Lot 109. A magnificent Chinese silk kesi 'Peach Festival' hanging scroll, Qing dynasty (1644-1911), 175 x 89cm. Sold for £21,000. © 2020 Sworders
LONDON.- A magnificent Qing dynasty (1644-1911) embroidered silk hanging scroll topped Sworders' Asian art sale on May 28 selling at £21,000. With quality Chinese and Japanese works of art performing strongly throughout the sale, this was a truly global event attracting bidding from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Italy, Germany, USA, Austria, Sweden and the UK .
The silk kepi scroll, dating from the 19th century depicts the folkloric Peach Festival, a highly auspicious event held once every 6000 years at the celestial Jade Palace in Paradise. It shows a pantheon of Daoist immortals and deities celebrating as the goddess Xiwangmu, Queen Mother of the West, descends gracefully from the sky seated astride her phoenix. As part of her birthday festivities she bestows upon her followers great fortune and perhaps one of the peaches of immortality. Objects on the theme are favourite birthday gifts in China.
Purchased by the London vendor in Hong Kong in the 1980s, it was entered for sale with a guide of £8000-10,000. The buyer was from Austria.
Major purchasers such as this are being made with increasing confidence online. With the saleroom closed to the public, Sworders sought to provide multiple images and detailed condition reports online to provide buyers with all the information they need to make informed purchasing decisions.
Lot 109. A magnificent Chinese silk kesi 'Peach Festival' hanging scroll, Qing dynasty (1644-1911); 175 x 89cm. Estimate £8000-10,000. Sold for £21,000. © 2020 Sworders
richly embroidered in bright colours with a lively scene depicting immortals celebrating the birthday of Xiwangmu, Queen Mother of the West, of a pantheon of Daoist immortals and deities, including He He Erxian, Liu Hai, Shoulao and the Eight Immortals, on a garden terrace with lingzhi, pine and peach trees issuing from rockwork, awaiting the arrival of Xiwangmu, who descends from the sky seated astride her phoenix with her entourage of attendants, a crane in flight above,
Note: The ‘Peach Festival’, according to legend, takes place every 3000 years at the Jade Palace in the Kunlun Mountains in the Western paradise. A traditional Daoist theme, the festival is part of the celebrations for Xiwangmu’s birthday, during which she gifts immortals with the Peaches of Eternal Life, so their immortality may continue. This scroll captures the moment the immortals wait in anticipation for Xiwangmu, who is seen making a grand entrance on the back of a phoenix. The panel’s auspicious theme made it ideal to present at birthdays.
For a similar lot, see Sotheby's, London, 13 May 2015, lot 122.
A collection of Chinese textiles came with an exceptional provenance. The nine lots, including embroidered silk garments and panels, have been consigned by descendants of William Orr Leitch (1871-1948), a Victorian engineer who left Scotland in 1897 to work on the Chinese government railway. The Leitch family remained in China throughout the Boxer Rebellion, periods of Japanese rule and the civil war. However, they later returned to Edinburgh taking up residence in Gordon Square where they furnished a home with many treasures.
Among the pieces retained by the Leitch family is a Qing dynasty (1644-1911) embroidered kesi red and black robe, a luxury garment decorated with the auspicious motifs of butterflies and double gourds. To the hem is a splendid border of rocks and precious objects amongst waves while borders of key fret are picked out in gold thread. It carried an estimate of £1500-2500 but sold to a Chinese buyer at £6200.
Lot 100. A Chinese embroidered kesi red robe, Qing dynasty (1644-1911); 198cm across the arms, 141cm long. Estimate £1500-2500. Sold for £6200. © 2020 Sworders
decorated with roundels of butterflies between tendrilled double gourds against a red ground, above rocks and precious objects amongst waves, the sleeves similarly decorated on a black ground with key fret borders in gold thread.
Sold at £11,000, this time against an estimate of £300-500 was another example of Qing courtly dress – an official's hat with a jade and glass ball finial offered together with a hardstone beaded chaozhu necklace consisting of 108 beads with spacers and pendant drops.
Lot 219. A Chinese official's hat, with a glass ball finial and a jade tube ornament, above red tassels covering the circular domed top, 32.5cm diameter, and a beaded chaozhu, consisting of 108 beads with spacers and pendant drops in hardstone, 110cm long. Estimate £300-500. Sold for £11,000. © 2020 Sworders
Two Chinese works from a London private collection formed in the middle of the 20th century were also well received. A bronze censer and cover with elephant feet, handles and a recumbent elephant finial sold at £7000 to a Chinese buyer. Standing 50cm high it had a honorific four-character Xuande seal mark but probably dated from the 18th or 19th century.
