PARIS.- On December 10th, the Asian Art department of Christie’s France will offer a selection of over 200 works from private European and Asian collections, covering more than 3,000 years of Asian art. All the richness of Asian art and the different mediums in which it unfolds will highlighted, with the sale offering important works of Buddhist art, Samurai art, but also Japanese screens, ancient ceramics, porcelain from the Ming and Qing dynasties, jade sculptures, cloisonné enamels, huanghuali furniture, textiles and finally classical and modern Chinese paintings.
Among the highlights are two large bronze statues of Bodhisattvas from the 13th century, coming from an important private European collection (estimate:€80,000- 120,000 et €70,000-90,000). Impressive in size and delicacy, they are among the most important Tibetan sculptures ever sold by William H. Wolff, a renowned Asian art dealer whose gallery was based in New York. One appears in the catalog of the exhibition "Dieux et Démons de l’Himalaya" presented at the Grand Palais in 1977 (March 25 - June 27) and both are illustrated in Ulrich von Schroeder's reference work, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes. Hong Kong: Visual Dharma, Publications Ltd, 1981, p. 131, n° 22 C-D.
Lot 59. Rare et importante statue d'Avalokiteshvara en bronze, Tibet de l'ouest, circa XIIIème siècle. Hauteur: 104 cm. (41 in.), socle. Estimate EUR 80,000 - EUR 120,000 (USD 94,947 - USD 142,420). © Christie's Images Ltd 2020
Il est représenté debout en léger tribhanga, sa main droite le long de son corps est en varadamudra, sa main gauche est posée à hauteur de sa ceinture ouvragée. Il est vêtu d'un dhoti et porte une écharpe de fleurs autour de ses épaules retombant jusqu'à ses chevilles. Il est paré de bracelets, colliers et boucles d'oreille. Son visage est serein. Ses cheveux sont coiffés en un haut chignon, deux tresses retombent sur ses épaules. Son front est ceint d'une tiare. Rehauts de polychromie.
The dating is consistent with the Oxford Authentification thermoluminescence test no. N120e74, 5 October 2020.
Provenance: Collection of William H. Wolff, New York, 1973-1990.
European private collection, acquired from the above, 3 February 1990, thence by descent in the family.
Literature: G. Béguin, Dieux et Démons de l'Himalaya, Editions des Musées Nationaux, Paris, 1977, p. 91, fig. 47.
U. von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, Hong Kong : Visual Dharma Publications Ltd., 1981, p. 131, n° 22D.
Exhibited: Dieux et Démons de l'Himalaya, Grand palais 25 March-27 June 1977, Paris.
Note: The present sculpture and the following lot, both large and impressively cast, are some of the most important Tibetan sculptures ever sold by the esteemed dealer of Asian art, William H. Wolff, whose gallery was based in New York. One was first published in 1977 in the catalogue of the exhibition Dieux et Démons de l'Himalaya that i curated in the Grand palais which took place in 1977 (25 March-27 June).
Both figures were correctly attributed by Ulrich von Schroeder in his seminal 1981 tome, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes. One of the figures depicts the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, with his right hand shown in the gesture of charity, varadamudra. He is further identified by the antelope head that is draped over the proper left shoulder, in this case depicted in a somewhat stylized representation. The other figure depicts the bodhisattva, Vajrapani, who would have held a vajra, or thunderbolt, upright in the proper right hand in front of the chest (although the vajra is currently missing, the attachment prong at the center of the torso is still visible).
It is likely the present two bronzes were once part of a larger group depicting the Eight Great Bodhisattvas, a grouping that became popular with the rise of Mahayana Buddhism. In Tibetan monasteries, these figures would have typically been arranged along the side walls of the assembly room. See, for example, a grouping of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas at Sera Monastery, near Lhasa, illustrated by U. von Schroeder in Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet, vol. II, Hong Kong, 2001, p. 948-949.
The current works display many features that are characteristic of the art of Western Tibet from eleventh to thirteenth centuries: the diadem composed of foliate finials emerging from semi-circular lotus motifs, and the squarish face with conjoined eyebrows and hooked nose. Also typical of this period is the triangular torso with geometrical musculature, with the navel marked by crossing folds. These characteristics can be traced to the influence of both the Kashmiri and Pala sculptural styles. Compare the present works with an example in the Pritzker Collection, illustrated by P. Pal in Himalayas: An Aesthetic Adventure, Berkeley, 2003, p. 135, cat. no. 85. See, also, an example from the John D. Rockefeller III Collection at Asia Society New York, illustrated by P. Pal, ibid., p. 135, cat. no. 86. Finally, compare with an example at the Musée des Arts Asiatiques-Guimet in Paris, illustrated by G. Béguin in L'Inde et le monde indianisé au Musée national des Arts Asiatiques – Guimet, Paris, 1992, p. 132.
