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A Fine White Jade Axe-Form Pendant, 18th-19th Century. Estimate: USD10,000-15,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2013.

NEW YORK, NY.- On March 21, Christie’s will offer over 100 superb works from A Collecting Legacy: Fine Chinese Jade Carvings and Works of Art from the Lizzadro Collection. Joseph Lizzadro (1898–1972) was Italian by birth, who emigrated with his father to the United States in the early 1900s. Following his move to Illinois, Lizzadro worked his way up from a laborer at the Meade Electric Company, and eventually was appointed Chairman of the Board. Lizzadro took up the art of lapidary and began his lifelong passion and fascination with Chinese jade and hardstone carvings. Over the years, his collection grew and he expressed interest in sharing “with others our enjoyment of the eternal beauty in gem stones and our appreciation of the art with which man has complemented the work of nature.” 

Lizzadro’s dream was realized on November 4, 1962, when the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art opened its doors to the public in Elmhurst’s Wilder Park. The collection continues to grow under the discerning eye of his son, John Lizzadro, Sr., who shares his father’s passion for Chinese carving. The museum now houses more than 200 pieces of jade and other hardstones, including pieces of international importance. It also displays exhibits explaining the evolution of these stones, especially jade, while also celebrating the art of the lapidary.

Christie's to offer fine Chinese carvings and works of art from the Lizzadro Collection A Well-Carved White Jade Ruyi Scepter, Qianlong/Jiaqing period, 1736-1820, 15 3/8 in. (39 cm) long. Estimate: $200,000-300,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2013. NEW YORK, NY.- On March 21, Christie’s will offer over 100 superb works from A Collecting Legacy: Fine Chinese Jade Carvings and Works of Art from the Lizzadro Collection. Joseph Lizzadro (1898–1972) was Italian by birth, who emigrated with his father to the United States in the early 1900s. Following his move to Illinois, Lizzadro worked his way up from a laborer at the Meade Electric Company, and eventually was appointed Chairman of the Board. Lizzadro took up the art of lapidary and began his lifelong passion and fascination with Chinese jade and hardstone carvings. Over the years, his collection grew and he expressed interest in sharing “with others our enjoyment of the eternal beauty in gem stones and our appreciation of the art with which man has complemented the work of nature.” Lizzadro’s dream was realized on November 4, 1962, when the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art opened its doors to the public in Elmhurst’s Wilder Park. The collection continues to grow under the discerning eye of his son, John Lizzadro, Sr., who shares his father’s passion for Chinese carving. The museum now houses more than 200 pieces of jade and other hardstones, including pieces of international importance. It also displays exhibits explaining the evolution of these stones, especially jade, while also celebrating the art of the lapidary.

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A Well-Carved White Jade Ruyi Scepter, Qianlong-Jiaqing period, 1736-1820; 15 3/8 in. (39 cm) long. Estimate: $200,000-300,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2013

Ruyi means `as one desires,' and is associated with expressions such as jixiang ruyi, “may all your good fortunes be fulfilled.” These ruyi scepters were known to have been commissioned by Qing emperors either to commemorate birthdays or to be bestowed as birthday gifts. This well-carved scepter is adorned with a fruiting and flowering double-gourd vine, an important symbol in Chinese art and culture as it represents several auspicious meanings. With its numerous seeds, the double gourd is a symbol of fertility, particularly for male children, as the word for “seed” shares the same pronunciation as `son.' The word for gourd (hulu) is also a pun for `good fortune' (fu) and `emolument' (lu) combined

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A White Jade Archaistic Openwork Plaque. Qianlong Four-Character Inscribed Mark And Of The Period (1736-1795; 41/8 in. (10.2 cm) high. Estimate: $80,000-120,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2013

Carved in the 18th century, a magnificent white jade archaistic openwork plaque likely credits its design to Han dynasty (206 BC - AD220) prototypes. Many pieces that were produced in the Qianlong reign, including this plaque, were slightly modified to suit the prevailing taste of the Emperor. The plaque depicts a pair of dragons with contorted bodies flanking a ring dividing the three characters of the phrase yi zisun, which translates to “blessings for future generations.” 

A large majority of archaistic jades from the Qianlong period were in essence carved in imitation of jades and bronze vessels from the Shang to Han dynasty, and many pieces that were produced in the Qianlong reign were slightly modified to suit the prevailing taste of the Emperor. The design of the present plaque is based on Han dynasty prototypes, such as the Western Han dynasty openwork plaque of similar shape in the Qing Court collection illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 40 - Jadewares (I), Hong Kong, 1995, p. 257, no. 215. Also illustrated, pp. 258-9, no. 216, is another plaque carved as a bi surmounted by the characters yi shou (for the benefit of longevity) carved in openwork.
An excavated plaque, very similar in design to the present plaque, which is dated to the Qianlong period, which also incorporates the three characters yi zi sun in the design, is in the National Museum of China, Beijing, and illustrated in Zhongguo guojia bowuguan guancang wenwu yanjiu congshu - yuqi juan, Shanghai, 2007, p. 340, no. 281. Another, of similar type, in the Qing Court collection, which incorporates the four characters, changyi zisun in the lower section, is illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - 42 - Jadewares (III), Hong Kong, 1995, p. 158, no. 127. A Qianlong period plaque, very similar to this latter plaque, in the Oscar Raphael Collection is illustrated by James C.S. Lin in "The Collection of Qing Dynasty Jades in the Fitzwilliam Museum", Arts of Asia, May - June 2010, p. 114, no. 14. It, too, is carved with the four characters changyi zisun and inscribed liangzi yibai liushiba hao (liang-character series no. 168).
Three further plaques of this type have been sold at auction. The first, carved with four characters changyi zisun, inscribed with the same reign mark in li shu, clerical script, on the outer edge, and numbered renzi qishijiu hao (ren-character series no. 79), was sold at Christie's New York, 16 September 2010, lot 1094. The second, inscribed with the mark zhizi yibailiushijiu hao(zhi-character series no. 169), was sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 27 April 2003, lot 3, and was later included in the exhibition, A Romance with Jade from the De An Tang Collection, Palace Museum, Beijing, 2004, no. 21. The third, with the characters yangzi erbai hao (yang-character series no. 200), from the collection of L. de Luca, was sold at Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 8 April 2011, lot 2805.

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A Very Rare Pale Greyish-Green And Brown Jade Bowl Liao/Yuan dynasty (10th-13th century BC) 6 in. (15.3 cm) diam. Estimate: $80,000-120,000. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd 2013

Both the shape of this extremely rare bowl and the type of dragon carved around the sides are highly unusual for a jade bowl of this period. The particular type of dragon depicted here, with its long snout, long sweeping horns, fierce expression, wildly undulating body and curved scimitar-like claws, was used as decoration on various mediums from the Tang through the Yuan dynasty.