Left: A Superb Large Famille-Rose Prunus and Rose Charger, Mark and Period of Yongzheng (Est. HK$15–20 million / US$1.9-2.56million). Right: A Fine and Rare Famille-Rose 'Peach' Vase, Tianqiuping, Seal Mark and Period of Qianlong (Est: HK$80–120 million / US$10.3-15.4million). Photo Sotheby's

Hong Kong, September 2011 Sotheby’s Hong Kong is delighted to announce that Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Autumn Sale Series 2011 will be held on 5 October, 2011 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Leading the season is a prestigious European collection of Chinese Art – The Meiyintang Collection, Part II – An Important Selection of Imperial Chinese Porcelains. Together with a various-owner sale, a total of over 310 lots will be offered with an estimated total value of over HK$1.17 billion / US$150 million*.

Nicolas Chow, Deputy Chairman of Sotheby’s Asia and Sotheby’s International Head of Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, said, “We are pleased to offer this season exceptional objects from a variety of prestigious private collections. From the Meiyintang collection - possibly Europe’s grandest private collection of Chinese porcelain-, we will offer this season 40 pieces from the Ming and Qing dynasties, including a large early 15th century blue and white vase decorated with various fruits as well as a massive 18th century famille-rose vase decorated with peaches. We also have the privilege to bring to the market a selection from two private Hong Kong collections, the Huaihaitang collection on the one hand which comprises a superb pair of famille rose lime-green ground Qianlong vases, and on the other a group of exceptional enamels, comprising a unique massive Beijing enamel on copper censer made for the Yongzheng Emperor. Other highlights include a rare 14th century ‘dragon’ seal recarved for the Yongzheng Emperor that was passed down in the family of Emile Guimet and an exquisite pair of Beijing enamel boxes decorated with Western figures. Altogether, this forms one of the finest selections of Imperial porcelain and works of art ever to come on the market in a single auction.”

(A) The Meiyintang Collection, Part II - An Important Selection of Imperial Chinese Porcelains

The Meiyintang collection ranks among the finest private collections of Chinese ceramics in the world and Sotheby’s is honoured to offer for the second time in Hong Kong a selection of some of its most iconic pieces. The selection emphasises the most celebrated and rich periods in the history of the Imperial kilns. The sale offers over 40 lots with an estimated total value of HK$430 million / US$55 million.


An Outstanding Blue and White Vase with Fruit Sprays, Meiping. Ming Dynasty, Yongle Period. Height: 36.5 cm. Estimate: HK$80 - 120 million / US$10.3 - 15.4 million. Photo Sotheby's

Meiping decorated with fruit sprays are well known from the Yongle period. This large Yongle period meiping, with its elaborate decoration of ten fruit sprays, most likely predates the well-known smaller vases of this form. Only one companion piece to the present vase appears to be recorded, a covered meiping in the Palace Museum, Beijing. The present vase supplies vivid testimony to the success of these undertakings - its rich repertoire of fruit and flower motifs make it a masterpiece of Yongle porcelain art.


An Extraordinary Blue and White ‘Dragon’ Moonflask. Ming Dynasty, Yongle Period. Height: 44.2 cm. Estimate: HK$50 – 80 million / US$6.4 - 10.3 million. Photo Sotheby's

Moonflasks of this daring, massive form are testimony to the grand design concepts realised by the Ming imperial kilns during the Yongle reign, and the mighty dragons with their bold upturned snouts, bushy manes, writhing, scaly bodies, spiky spines and outsized claws reflect the pioneering spirit that reigned not only at the porcelain manufactories, but characterises the period as a whole. The impressive moonflask is one of only six known of this design and among the very few Ming vases of this form ever to come to the market.


