Banner, Inner Mongolia, see Hsueh-man Shen (ed.), Gilded Splendour: Treasures of China’s Liao Empire (907-1125), pp. 100-101, no. 2 and pp. 108-109, no. 6.

 
Triple gourd vase
China, Qing Dynasty, Kangxi period (1662-1722)
H. 102 cm
Vanderven Oriental Art, The Netherlands

Provenance: - J.P. Pierpont Morgan Collection, no.1464
- Duveen Brothers, New York
- Norton Simon Foundation (1965)
- Parke Bernet Galleries, May 1971, Lot 36
- Private Collection, USA, 2017
Exhibitions: Special loan exhibition of rare Chinese porcelains in aid of various charities, Duveen Brothers Galleries, New York, 1907, cat. no.90
Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1965-1971

This monumental triple gourd vase (huluping) is decorated in underglaze blue. The two lower bulbs – which are predominantly blue - are decorated in reserve with white stylised dragons, meandering foliage and peony flowers. The lower section has additional medallions with stylised chrysanthemums in a circle of various leaves. The top section has a more geometric design in blue on a white ground, with multi-lobed cartouches filled with lotus flowers and scrolls which are surrounded by floral band latticing. The lower part of the trumpet-shaped neck is decorated with plantain leaves; the mouth has a plain double blue line.

The large size of this vase testifies to the remarkable technical expertise of the Jingdezhen potters in the early 18th century. It would have been made in separate parts and then put together before firing. Such a large-scale piece of porcelain was no doubt intended for one of the European courts. The most notable collector of large-scale porcelain was the Elector of Saxony, Augustus the Strong, for his court in Dresden. This collection currently still holds five comparable large vases. Other examples are in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam and the Laura Collection, Italy.

This triple gourd vase is particularly special because of the incredible documented provenance. Through labels and documentation, we can trace it back nearly 100 years to the collection of the famous banker and avid art collector John Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913). The rich history is underlined by a charred old note we found inside the vase, which was signed by a wealthy New York Gilded Age socialite, Mrs Arthur (Harriet) Curtiss James (1867-1941), who frequented the same social circles as Morgan. The discovered note certainly places this vase firmly in the era of J.P. Morgan.

Like Morgan, Arthur Curtiss James was one of the wealthiest men in the United States. His fortune was made from mining and his railroad empire, which included a seventh of the entire railroad network in the USA. He was a quiet, conservative man, focused mainly on his many charitable contributions rather than society, which he seems to have left to his wife Harriet.

Morgan and Curtiss James were contemporaries both living in New York, with mansions on Park Avenue. Curtiss even sold his neighbouring plot to a J.P Morgan partner. They would have certainly known each other socially, as they were active members of the New York Yacht Club, both serving as commodore. They also sat together on various boards of charitable institutions such as the Metropolitan Museum, Museum of Natural History and the New York Philharmonic. Why and how the note from Mrs Curtiss James ended up in the vase for over 100 years is unclear.

Literature:
S. Bushell, Catalogue of the Morgan Collection of Chinese Porcelains, New York, 1904, pl.CXLIX

 
Goddess Tara
Tibet, Newari artist
13th century
Gilt copper alloy inlaid with semiprecious stones
H. 35 cm
Tenzing Asian Art, San Francisco

This sculpture of the goddess Tara is impressive in size, elegance and beauty. Her right hand is extended and in the left she holds a lotus, her distinctive emblem. The clinging transparent garment with flowing pleats around her fleshy legs provides an interesting contrast. The broad, square shape of the face, with delicate features, is characteristic and distinctive of its period and style, Early Malla (1200-1482). The sculpture is the embodiment of sensuousness, gentle spirituality and opulence at the same time.

The master sculptor of this sculpture was an unknown Newari artist. Newars were and are occupants of the Kathmandu Valley in Nepal who were responsible for creating most of the artworks and architecture there. They were also the principal conductors of trade, particularly with Tibet. However, their importance for us is their inspired contribution to the arts and aesthetics of Tibet from the earliest phase of the country’s history. Since the 7th century, Newari artists have been a constant presence across Tibet.

The Chinese admiration for Newari artistic genius is recorded in Annals from the Tang Dynasty (618-907) by ambassador Wang Xuanze. Centuries later, when the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan (1216-1294) requested that the abbot of the Sakya monastery in Tibet send him some artists, the Tibetan pontiff turned to Nepal, and a young Newari genius called Aniko, or Anige, was dispatched with a large retinue to the Imperial court. Subsequently, he became master of the Chinese Imperial workshops and established an important school of Buddhist art whose influence continued for generations.

This sculpture like many objects in our exhibition may have emanated from Tibet, but they are certainly the products of Newari workshops, either in that country or in the Kathmandu Valley.
This goddess Tara is a perfect example of Newari creativity, displaying the restrained sensuousness in modelling, clean silhouette and gentle expression that define Newari aesthetics.

 
Frank Auerbach (b. 1931)
The Pillar Box
2011
Oil on board
H. 56 x W. 56 cm
Tanya Baxter Contemporary, London

Frank Auerbach is a figurative British painter of German birth, known for his portraits and expressionistic English cityscapes. Born in Berlin to Jewish parents, Auerbach was sent as a child to England in 1939 to escape Nazism. His parents were unable to flee Germany and both died in concentration camps. After the war, Auerbach studied at St. Martin’s School of Art in London, and then at the Royal College of Art, where he developed a unique style, using bold colours and roughly applied impasto.