Honorary General Curator
Former Director of Cernuschi Museum
Lot 60. Rare et importante statue de Vajrapani en bronze, Tibet de l'ouest, circa XIIIème siècle. Hauteur: 96 cm. (37 ¾ in.), socle. Estimate EUR 70,000 - EUR 90,000 (USD 83,078 - USD 106,815). © Christie's Images Ltd 2020.
Il est représenté debout en léger tribhanga, sa main droite à hauteur de son ventre portait à l'origine un attribut aujourd'hui manquant, sa main gauche tombe le long de sa cuisse. Il est vêtu d'un dhoti et porte une ceinture ouvragée et une écharpe de fleurs autour de ses épaules. Il est paré de bracelets, colliers et boucles d'oreille. Son visage est serein. Ses cheveux sont coiffés en un haut chignon, deux tresses retombent sur ses épaules. Son front est ceint d'une tiare. Rehauts de polychromie.
The dating is consistent with the Oxford Authentification thermoluminescence test no. N120e73, 5 October 2020
Provenance: Collection of William H. Wolff, New York, 1973-1990.
European private collection, acquired from the above, 3 February 1990, thence by descent in the family.
Literature: U. von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, Hong Kong : Visual Dharma Publications Ltd., 1981, p. 131, n° 22C.
Another wonderful sculpture from a Belgian collection is an important Khmer sandstone statue of a male deity from the Angkor Wat period, 12th century, estimated at €100,000-150,000. The present figure is expertly modeled, suggesting a very large commission. The variety of geometric and ornamental forms that decorate the garments testifies to the complexity and fine detail of Khmer sculpture that persisted throughout the empire.
Lot 84. Importante statue de divinité masculine en grès, Cambodge, Khmer, Époque Angkor Vat, XIIème siècle. Hauteur: circa 110 cm. (43 ¼ in.). Estimate EUR 100,000 - EUR 150,000 (USD 118,683 - USD 178,025). © Christie's Images Ltd 2020.
Il est représenté debout en samabhanga, le torse nu. Il est vêtu d'un sampot plissé maintenu à la taille, un pan rabattu sur le côté gauche, un double pan en forme de queue de poisson retombant sur le devant, un autre pan en forme de papillon à l'arrière.
Provenance: Claude de Marteau collection, Belgium, acquired with Wiesen Antiques, Bangkok, 17 February 1969.
Acquired by the present owner on 19 January 2007 from Claude de Marteau.
Note: This figure dates from the Angkor Wat period, in the twelfth century, when the Khmer Empire was at its territorial zenith. This starts with the reign of Suryavarman II (r. 1113-1145), who ordered the construction of Angkor Wat, the largest temple of the Angkor period, dedicated to Vishnu. The last great king of the period, Jayavarman VII (r. 1181-1218), expanded into the territories of the Champa to the east. Jayavarman VII also adopted Mahayana Buddhism as the official state religion, replacing the cult of Vishnu which had predominated in the Khmer Empire for previous centuries.
Stylistically, the sculpture of the Angkor Wat period is marked by a return to the somewhat angular and upright modeling of the periods preceding the Baphuon style of the eleventh century. This angularity can be seen in the wide shoulders and hips of the upper torso, as well as in the drapery of the sampot, which sits roughly straight across the hips, and in the fish-tail folds which fall in heavy vertical pleats, in contrast to the earlier Baphuon period in which the drapery is full of curling flourishes.
The present figure is expertly modelled, suggesting an elite commission. The range of geometric and ornamental forms that decorate the garments is testament to the complexity and detail of Khmer craftsmanship that persisted throughout the empire. The short sampot is arranged in multiple patterns, including tightly spaced vertical pleats around the right leg enhanced by a fishtail fold, and loosely fanned diagonal waves across the left. A double-anchor fold bridges the thighs reaching the hem of the sampot which is well known on male sculptures during the Angkor wat period. The gathered fabric is pulled snugly between the legs from the verso and then set in an elegant crest on back and front just below the top of the sampot. The whole arrangement is secured with a broad belt of double ovals pattern which is characteristic for the Angkor Wat period.
