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Lot 255. A Rare Blue and White Porcelain Hexafoil Bowl, Xuande mark and period (1426-1435). Estimate available upon request. Sold for $1,452,500. Courtesy Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

CHICAGO, IL.- On September 17 the Asian Works of Art auction at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers featured The Stanley Field Early Ming Bowl, a blue and white porcelain hexafoil bowl once belonging to Stanley Field of the iconic Field family. It sold for $1,452,500 after a number of bidders competed by phone, eventually selling to a buyer in the United States. This is the highest price realized globally, outside of Hong Kong and Mainland China, for a bowl of this type offered at auction. 

Responsible for developing Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History in the early 19th century, Stanley Field approved numerous international expeditions that sent renowned anthropologists to remote locations on every continent to gather archaeological and cultural relics. Around the same time, Stanley built a personal collection, which included the early Ming bowl. The September 17 Asian Works of Art auction at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers marks the first time it has been offered for sale. 

From the Xuande emperor’s reign (1426 – 1435), known for the prolific production of porcelain wares, the quality and form of these blue and white pieces resulted in a new appreciation for domestic imperial Ming wares as opposed to vessels of the previous Yongle reign (1403 – 1424) that were mostly designated for trade and tribute. Because of their delicate form and elegant design, these bowls have been admired and sought after by connoisseurs and institutions of Chinese art throughout the 20th century. 

We are thrilled to have brought The Stanley Field Early Ming Bowl to auction,” said Annie Wu, Specialist of Asian Works of Art at Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. “The provenance is of special interest to Chicago, but being fresh to the global market, and of this form and period, further heightened its desirability.” 

From the Stanley Field (1875-1964) Collection

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Lot 255. A Rare Blue and White Porcelain Hexafoil Bowl, Xuande mark and period (1426-1435). Estimate available upon request. Sold for $1,452,500. Courtesy Leslie Hindman Auctioneers

having a lobed mouth rim, the sloping walls raised on a short straight foot, the interior and the exterior painted with fruit and flower branches, the underside incised with a Xuande six-character mark in underglaze blue. 

Note: Despite lasting only ten years, the Xuande emperor's reign was especially known for the prolific production of porcelain wares bearing his name. The quality and forms of these blue and white pieces marks a new appreciation for domestic imperial Ming wares as opposed to the vessels of the previous Yongle reign (1403-1424) that were mostly designated for trade and tribute. 

The unique hexafoil shape of the present bowl may have been inspired by earlier Song Dynasty ceramics. Because of their delicate form and elegant design, these bowls have been admired and sought after by connoisseurs and institutions of Chinese art throughout the 20th century. 

This early Ming bowl once belonged to Stanley Field, the renowned Chicago philanthropist, banker, civic leader and businessman. His uncle Marshall Field (1836-1906) was the founder of Marshall Field and Company, the largest wholesale and retail operation in the world during the latter half of the 19th century. 

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Stanley Field

The Field family was also responsible for developing the Field Museum of Natural History and donating the grounds to the University of Chicago. Stanley Field's father Joseph (Marshall's brother) was based in England and in charge of sourcing European merchandise for the family business. 

Even though Stanley Field worked for Marshall Field and Company throughout his life - from a messenger boy to a top executive - one of his passions was in showcasing Chicago on the international stage. His greatest civic achievements included establishing transcendent spaces like Grant Park and Shedd Aquarium. 

Some of Stanley Field's most important work came during his 58-year tenure as the president of the Field Museum of Natural History. It was during these years that the museum transformed itself from a modest anthropological museum containing holdover objects from the Chicago Columbian Exposition of 1893 to one of the leading museums in the world. 

Stanley Field approved numerous field expeditions, where renowned anthropologists would travel to remote locations on every continent to gather archaeological artifacts from past civilizations. The anthropologist in charge of the China expeditions was the famed German Berthold Laufer (1874-1934). Fluent in numerous East Asian languages including Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan and Mongolian, Laufer was the curator of Anthropology at the Field Museum from 1908 until his sudden death in 1934. He led the museum's Blackstone Exhibition in 1908 and the Captain Marshall Field Expedition in 1923. In total, these trips brought back over 19,000 Chinese objects for the museum. 

Similar examples of this type of bowl can be found in many major museums around the world including the Palace Museum, Beijing; the National Palace Museum, Taipei; the Shanghai Museum; the David Collection, London; the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco and the Art Institute of Chicago. 