Auerbach’s favourite sitters are his wife Julia, the writer William Feaver, and Juliet Yardley Mills, his principal model wince 1963 and the subject of over 70 works. Although offered the honour of a knighthood on several occasions, he has refused to accept, maintaining his reputation as an unpretentious, though aloof, artist. Auerbach continues to live and work in London. Over the past 40 years, he has been strolling around the same area of north London where he has lived and worked for most of his life, from Mornington Crescent to Primrose Hill via Camden Town, accompanied by a notebook to record his observations. He has said that as an immigrant, he is passionately English and can hardly bear to leave London, and indeed has rarely done so.

The Pillarbox is a typical example of a somewhat mundane street scene transformed by Auerbach’s dazzling palette and energetic application of brushstrokes into a painting of alluring colour and depth. The red pillarbox appears in the foreground next to a bright golden road, with a bridge over railway tracks beyond. Although Auerbach intends to recall his street scenes with a faithful objectivity, he does not see the need for a structural composition, instead employing a highly subjective way of seeing and an expressive translation of this vision in paint. His style is well suited to celebrating what he terms the ‘higgledy-piggledy mess’ of London, converting everyday scenes into something jubilant.

 
An enamelled, diamond and coral chadumani (hair ornament)
Himalayas, North India
19th century
H. approx. 10cm
Sue Ollemans, London

This important hairpiece from Northern India is made from four separate elements. The base is of round form set in a dark green enamel ground with flat-cut diamonds and mounted with seed pearls. The largest element, of cup form, has a floral design set using the kundan technique into a deep green enamel ground.

In Indian gemstone jewellery, kundan is a traditional method of setting stones, with each gem being set with a gold foil between the stone and its mount, whether in elaborate necklaces or hair ornaments like this one. The method is believed to have originated in the royal courts of Rajasthan and Gujarat. It is one of the older techniques in jewellery made and worn in India. The word kundan means highly refined gold. This style was highly prized by Mughal royalty and noblemen, and artisans who specialised in this were much in demand.

The flat top of the cup-form element is decorated with delicate blue and green enamelling. This in turn is mounted with a large gold ball inset with diamonds in a floral design mounted with seed pearls and finally a single coral bead. The elements are held together with a single silver pin that would be tied into the hair in order to lift the veil away from the hair.

Provenance: Private Collection Singapore
Vishnu Lall, India
Published: Usha R. Bala Krishnan and Meera Sushil Kumar, Dance of the Peacock: Jewellery Traditions of India, India Book House, 1999, p.145 #206

 
A lotus-bud Jar from the Jun Kiln
Jin Dynasty (1115-1234)
Porcelain
H. 11 x D. 8.5 cm
Wui Po Kok, Hong Kong

This lotus-bud jar is a vessel type typical of the Song (960-1279) to Jin (1115-1234) Dynasty. The shape embodies the Song aesthetic, and is also practical for holding small items, like incense or tea.

The Jun Kiln is regarded as one of the top five kilns in Song Dynasty China. It is known for its mysterious, unpredictable yet gracious colour patterns. This particular lotus-bud jar is uncommon in the sense that it has an exceptionally beautiful blue and purple glaze finish.

 
Yukito Nishinaka (b. 1964)
Yobitsugi Series: Eternity
2019
Glass, gold leaf, silver leaf
38.5 x 17.5 x 17.5 cm
Wamono Art, Tokyo/Hong Kong

Kintsugi (金継ぎ, "golden joinery"), also known as Kintsukuroi (金繕い, "golden repair"),[1] is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. Kintsugi dates back over 400 years in Japan. Artists who practice this technique transform the broken pieces into something with a special appeal.

Yukito Nishinaka has created this “Yobitsugi “series inspired by the aesthetic of "Kintsugi”. In this series, he breaks the glass he creates and puts the broken pieces together using this technique. With his academic background in pharmaceutical sciences, he has been able to combine different metals to create colours which are difficult to make, and melt and combine pieces of glass with different thicknesses. This allows him to create a truly unique beauty in his work.

From 2018 to 2019, Yukito Nishinaka’s work was exhibited in the exhibition Japan-Japonismes, Objets inspirés 1867-2018 at La Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris.

Some of his pieces will also be shown in the exhibition Reinvented Traditions: Contemporary Japanese Craft from the Ise Collection at the University Museum and Art Gallery, The University of Hong Kong, from August to October, 2019.

   
William Anthony, London c. 1710
Important gold and enamel pocket watch with duplex escapement and rare stopping mechanism
Made for the Chinese market
Somlo London

This timepiece features an enamel scene depicting Hector’s farewell to his wife Andromache and their son Astyanax. The literary source for Hector’s and Andromache’s farewell is taken from the 6th book of Homer’s epic poem The Iliad. In this classic poem, the heroic Trojan prince Hector, referred to as “the saviour of the city”, is going to war and must take leave of his wife Andromache and his son Astyanax. She has a premonition that her husband will lose his life in the coming battle, and with tears in her eyes, tries to persuade him to stay behind. Hector cannot be swayed and Andromache’s worst fears are eventually realised. Hector is killed by Achilles in open combat, Troy falls, and Astyanax, their son, is thrown from the city wall to his death. According to Homer, at the moment of his departure, Hector wishes that his little son might one day become an even greater hero than he himself.

This enamel scene is thought to be after the painting Commiato di Ettore da Andromaca (The Farewell between Hector and Andromache), c. 1654, by the Italian Baroque painter, Luca Ferrari (1605-1654), now in the collection of the Palazzo Pisani Moretta in Venice.