Another remarkable lot is a rare lacquer box and cover dating from the Yongle period (1403- 1425), from the collection of his royal highness, Prince Henry, Duke of Gloucester, estimated €80,000-120,000. The exquisite carving and naturalistic depiction of hibiscus flowers is of a very rare quality, characteristic of lacquer carving in the early Ming period. It represents one of the most beautiful decorations to be found in the Chinese decorative repertoire and "the delicacy of its rendering echoes the blue-decorated porcelains made during the reign of Xuande," said Clarence F. Shangraw in his article "Chinese lacquers at the Museum of Asian Art in San Francisco", Orientations, April 1986, pp. 22-41.
Lot 162. Rare et importante boîte couverte en laque rouge, Chine, dynastie Ming, Epoque Yongle (1403-1425), marque incisée à six caractères possiblement d'époque. Diamètre: 31,5 cm. (12 3/8 in.) ; hauteur : 8,6 cm. (3 3/8 in.). Estimate EUR 80,000 - EUR 120,000 (USD 94,947 - USD 142,420). © Christie's Images Ltd 2020
Le couvercle est délicatement sculpté en relief en laque rouge de trois grandes fleurs d'hibiscus épanouies parmi des feuilles luxuriantes. Le pourtour du couvercle est à décor de dix fleurs différentes dont celles des quatre saisons : pivoine, lotus, chrysanthème et camélia, représentant dans l'ordre le printemps, l'été, l'automne et l'hiver et celui de la boîte est sculpté de pivoines parmi les feuillages alternativement tête en bas et tête en haut. La base laquée noire porte une inscription incisée à six caractères Da Ming Yongle Nian Zhi.
Provenance: Thence by direct descent to his son His Royal Highness Prince Richard, Duke of Gloucester.
John Sparks Ltd.(according to label).
Note: The exquisite carving and naturalistic depiction of hibiscus flowers on the present box is very rare and is characteristic of carved lacquerware from the early Ming period, which represents some of the finest decoration found in the Chinese decorative repertoire. The rendering of the hibiscus is characterised by the deep naturalistic carving, and as Clarence F. Shangraw observes in his article 'Chinese Lacquers in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco', Orientations, April 1986, pp. 22-41, "The lacquer style of the Yongle era echoes that of the underglaze-blue decorated porcelains and continued into the subsequent Xuande reign".
Among the earliest surviving depictions of autumn hibiscus on the decorative arts is a rare Southern Song (1127-1279) or Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) square painted lacquer tray in the collection of the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, which has a spray of these flowers painted in colours and gold in the centre (see Terese Tse Bartholomew, The Hundred Flowers – Botanical Motifs in Chinese Art, San Francisco, 1985, no. 41). Autumn hibiscus also appear on a famous circular carved lacquer ‘birds’ dish in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, illustrated by J.C.Y. Watt and B. Brennan Form in East Asian Lacquer – The Florence and Herbert Irving Collection, New York, 1991, pp. 68-9, no. 19.
A number of related boxes of varying sizes bearing Yongle and/or Xuande reign marks have been published decorated with one, three, five or seven blooms to the top of the cover. The closest example in terms of design to the present box is another example in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Gugong Bowu Yuancang Diaoqi, Wenwu Chubanshe, 1985, no 34. A Xuande and Yongle-marked 'camellia' box decorated with three blooms from the Dr. Ip Yee and Lee Family collections was sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 1 December 2009, lot 1819. Another example with a Xuande mark in the Palace Museum collection, Beijing is illustrated in Lacquer Wares of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties, The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Commercial Press, Hong Kong, 2006, p.46, no. 29. A 'peony' box (21.9 cm. diam.) incised with a Yongle mark and decorated with five flowerheads is in the National Palace Museum, Taipei and was included in the Special Exhibition of Lacquer Wares in the National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1981, and exhibited in the Catalogue, no. 8.
The repertoire of floral decoration on extant boxes belonging to this group includes camellia, chrysanthemum and hibiscus as well as peony. Cf. the 'camellia' box included in the British Museum exhibition, Chinese and Associated Lacquer from the Garner Collection, 1973, and illustrated in the catalogue, no. 32; an example from the Nezu Art Museum, exhibited at the Tokyo National Museum, Exhibition of Oriental Lacquer Arts, 1977, Catalogue, no. 506; and another in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Zhongguo Qiqi Quanji, vol. 5, Ming, Fujian meishu chubanshe, 1995, pl. 17. Other examples of Yongle boxes of varying sizes and differing numbers of flowerheads in the Palace Museum Beijing are illustrated in op. cit., Wenwu Chubanshe, 1985, nos. 31-42.