Over the past ten years, similar examples of this lobed bowl have been sold at auction including an example from the Collection of a Japanese Pharmaceutical Company, purchased from Sotheby's Hong Kong, 10 April 2006, lot 1660, and sold again at Sotheby's New York 'Ming: The Intervention of Imperial Taste', 14 March 2017, lot 7; one from The Pilkington Collection of Chinese Art sold at Sotheby's Hong Kong, 6 April 2016, lot 20; another formerly from the Manno Museum Osaka, purchased from Christie's Hong Kong, 24 April 2004, lot 952, was sold again at Christie's Hong Kong 'The Imperial Sale: Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art', 31 May 2010, lot 1856; and finally, an example reputedly from the Summer Palace, Beijing, formerly from the collection of K. L. Dawes, John F. Woodthorpe, Frederick M. Mayer, and sold at Christie's London, 24 June 1974, lot 90, sold again at Sotheby's Hong Kong 'The Meiyintang Collection Part II', 5 October 2011, lot 12. 

In addition to The Stanley Field Early Ming Bowl, property from other notable collections was included in the sale: Property from the Collection of the Bergland Family, St. Charles, Illinois; Property from the Estate of Henry Stollnitz, New York, New York; and Property Sold to Benefit the Fund of the Heritage Museum of Asian Art, Chicago, Illinois.  

Chinese furniture from the collection of the Bergland family showed notable interest. Huanghuali furniture sold particularly well. A set of six Huanghuali side chairs sold at $55,000 against a presale estimate of $10,000 - 20,000; a Huanghuali square stool sold for $21,250 (estimated at $5,000 - 6,000); and a Huanghuali scroll table sold for $68,750 (estimated at $6,000 - 8,000). Also from the Bergland collection, a Chinese Tielimu scroll table exceeded expectations selling at $87,500 against a presale estimate of $6,000 - 8,000. 

 

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Lot 118. A Set of Six Chinese Huanghuali Side Chairs, Dengguayi, Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Each height 44 3/8 x width 21 1/4 x depth 16 inches. Estimate: $10000 to $20000. Sold for: $55,000. Courtesy Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

each having a shaped crestrail above a back splat and a pair of rounded posts extending to rounded legs, the square soft-mat seat set in a square panel above openworked aprons, the legs joined by a footrail in front and back stretchers. 

Property from the Collection of the Bergland Family, St. Charles, Illinois 

Provenance: Acquired from Zitan Oriental Antiques, Hong Kong, October 11, 1990.

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Lot 120. A Chinese Huanghuali Square Stool, FangdengMing dynasty, likely 17th century. Height 16 3/4 x width 18 5/8 x depth 18 5/8 inches. Estimate: $5000 to $6000. Sold for: $21,250Courtesy Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

the soft-mat seat set in a wide frame, above a recessed waist and shaped aprons carved with foliate scrolls, supported on a curved square sectioned legs.

Property from the Collection of the Bergland Family, St. Charles, Illinois 

Provenance: Acquired from Zitan Oriental Antiques, Hong Kong, August 24, 1997.

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Lot 117. A Chinese Huanghuali Scroll Table, Huazhuo, Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Height 30 x width 78 1/4 x depth 40 1/2 inches. Estimate: $6000 to $8000. Sold for: $68,750. Courtesy Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

the large rectangular top above beaded aprons, raised on square sectioned legs joined by arched stretchers. 

Property from the Collection of the Bergland Family, St. Charles, Illinois 

Provenance: Acquired from Zitan Oriental Antiques, Hong Kong, October 11, 1990.

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Lot 137. A Chinese Tielimu Scroll Table, Hua'an, 18th/19th century. Height 32 x width 74 1/2 x depth 24 5/8 inches. Estimate: $6000 to $8000. Sold for: $87,500. Courtesy Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. 

the top floating panel set within a rectangular frame, above plain aprons and spandrels, supported on slightly spreading legs join by two pairs of stretchers. 

Property from the Collection of the Bergland Family, St. Charles, Illinois 

Provenance: Acquired from Zitan Oriental Antiques, Hong Kong

Property Sold to Benefit the Fund of the Heritage Museum of Asian Art in Chicago, Illinois included a Chinese Zitan throne chair, which sold for $93,750 against a presale estimate of $10,000 - 15,000 and a Chinese Fahua porcelain stool that sold for $15,000 (estimated at $2,000 - 4,000). Property from the Estate of Henry Stollnitz featured a selection of Chinese porcelain, including a Chinese copper red glazed porcelain tazza that sold for $11,250 (estimated at $7,000 - 9,000). 

 

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Lot 30. A Chinese Zitan Throne Chair, Baozuo, Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Height 41 1/2 x width 30 1/4 x depth 25 1/2 inches. Estimate: $10000 to $15000. Sold for: $93,750. Courtesy Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

the central back panel carved with five winged bats amongst clusters of clouds, the side rails both carved to show ribbon-tied Buddhist emblems amidst auspicious clouds, the rectangular seat above shaped aprons decorated with Greek key motifs, all supported on square sectioned legs joined by four humpback stretchers, the underside bearing a deaccession number "20th c-Fox 32.1.20955 1-30-46 D.18". 

