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Lot 196. A large Chinese carved wood figure of Samantabhadra, seated on an elephant, Ming Dynasty or earlier. Approx H: 37 in., 94cm; W: 32 in., 81.3cm. Estimate: $25,000-35,000© Freeman's 

PHILADELPHIA, PA.- Freeman’s September 7 Asian Arts auction will offer buyers a selection of nearly 650 lots of fine Chinese, Japanese, Burmese, Tibetan, and Korean decorative objects and works of art. Ranging from as early as the Neolithic period to present day, the breadth of material represented in the sale is sure to appeal to novice and experienced collectors of Asian art, decorators, and dealers. 

An impressive highlight of the sale is a large Chinese carved wood figure of Samantabhadra, seated on an elephant, from the Ming Dynasty or earlier (Lot 196, estimate: $25,000-35,000). Composed primarily of three large joined and carved timbers, the deity is seated at royal ease on a large elephant, dressed in draped scarves and bodhisattva jewelry. The present lot is unusual, not only for its large size, but also for the fact that the bodhisattva wears a crown incorporating a seated Buddha, which usually identifies a bodhisattva as Guanyin, as well as assuming a pose akin to "Water-Moon" Guanyin. The figure comes from a private collection in Pennsylvania. 

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Lot 196. A large Chinese carved wood figure of Samantabhadra, seated on an elephant, Ming Dynasty or earlier. Approx H: 37 in., 94cm; W: 32 in., 81.3cm. Estimate: $25,000-35,000. © Freeman's.

Composed primarily of three large joined and carved timbers, the deity seated at royal ease on a large elephant, dressed in draped scarves and bodhisattva jewelry, wearing a later Buddha-centered crown, seated with her right elbow resting on raised knee, the right hand on the elephant's neck, retaining traces of pigment. 

Provenance: Property from a private collection, Pennsylvania 
Acquired from Zhan Guo Yan and Gulen Chang, Beijing, January 29, 2002 

Note: The present work is unusual, not only for its large size, but also for the fact that the bodhisattva wears a crown incorporating a seated Buddha, which usually identifies a bodhisattva as Guanyin, as well as assuming a pose akin to "Water-Moon" Guanyin. There are rare examples however of Samantabhadra wearing a crown incorporating a seated Buddha, which may represent the head of the esoteric branch from which the bodhisattva emanates, such as the carved ivory figure seated on an elephant mount, part of a triad of Samantabadra, Avalokitesvara, and Manjusri, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, discussed and illustrated in Denise Patry Leidy and Donna Strahan, "Wisdom Embodied, Chinese and Buddhist Sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art", New York, 2010, pp. 132-133.

Earlier in the sale—though produced more than four hundred years later—is a photograph by Korean artist Bae Joon-Sung titled “The Costume of Painter – Whistler” (Lot 149, estimate: $20,000-30,000). The photograph of the female nude is accompanied by a painted with the model’s dress, based on the painting “Symphony in Flesh Color and Pink, Portrait of Mrs. Frances Leyland” by James Abbott McNeill Whistler. The present lot is part of the extensive series of works by Joon-Sung exploring the contrast between well-known European paintings of the Belle Époque, and their re-imagination with Asian female nudes, presented in such a way that the subject's nudity is revealed only through the movement or actions of the audience. 

 

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Lot 149. Bae Joon-Sung (b. 1967), The Costume of Painter – Whistler”, 2005. Photograph with transparent vinyl overlay and oil on vinyl, signed verso and on the overlay. H: 88 1/4 in, 224cm; W: 60 3/4 in., 154cm. Estimate $20,000-30,000. © Freeman's.

Provenance: Sold Sotheby's New York, March 31, 2006, lot 91 
Acquired from the above by the former owner 
Gift from the above to the present owner.

Note: The present work, with the figure based on J. A. M. Whistler's "Symphony in Flesh Color and Pink, Portrait of Mrs. Frances Leyland" (Frick Collection, New York), is part of the extensive series of works by Joon-Sung exploring the contrast between well-known European paintings of the Belle Epoque, and their re-imagination with Asian female nudes, presented in such a way that the subject's nudity is revealed only through the movement or actions of the audience. In this particular work, the reflection of the nude in the cheval glass, and oversize masks of male characters from the Beijing opera on the walls of the space the nude occupies, raises further questions on the nature of reality, of reflection and "truth", as well as the role of the observer, and the nature of shims or clothing separating the viewer from the viewed.

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James Abbott McNeill Whistler (1834–1903), Symphony in Flesh Colour and Pink: Portrait of Mrs. Frances Leyland, 1871–74. Oil on canvas 77 ⅛ x 40 ¼ inches, Frick Collection, New YorkPhoto: Michael Bodycomb.

A rare Chinese first rank civil official’s embroidered silk “Crane” rank badge (Lot 426A, estimate $25,000-30,000) will also be offered. Highly collectable Chinese rank badges wear first produced in numbers in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and became more predominant throughout the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). The embroidered badge was applied to the front and back of one’s surcoat, allowing a court member’s rank to be easily identifiable. Chinese rank badges are divided into three types; civil, military and imperial. The sale also includes two scarce examples of Korean military rank badges, as well: Lot 135, a silk-embroidered "Double Leopard" rank badge ($600-800), and a pair of silk-embroidered "Leopard" rank badges from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897), framed and glazed (estimate $1,000-1,500). 

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Lot 426A. A rare Chinese civil official's embroidered silk "Crane" rank badge, Kangxi period (1662-1722). Approx. H: 14 1/8 in., 36.3cm; 14 in., 35.5cm. Estimate $25,000-30,000© Freeman's.

The crane embroidered as a roundel against a gold embroidered ground with ruyi-shaped clouds, above rockwork and waves, all within a scroll border, framed and glazed. 