Collectors will have the opportunity to acquire a magnificent imperial bowl of great finesse covered with painted enamel, along with its cover and saucer, dating from the Yongzheng-Qianlong period (1723-1795), estimated at €100,000-150,000. This ensemble has been exceptionally well preserved. Made of copper, the three pieces have been extremely skillfully enameled using the full range of colors available to 18th century Chinese craftsmen. Two comparable cups and saucers, are found in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Inspired by mythological scenes evoking the four seasons as well as the decorative style of the millefleurs, they reflect the fascination for the European style at the Chinese court.
Lot 129. Rare bol couvert et sa soucoupe en émaux peints, Chine, Dynastie Qing, Epoque Yongzheng-Qianlong (1723-1795). Hauteur du bol sans couvercle: 8,5 cm. (3 3/8 in.) ; Hauteur totale avec le couvercle: 13,5 cm. (5 ½ in.) ; Diamètre de la soucoupe: 14,5 cm. (5 ¾ in.). Estimate EUR 100,000 - EUR 150,000 (USD 119,179 - USD 178,769). © Christie's Images Ltd 2020.
Le bol est de forme évasée reposant sur un piédouche légèrement renflé. Il est très délicatement peint de quatre scènes mythologiques mettant en scène notamment une fois sur le bol et une fois sur la soucoupe, Cybele sur son char tiré par deux lions, Vertumne déguisé en vieille femme et Pomone deux chiens couchés à ses pieds. Les scènes sont inclues dans des médaillons polylobés dessinés à l'or surmontés d'une croix en réserve sur fond de semis richement fleuri. Le pied est peint d'une abondance de fruits, le col souligné d'une bande de fleurs stylisées se répétant le long des bords du couvercle. Le couvercle est décoré du même semis fleuri multicolore sur fond vert, la prise est en forme fruit. La soucoupe est ornée au centre d'une des quatres scènes mythologiques présentes sur le bol en réserve sur fond de fleurs et la même frise souligne ses bords. Les revers et les intérieurs sont émaillés blanc.
A Rare Imperial Enamelled Cup and Saucer
Rosemary Scott, Senior International Academic Consultant, Asian Art
This very rare high-footed cup has, unusually, been preserved with both its cover and its saucer. All three pieces are made of copper and have been extremely skilfully enamelled using the full range of colours available to 18th century Chinese craftsmen. Two cups and saucers bearing the same design are in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. These bear museum numbers C.39&A-1962.
Chinese shallow cup with saucer, showing European-style scenes with Classical goddesses and flowers, 1730-1745. Painted enamel on copper. Diameter: 14.6 cm saucer. Museum no. C.39-1962. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Cup and saucer, Qing dynasty, 1730-1745. Copper painted in coloured enamels, Imperial workshops, Beijing, W.E. Clark Bequest, Museum no. C.31-1969. © Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
Interestingly, while the V&A saucers appear to be identical to the current example – in both size and decoration - the cups are of less elaborate shape. The Victoria and Albert cups have a lower foot and do not have the more everted and dished mouth of the current cup. The dished mouth holds the cover of the current cup in place and it is noteworthy that the Victoria and Albert Museum cups do not have covers. The cover of the current cup complements it particularly well and the gilded finial adds further luxury to an already sumptuous design.
A further saucer of the same size and design from the Mottahedeh Collection was illustrated by J.A. Lloyd Hyde in Chinese Painted Enamels from Private and Museum Collections, New York, 1969, no. 19. This publication dates the saucer, which was formerly in the collection of C.T. Loo, Paris, to the Yongzheng reign (1723-1735), while the Victoria and Albert Museum dates their cups and saucers to 1730-1745 – a period covering the end of the Yongzheng reign and the early years of the Qianlong reign (1736-1795). It is clear that these vessels are of the highest quality and were made when enamel decoration was at its apogee in China. The quality and variety of the enamels themselves and the consummate skill with which they have been painted also mark them out as products of the imperial workshops in Beijing.