Property sold to benefit the fund of Heritage Museum of Asian Art, Chicago, Illinois 

Exhibited: Heritage Museum of Asian Art, Chicago, Illinois.

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Lot 70. A Chinese Fahua Porcelain Stool, Gudeng, Ming dynasty (1368-1644). Height 14 3/8 inches; with stand overall 26 3/8 inches. Estimate: $2000 to $4000. Sold for: $15,000. Courtesy Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

of barrel form, having a ring of raised circular bosses beneath the mouth rim and above the base, the body flanked by two lion's masks with open jaws forming handles, with carved decoration depicting writhing dragons pursuing a flaming pearl in a pierce carved sky of scrolled clouds, with a copper cylindrical liner, the base pierced, raised on a bronze stand having scrolled foliate cabriole legs and base. 

 

Property sold to benefit the fund of Heritage Museum of Asian Art, Chicago, Illinois 

A Chinese Copper Red Glazed Porcelain Tazza, Qianlong period (1736-1795)

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Lot 92. A Chinese Copper Red Glazed Porcelain Tazza, Qianlong period (1736-1795). Diameter 8 1/2 inches. Estimate: $7000 to $9000. Sold for: $11,250. Courtesy Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

having shallow rounded sides rising to a tall spreading foot decorated with a single rib, the underside bearing a Qianlong six-character mark in underglaze blue. 

Property from the Estate of Henry Stollnitz, New York, New York.

Other highlights of the sale include a large Chinese imperial silk and metallic thread carpet that sold for $57,500 against a $20,000 - 30,000 presale estimate; a Sino-Tibetan gilt bronze figure of Mahakala that sold for $22,500 (estimated at $10,000 - 15,000); a large Chinese embroidered silk inset mother-of-pearl inlaid Hongmu screen that sold for $27,500 (estimated at $2,000 - 4,000); and a large Zitan altar coffer that sold for $23,750 (estimated at $4,000 - 6,000). 

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Lot 155. A Large Chinese Imperial Silk and Metallic Thread Carpet, late Qing dynasty; 105 x 62 1/2 inches. Estimate: $20000 to $30000. Sold for: $57,500. Courtesy Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. 

of large retangular form, finely woven with metallic threads depicting two pavilions and a pair of cranes surrounding by lotus scrolls against a brown ground, the borders with flowering branches and keyfret bands, the top register embroidered with five characters reading Ningshou Gong beiyong ("For the use in the Palace of Heavenly Tranquility"). 

Property from the Collection of Thomas Bierbrodt, Mundelein, Illinois 

Note: For three examples with similar marks, see the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, accession number 63.58; The Imperial Sale: Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Christie's Hong Kong, April 29, 2002, sale 2110, lot 583; The Lai Family Collection of Fine Chinese Furniture and Works of Art, Christie's New York, September 17, 2015, sale 3769, lot 962. 

For five examples with similar decoration, see Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, Sotheby's London, November 8, 2002, lot 95; November 9, 2011, lot 133; November 6, 2013, lot 296; and two from the MGM Art Collection, Macau

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Lot 184. A Sino-Tibetan Gilt Bronze Figure of Mahakala, 18th/19th century. Height 9 3/4 inches. Estimate: $10000 to $15000. Sold for: $22,500. Courtesy Leslie Hindman Auctioneers. 

the deity depicted standing on a single lotus base, the six hands in various mudras, the naked body adorned with beaded jewelry with his back covered with a large tiger skin, all three faces cast with ferocious expressions, the flame-form hair secured by a crown with an animal mask. 

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Lot 552. A Large Chinese Embroidered Silk Inset Mother-of-Pearl Inlaid Hongmu Screen, Canton, 19th century. Height of embroidery 29 1/2 x width 20 3/4 inches. Estimate: $2000 to $4000. Sold for: $27,500. Courtesy Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

of rectangular form, finely worked to show magpies, cranes, a peacock, pheasants and butterflies enclosing pine trees, all reserved on a champagne colored ground, set within a hongmu frame with mother-of-pearl inlaid flora scrolls, mounted as a large table screen. 

Property from the Collection of Richard and Diane Fisher, Bayside, Wisconsin 

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Lot 495. A Large Zitan Altar Coffer, Liansanchu. Height 49 1/4 x width 72 x depth 22 inches. Estimate: $4000 to $6000. Sold for: $23,750. Courtesy Leslie Hindman Auctioneers.

the rectangular top panel ending in protruding terminals, raised above three drawers each front panel carved with two immortals, a pair of doors carved with dragon decoratoin opening to a shelf, flanked by a pair of reticulated spandres depicting immortals above clouds, having brass mounts. 

The September 17 Asian Works of Art auction was conducted to a room of bidders who traveled to participate in the Chicago saleroom in addition to robust phone and online bidding.