The Finest Ever Example of its Type to Come to Market Unseen on the Market for over 30 Years Made by Imperial Order for the Kangxi Emperor. H.M. Knight Pink-Ground Falangcai Bowl. Possible Record Breaker for Chinese Ceramics Expected to fetch in excess of HK$200 million / US$25.6 million. Price Achieved: HK$238,807,500 / US$30,426,464. Photo: Sotheby's.
HONG-KONG. Sotheby’s Hong Kong Chinese Works of Art Spring Sale Series 2018 will take place on 3 April at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. The series will be led by the superbly enamelled, fine and exceedingly rare H.M. Knight Pink-Ground Falangcai Bowl (pictured above), a rediscovered imperial heirloom handscroll by Qian Weicheng, bequeathed by the last Emperor Pu Yi to his younger brother Pu Jie (dedicated release available upon request) and sutras. Anchored by a strong line-up of Qing pieces, the series of six sales will offer about 300 lots with a total estimate of nearly HK$730 million / US$93.5 million* .
Nicolas Chow, Deputy Chairman, Sotheby’s Asia, International Head and Chairman, Chinese Works of Art, comments, “There is extraordinary quality and breadth in our offerings of Chinese art this season, with possibly the finest assemblage of Qing porcelain on offer in recent memory. The H. M. Knight Gold-Pink Falangcai Bowl ranks without question among the very finest Imperially enamelled porcelains made for the personal use of the Kangxi emperor, whilst the Ruby-Ground Sgraffito bottle vase and the unusually large Lemon-Yellow Ground and Blue Tianqiuping both testify to the exceedingly high levels of craftsmanship achieved at the Imperial kilns during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor. The two magnificent sets of Imperial Wisdom Sutras, by Imperial order of the Ming Emperor Xuande in the first part of the 15th century, are the finest manuscripts to have been produced during the dynasty and no Chinese manuscript of this importance has ever been offered at auction.
A Rediscovered Imperial Heirloom: Ten Auspicious Landscapes of Taishan by Qian Weicheng
Qian Weicheng, Ten Auspicious Landscapes of Taishan, ink and colour on paper, handscroll 33.7 x 458 cm, 13 1/4 x 180 in. Estimate: HK$50,000,000 - 70,000,000 / US$6,410,000 – 8,970,000. Price Achieved: HK$146,794,000 / US$18,703,024. Photo: Sotheby's.
Depicting ten landscapes, this highly important handscroll is the greatest masterpiece of the renowned Imperial court painter Qian Weicheng, which has re-emerged after a hundred years. Qian Weicheng, the highest-ranking candidate in the official examinations, was a favourite of the Qianlong Emperor, and was always selected to accompany the Emperor on official grand Southern Inspection tours, during which the Emperor would don the attire of a commoner and conceal his imperial identity. Hence, the piece is a vessel of nuanced political statement as it asserts the Qianlong Emperor’s ownership and reign over the vast wealth of lands in China. In particular, the ten poems written by the Emperor inscribed on the scroll records his appreciation of the landscapes of Taishan, which he surveyed on tour on multiple occasions during his lifetime, and commemorates Qian Weicheng, his favoured artist at court. The present scroll was recorded in The Sequel to the Previous Collection of the Stone Canal Pavilion, and was originally kept in the Ningshou Gong of the Forbidden City. It was then bequeathed by the last Emperor Pu Yi to his younger brother Pu Jie in the early 1920s, in an attempt to curb the rampant theft of Palace treasures by court eunuchs.
Imperial Alchemy. The H.M Knight Falangcai Bowl
A superbly enamelled, fine and exceedingly rare pink-ground falangcai bowl, puce-enamel Yuzhi mark and period of Kangxi (1662-1722); 14.7 cm, 5 3/4 in. Estimate upon request. Price Achieved: HK$238,807,500 / US$30,426,464. Photo: Sotheby's.
This magnificently enameled pink-ground bowl is without question the finest example of its type and the only ever recorded with this design. There exists however a closely related example, the pride of the National Palace Museum, Taipei, which is painted with different flowers but the exact same colour ground. Given the rarity of the colours used and the admirable perfection of the firing, it is likely that the two were painted and fired side by side. Thrown and fired by potters at the Imperial kilns in Jingdezhen, the bowls were then painted in the Imperial Palace workshops in the Forbidden City in Beijing, possibly by Jesuits resident at the court of the Kangxi emperor, and fired a second time. The present bowl once belonged to the celebrated collector Henry M. Knight and has not been seen on the market for over thirty years, and can be traced all the way back to Shanghai, 1930.