Provenance: Formerly from a Washington, D.C. private collection 
Acquired from the above by present owners 

Note: For a similar badge, divided, see the example sold at Christie's Hong Kong, "The Imperial Sale", May 30th, 2012, Lot 4032. 

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Lot 135. A Korean silk-embroidered "Double Leopard" rank badge. Sight H: 7 1/4 in., 18.5cm; W: 6 1/2 in., 16.5cm. Estimate $600-800. © Freeman's.

Framed and glazed. 

Provenance: Purchased in Korea c. 1971/1972.

The sale opens with a fine selection of Japanese prints and lacquer objects, including a Rimpa style pewter and mother-of-pearl-inlaid lacquer box and cover (Lot 35, estimate: $2,000-3,000). 

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Lot 35. A Japanese Rimpa style pewter and mother-of pearl-inlaid lacquer box and cover. Approx. L: 9 1/2 in., 24.2cm; W: 8 in., 20.4cm; H: 2 1/4 in., 5.8cm. Estimate: $2,000-3,000© Freeman's.

Depicting flowers and autumn grasses, rounded covers and sides, fitted interior with stylized water currents; inscribed Japanese wood box, after Korin, with artist's name Kosetsu. 

There are also more than 50 items from the Philadelphia Collection of Ann and Don McPhail, including Lot 199, a Chinese carved and painted figure of Guanyin seated in royal ease (estimate: $3,000-5,000), and an Indian carved and painted wood figure of a Brahma bull, on a wood base with silk tassels (Lot 156, estimate: $1,500-2,500). 

 

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Lot 199. A Chinese carved and painted figure of Guanyin seated, possibly Ming dynasty or earlier. Approx. H: 31 1/2 in., 78.6cm. Estimate $3,000-5,000© Freeman's.

Seated in royal ease, a peaceful expression on her face, with jewelry and draped scarves, remnants of pigment. 

ProvenanceProperty from the collection of Ann and Don McPhail, Philadelphia, PA.

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Lot 156. An Indian carved and painted wood figure of a Brahma bull. Approx. H: 47 1/2 in., 120.6cm; L: 46 7/8 in.,119cm; W: 17 7/8 in., 45.4cm. Estimate $1,500-2,500© Freeman's.

On a rectangular wood base with wheels, with articulated male attributes, with associated silk tassels.

Provenance: Property from the collection of Ann and Don McPhail, Philadelphia, PA.

The sale also offers an assortment of Chinese ruyi scepters, including Lot 328, an elaborately carved example from the Qing Dynasty (estimate: $10,000-15,000), and Lot 213, of parcel-gilt cloisonné from the Qianlong period (estimate: $5,000-7,000). In Chinese culture, the ruyi scepter has a long history not only as a congratulatory gift, but also as a symbol of authority. In China, the term “ruyi” is a homophone for “As you wish” or “As you desire,” making the gift of a ruyi scepter a way to convey wishes for good luck or congratulations, often for auspicious birthdays or significant promotions.  

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Lot 328. A Chinese carved "chenxiangmu" ruyi sceptre, Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Approx. H: 15 in., 38 cm. Estimate $10,000-15,000. © Freeman's.

Elaboratly carved in openwork with scrolling tendrils, with a knotted silk double tassel, with yellow fabric-clad box. 

Additional highlights include Lots 115 and 116, an unusual and impressive Japanese "Floral" shibayama spherical koro ($6,000-8,000), and an impressive Japanese parcel gilt and mixed metal patinated bronze koro and cover, ($8,000-12,000), respectively. Both lots are from the Meiji period (1868-1912). Also of note are a Korean calligraphy-inlaid and iron mounted stained wood chest from the Joseon Dynasty, constructed of heavy timbers with substantial pierced iron hardware (Lot 139, estimate $800-1,200), and a Daoist devotional painting from the Ming Dynasty, ink and color on silk, mounted as a hanging scroll (Lot 592, estimate $8,000-12,000). The Chinese painting would have been one of three hanging scrolls, each depicting one of the three highest deities in the later Daoist pantheon. 

 

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Lot 115. An unusual and impressive Japanese "Floral" shibayama spherical koro, Meiji period (1868-1912). Approx. D: 7 1/4 in., 18.5cm; H of vitrine: 20 1/4 in.; 51.5cm. Estimate $6,000-8,000© Freeman's.

Decorated with a profusion of carved and inlaid mother-of-pearl, aogi, and coral flowers, the lacquered interior inset with an incised mother-of-pearl plaque bearing the maker's name; iron stand and European gilt bronze vitrine

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Lot 116. An impressive Japanese parcel gilt and mixed metal patinated bronze koro and cover,Meiji period, last quarter 19th century. Approx. H: 12 3/4 in., 32.3cm. Estimate $8,000-12,000© Freeman's

Rectangular with two handles, lion head knees, shishi finial to slightly domed cover, finely decorated, the sides with reserves depicting pheasants, insects and peonies, the cover with reserves of wisteria and flowering trees, all against an etched and parcel-gilt "brocade" ground. 

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Lot 139. A Korean calligraphy-inlaid and iron mounted stained wood chest, Joseon dynasty, 19th century or earlier. Approx. H: 19 1/4 in., 49.6cm; W: 48 1/4 in., 123.2cm; D: 21 in., 53.3cm. Estimate $800-1,200© Freeman's

Constructed of heavy timbers with substantial pierced iron hardwear, the front inlaid with a lengthy calligraphic inscription, raised on later block feet, later sheet metal lock and key. 

“The sale is noteworthy not only for the broad range of works offered,” said Ben Farina, Head of Asian Arts, “but also for the number of unusual works from a variety of cultures and media."