A Fine and Rare Famille-Rose 'Peach' Vase, Tianqiuping. Seal Mark and Period of Qianlong (Right). Height: 51 cm. Estimate: HK$80 - 120 million / US$10.3 - 15.4 million. Photo Sotheby's

A Superb Large Famille-Rose Prunus and Rose Charger. Mark and Period of Yongzheng (Left). Diameter: 50.3 cm. Estimate: HK$15 – 20 million / US$1.9 - 2.56 million. Photo Sotheby's

The pinnacle of refinement in porcelain was reached during the first part of the Qing dynasty, when a new palette of opaque enamels was introduced in the Chinese potter’s repertoire. The large Yongzheng dish decorated with blossoming prunus and rose branches and the massive globular vase superbly painted with nine peaches both represent exceptional examples from the period. The superb pattern of twin flowering and fruiting peach trees extending around the sides of this massive vase became one of the best-loved porcelain designs in the Qianlong period. The colour combination has an irresistible appeal, the painting magnificent, and the design of two trees with different blossoms and bark, of which the interlaced branches together bear nine fruit, is sophisticated in its concept and reassuring in its eternal message conveying affluence and long life.

(B) Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art

Comprising over 270 lots with an estimated total value of over HK$750 million / US$96 million, the sale of Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art includes a number of important Imperial works of art and a special featured session - Beijing Enamels and Gilt Bronzes from A Distinguished Collector..


The Magnificent Pair of Beijing Enamelled and Cloisonne Boxes and Covers. 8cm. by 8cm. Marks and Period of Qianlong. Estimate: HK$30 – 40 million / US$3.85m - 5.13 million. Photo Sotheby's

The magnificent pair of Imperial enamel boxes illustrates Emperor Qianlong’s fascination with European subjects. The romanticised vignettes of ladies and children and the manner in which they are rendered were brought to China by Jesuits who worked at the court of the Qing Emperors.worked at the court of the Qing Emperors.


An Exceptional Early Ming Cinnabar Lacquer ‘Dragon’ Bowl Stand. Height: 16cm. Incised Mark and Period of Yongle. Estimate: HK$20 – 30 million / US$2.56m - 3.85 million. Photo Sotheby's

The exceptional cinnabar lacquer bowl stand made for the Yongle emperor and decorated with mighty dragons ranks among the finest cinnabar lacquer pieces to come to the market in recent years. This unrecorded lacquer stand has a counterpart of the same form but decorated with phoenix, previously in the Lee Family collection.


An Imperial Polychrome Qiangjin Lacquer Stand. Height: 85cm. Ming Dynasty, 15th / 16th Century. Estimate HK$6 – 8 million / US$769,230 - 1.03 million. Photo Sotheby's

This large Ming dynasty lacquer incense stand decorated in qiangjin technique (painted, incised and gilt lacquer) with a bird and peaches on the top appears to be unique. In terms of subject matter, it relates closely to porcelain and cloisonné pieces of the early Ming period.


An Important Massive Gilt Copper Alloy Figure of Yamantaka.. Height: 99 cm. Ming Dynasty, 15th Century.  Estimate: HK$65 – 80 million / US$8.3 - 10.3million. Photo Sotheby's

This magnificent and important Chinese gilt bronze represents one of the most formidable deities in the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon, Yamantaka Vajrabhairava, the  fearsome emanation of the bodhisattva Manjushri, lord of transcendent wisdom.

Only a small number of monumental mid-fifteenth century tantric bronzes, such as the Vajrabhairava, are recorded. All of them, including the present example, were formerly in the celebrated collection G. sold in Hôtel Drouot, Paris, in the early twentieth century.


A Sublime Large Gilt-Copper Figure of Tara. Height: 72 cm. Nepalese, 13th Century. Estimate Upon Request. Photo Sotheby's

This sublime figure is one of the most enchanting of all Nepalese sculptures of Tara, the Buddhist goddess of salvation. The female form is so well conceived that only serene expressions of divinity remind us of her spiritual nature, a temperament instilled by the sculptor that conveys Tara’s compassion for the devotees who have gazed upon this magical image over centuries. While her expression is contemplative, her gestures are of generosity and openness to her worshippers. The right hand is held in the varada mudra expressing charity and refuge, and the left in the vitarka mudra of debate and religious instruction. Her posture is relaxed and fluid, emphasising the rounded female form with graceful poise and balance. The youthful appearance of the goddess belies the depth of compassion and spirituality imbued in the statue: she is described in the sacred texts as a maiden of a mere sixteen years of age. Exquisite jewels adorn her naked torso, and her diaphanous skirt is delightfully decorated with floral sprays, jewel-bearing elephants, wish-granting horses and mythical beasts. The bronze embodies the sensuous quality of Nepalese sculpture, manifest in the voluptuous female form and an overwhelming sense of engagement with the viewer.