The Lost Wisdom Sutra. A Treasure from the Golden Age of Xuande
Two sets of highly important, exceedingly rare and sumptuously brocaded leporello albums of illuminated wisdom sutra commissioned by imperial order and supervised by Huijin, Ming dynasty, Xuande period (1426-1435); execution in liquid gold on indigo-coloured goat-brain ritual paper; each album h. 40.5 cm, 16 in. Estimate upon request. Price Achieved: HK$238,807,500 / US$30,426,464. *World Auction Record for A Buddhist Manuscript. Photo: Sotheby's.
A legacy of the Golden Age and the only surviving example outside of the National Palace Museum, Taiwan, this outstanding relic of the Xuande period is indisputably the most important Chinese manuscript ever to appear at auction. Buddhist Sutras are canonical scriptures that render the teachings of the Buddha, which were taken over from India and translated. Their copying and propagation – like the commissioning of Buddhist images – is considered a meritorious practice. When such deeds are performed by an emperor, the resulting works are inevitably of the highest standard in terms of the materials used and the artists and craftsmen employed. As such, these two sets of albums from the Prajnaparamita Sutra, the Sutra of Perfection of (Transcendent) Wisdom, commissioned by the Xuande Emperor (r. 1426-1435), reflect the breathtaking level of imperially sponsored artefacts in the first decades of the 15th century.
Gems of Chinese Art from the Speelman Collection I
This spectacular collection of works of art consists of a kaleidoscopic range of materials encompassing the full scope and dynamic artistry of what was created for the Ming and Qing Imperial courts. The highlights of the sale are an important early Ming cloisonné jar, the pair to the famous example in the Uldry collection, and an exceptional Qianlong white jade brushwasher originally in the collection of Stanley Charles Nott. The sale also includes arguably the most comprehensive assemblage of Qing Imperial hardstone carvings ever to appear at auction, all of superb quality, the majority preserved with their original Imperial stands.
An Exceptional And Large White Jade Brushwasher, Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 17.8 cm, 7 in. Estimate: HK$12,000,000 - 15,000,000 / US$1,540,000- 1,920,000. Photo: Sotheby's.
A Highly Important And Outstanding Cloisonné Enamel 'Lotus' Jar, Ming dynasty, Yongle-Xuande period (1403-1435); 25.5 cm, 10 in. Estimate: HK$20,000,000 - 30,000,000 / US$2,560,000 - 3,850,000. Photo: Sotheby's.
Imperial Porcelain from a Distinguished Private Collection
This sale consists of ten imperial porcelains quietly assembled by a discerning private collector since the 1980s. With a time span from the Yuan to Qing dynasties, highlights include a rare blue and white ‘boys’ bowl from the Chenghua period and a Qianlong reign-marked blue and white ‘dragon’ moonflask.
An Exceptional and Rare Blue and White 'Dragon' Moonflask, Seal Mark and Period of Qianlong (1736-1795); 30.2 cm, 11 7/8 in. Estimate: HK$15,000,000 - 20,000,000 / US$1,920,000 - 2,560,000. Photo: Sotheby's.
A Superb and Rare Blue and White 'Boys' Bowl, Ming Dynasty, Chenghua Period (1465-1487); 22.5 cm, 8 7/8 in. Estimate: HK$6,000,000 - 8,000,000 / US$770,000 – 1,030,000. Photo: Sotheby's.
Important Chinese Art
The Important Chinese Art auction is a tightly curated assemblage of fine and rare porcelain and works of art with a particular focus on the Ming and Qing dynasties. Highlights of the sale include two exceptional and unique Qianlong mark and period porcelain vases: a superb ruby-ground yanggcai vase produced under the direct supervision of Tang Ying, opulently decorated with luxuriant lotus flowers, and a large yellow-ground and underglaze-blue tianqiuping vase decorated with dragons. The sale also includes a superb Northern Song dynasty Junyao bubble bowl and a magnificent imperial double-carved jade screen from the Qianlong period, complete with its original stand.
An Exceptionally Fine And Rare Ruby-Ground Yangcai Vase, Seal mark and period of Qianlong (1736-1795); 21.7 cm, 8 1/2 in. Estimate: HK$40,000,000 - 60,000,000 / US$5,130,000 – 7,690,000. Price Achieved: HK$50,264,500 / US$6,404,200. Photo: Sotheby's.
A Yellow-Ground And Underglaze-Blue ‘Dragon’ Vase, Tianqiuping, Seal mark and period of Qianlong (1736-1795); 61 cm, 24 in. Estimate: HK$30,000,000 - 40,000,000 / US$3,850,000 – 5,130,000. Price Achieved: HK$70,586,500 / US$8,993,426. Photo: Sotheby's.
A Superb Junyao Purple-Splashed Bubble Bowl, Northern Song dynasty (960-1127); 9 cm, 3 1/2 in. Estimate: HK$12,000,000 - 16,000,000 / US$1,540,000 – 2,050,000. Photo: Sotheby's.