Lot 70. A Chinese bronze incense burner, 18th century or later; 50cm high. Sold for £7,000. © 2020 Sworders
of tapering form on three elephant feet, moulded with scrolling lotus in relief, elephant handles, the domed cover with pierced scrolling lotus and a recumbent elephant finial, four-character Xuande seal mark in zhuanshu.
Provenance: Private collection, London; collected about the middle of the 20th century.
A pair of celadon jade table screens, each on a tall hardwood stand carved as a recumbent buffalo, were carved to one side with ducks among weeds below an inscription and a four-character Qianlong seal mark. They too made £7000, this time selling to a London buyer.
Lot 55. A pair of Chinese table screens; 31cm diameter. Sold for £7,000. © 2020 Sworders
the jadeite roundels carved to one side with ducks swimming among weeds below an inscription 'Qiu Jiang Su Yan, Chen Dong Gao Fengchi Jingshu' with a four-character Qianlong seal, the reverse with birds and a flowering tree, the stone of mottled celadon colour suffused with pale brown and pale lavender, each on a tall hardwood stand carved as a recumbent buffalo below a cloud.
Provenance: Private collection, London; collected about the middle of the 20th century.
Blue and white porcelain made during the Kangxi (1662-1722) period remains popular with both Western and Eastern buyers. Here a triple gourd vase painted with two literati in a rocky landscape sold at £3500 while a wine cup painted with ladies with a tree and a planter took £3200.
Lot 7. A Chinese blue and white triple gourd vase, Kangxi (1662-1722). 23.5cm high. Sold for £3500 . © 2020 Sworders
on a short circular foot with a flared mouth, painted with two literati in a rocky landscape or with precious objects,
Provenance: From a private collection inherited in 1950s from family in Holland Park, London.
Lot 5. A Chinese blue and white cup, Kangxi (1662-1722). 6.1cm diameter. Sold for £3200 . © 2020 Sworders
of tapering form on a circular foot, with a flared mouth, painted with ladies with a tree and a planter, six-character Kangxi mark.
Provenance: Acquired from a private collector in the Netherlands in 1970-80s; purchased from Vanderven Oriental Art in 2018.
Two very different Japanese works on paper performed with equal gusto, both making ten-times-estimate sums for a private vendor from Hertfordshire.
A woodcut print by the great Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) from the series Shokoku Taki Meguri (Going Around Waterfalls in Various Provinces) sold to a US buyer at £5800 (estimate £500-800). Published c.1833-34, this scene depicts the waterfall at Yoshino, in Yamato where, as detailed in the inscription, a legendary warrior hero Yoshitsune was said to have washed his horse.
Lot 147. Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), from the series Shokoku Taki Meguri (Going Around Waterfalls in Various Provinces), With Subtitle Washu Yoshino Yoshitsune Basen No Taki, the legend tells that the warrior hero Yoshitsune washed his horse at this waterfall, at Yoshino, in Yamato Province. Woodblock, c.1833-4, signed within the print Zen Hokusai Iitsu hitsu, with censor's seal Kiwame and publisher's mark Eijudo;image 37 x 25.5cm approximately, framed and glazed. Estimate £500-800. Sold for £5800. © 2020 Sworders
Provenance: Sotheby's, London, 19 November 1997, lot 22.
Note: Other impressions are reproduced in the catalogue of the Uragami Collection, 'Ukiyo-e no bi', published by Yamaguchi Prefectural Museum. 1983, no.72 (in colour), and Matthi Forrer, 'Hokusai', Royal Academy of Art London, 1991, no.46.
Hammered down to a London client at £11,000 (estimate £1000-1500) was Homage, an ink painting by Toko Shinoda (b.1913) – the first Sworders had offered for sale. Toko was described in a 1983 Time magazine article as 'A conservative renegade and a liberal traditionalist' and this is borne out in this work of 2009 which marries the tradition of ancient calligraphy with modern abstraction.
Lot 139. Toko Shinoda (b.1913), Homage, painted in Sumi ink, 2009, signed l.r.; image 45cm x 31.3cm approximately, framed and glazed. Estimate £1000-1500. Sold for £11,000. © 2020 Sworders
Note: 'A conservative renegade; a liberal traditionalist...'; this is how Toko was described in a 1983 TIME magazine article and this is borne out in her work, which manages to effortlessly marry the tradition of ancient calligraphy with the abstract of modern art. She held her first exhibition at the age of twenty, and her works can now be seen in numerous permanent collections, such as those in the British Museum, New York’s Museum of Modern Art and the Rijks Museum in Amsterdam, and other leading institutions around the world.