An Exquisite Pair of Famille-Rose Green-Ground Vases. Height: 36.5 cm. Seal Mark and Period of Qianlong. Estimate: HK$35 – 45 million / US$4.5 million - 5.8 million. Photo Sotheby's

The Qianlong emperor took an active interest in the work of the various imperial manufactories in his empire, particularly the Jingdezhen imperial kilns, bringing his personal influence to steer the workshop's artistic direction according to his taste for ornamentation and show. By working closely with Tang Ying, his virtuoso kiln supervisor, he encouraged potters at the imperial kilns to explore a wide range of shapes, colours and designs in their repertoire. As a result, a range of innovative wares were produced, of which this pair from the Huaihaitang collection is a particularly successful example.

The overall design spreads around the vase with ease to present an elegant vessel on which to attach the extraordinarily-crafted ruyi handles with suspending tassels. The appearance of ruyi sceptres as handles on vases was clearly a response to the Qianlong emperor's predilection for the idiosyncratic. The ruyi sceptre handles and decorative motifs reveal the Qianlong emperor's infatuation with portents of good fortune. The combination of lotus flowers, bats, lingzhi and ruyi form the rebus ruyi wanshou, meaning 'longevity as your wish', and infatuation with portents of good fortune. The combination of lotus flowers, bats, lingzhi and ruyi form the rebus ruyi wanshou, meaning 'longevity as your wish', and Hongfu Qitian, which translates as 'your fortune as high as the sky'.

Beijing Enamels and Gilt Bronzes from A Distinguished Collector

This selection of Beijing enamels and gilt bronzes comes from an Asian collector who has been building his collection for over 40 years. The group consists of three imperial Beijing enamels made in the Beijing Palace Workshops during the Yongzheng and Qianlong periods, and are among the largest sizes of enamels made in Beijing.


An Extremely Rare Massive Turquoise Beijing Enamel Censer and Cover, Height: 63.5 cm. Mark and Period of Yongzheng. Estimate: HK$35 – 45 million / US$4.5 million - 5.8 million. Photo Sotheby's

The production of enamelled ware was of great importance to Yongzheng who inherited his father’s, the Kangxi emperor, interest and love for these highly decorative and imposing wares. It was during Kangxi’s reign that the Manufacturing Bureau was established in Wuyin Dian under the auspices of the Imperial Household Department to produce enamelled porcelain wares used within the Palace.

The present impressive large censer represents the apogee and ultimate technical achievement of imperial enamel craftsmanship during the reign of the Yongzheng emperor. To produce a ware of this imposing large size with enamelled decoration of such high quality required the knowledge and skills of artists who could be found in only one place – the Enamel Workshop located within the Forbidden City in the capital. This censer was most likely a centrepiece for a five-piece altar set, flanked by a pair of candlesticks and two vases.


An Exceptionally Rare Pair of Large Yellow Beijing Enamel Candlesticks. Height: 62 cm. Marks and Period of Qianlong. Estimate: HK$25 – 35 million / US$3.2 million – 4.5 million. Photo Sotheby's

The striking features of the present pair of candlesticks are their exceptionally large size and fine painted enamelling. They are the products of the Imperial Palace Workshop where such impressive vessels were made on the orders of the Emperor and the court. Candlesticks of this type belonged to a five-piece altar garniture made for one of the temples or shrines where the Qianlong emperor and his family worshipped. Altar garnitures were placed in official sites such as the Temple of Ancestors and the Hall of Ancestors situated in the Forbidden City, and in non-official halls including the Shouhuangdian located in Jinshan, the park that lay immediately north of the Shenwu gate within the grounds of the Imperial Palace.