The decoration on the current covered cup and saucer, as well as those in the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Mottahedeh collection, is European-inspired – from the complex, and beautifully painted, millefleurs borders to the mythological scenes within the decorative panels. A number of the European scenes which appear on Chinese porcelain and metalware are clearly inspired by engravings, and it is likely that this is the case with the design on the current vessels. The main panel depicts the mythological Goddess Cybele, in a chariot drawn by lions, being offered a laurel wreath by a peasant woman. Cybele was a goddess of ancient origins, who is associated with Phrygia in Anatolia, where she appears to already have been regarded as a Mother figure, and in a 6th century BCE inscription is designated matar kubileya, ‘Mother of the Mountain’. Between the 6th and the 4th centuries BCE worship of Cybele spread from Anatolia and Syria to Crete, other Aegean islands, and to mainland Greece. Cybele was worshipped by the Greek population of Alexandria as ‘Mother of the Gods, the Saviour who Hears our Prayers’ and as ‘Mother of the Gods, the Accessible One’. It is interesting to note that these names are similar to those given to the Buddhist deity Avalokitesvara or Guanyin.
Cybele is often depicted with a tympanum or tympanon - a type of frame drum or tambourine, which could be played using the hand or stick. She is also usually accompanied by two lions, either seated on either side of her throne or pulling her chariot, as on the current vessels. According to mythology, these lions were Atalanta and Hippomenes who were turned into lions by the gods as a punishment for desecrating a temple. In the early 3rd century BCE a cult object said to embody Cybele as the Great Mother was removed from Anatolia to Rome and her cult was adopted there. In the reign of the Roman Emperor Augustus (63 BCE-14 CE) Cybele was particularly honoured and her temple, which was next to the imperial palace on the Palatine Hill, was restored. In Roman mythology Cybele was known as Magna Mater deorum Idaea (Great Idaean Mother of the Gods).
As is pointed out in an online note from the Victoria and Albert Museum in relation to their similar cup and saucer, despite the origins of their decoration, these vessels were not intended for the western market, but reflected a fascination with European style at the Chinese court – Occidentalism - a counterpart to the vogue for Asian styles which swept Europe. European figures and scenes appear on a number of imperial enamelled wares of the second quarter of the 18th century with metal and with porcelain bases. Panels of this type decorate imperial cloisonne enamel wares preserved in the Chinese imperial collections, such as those illustrated Enamel Ware in the Ming and Ch’ing Dynasties, Taipei, 1999, nos. 37, 38, 40, and 41. European figures also appear in panels on either side of a small porcelain double-gourd vase in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing (see The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum – 39 – Porcelains with Cloisonne Enamel Decoration and Famille Rose Decoration, Hong King, 1999, p. 42, no. 35). Finely-painted European genre scenes can also be seen on two fine oval boxes in the collection of Pierre Uldry, illustrated by H. Brinker and A. Lutz in Chinese Cloisonné: The Pierre Uldry Collection, Zurich, New York, London, 1989, no. 288. An exquisite porcelain vase from the collection of Sir Percival David also bears a scene of two European ladies (inv. No. PDF A818, see Illustrated Catalogue of Qing Enamelled Wares in the Percival David Foundation, London, 1991, p. 50). As can be seen on this latter vase, and on the current metal-bodied vessels, the gilding on this group is often of particularly high standard. The current vessels are extremely rare examples of this prestigious group.
Another desirable object is a rare white jade quadripod censer and cover, Tulu dating from the Qianlong period (1736-1795) that has been in La Rochefoucauld family since the 19th century. Models similar to this very particular and elegantly carved object are present in two prestigious collections, notably in the Avery Brundage collection at the Museum of Asian Arts in San Francisco and in the Leonard Gow collection. It is estimated at €40,000- 60,000.
Lot 188. Brûle-parfum couvert archaisant en jade blanc, tulu, Chine, Dynastie Qing, Epoque Qianlong (1736-1795). Hauteur: 12,5 cm. (5 in.). Estimate EUR 40,000 - EUR 60,000 (USD 47,672 - USD 71,508). © Christie's Images Ltd 2020
Reposant sur quatre pieds en forme de colonne, la panse rectangulaire aux angles arrondis est à décor continu de dragons archaïsants aux corps stylisés et de caractères Shou ('longévité') dans la section inférieure. Il est flanqué d'une paire de phénix tenant des anneaux mobiles délicatement sculptés formant les anses. Le couvercle est surmonté d'un puissant dragon au corps noueux entouré par quatre chilongs formant des médaillons.
Provenance: In a branch of La Rochefoucauld family since the 19th century.
Note: This very distinctively shaped vessel was carved in imitation of an archaic bronze form, which was used to hold artist's materials. Coloured pigments were kept in the tubular compartments at each corner and subdivided by wooden compartments. The central compartment held a saucer and water for mixing the colours. For a discussion of the bronze prototypes, see Cheng Te Kun, 'The T'u-Lu Colour-Container of the Shang-Chou Period', B.M.F.E.A., no. 37, 1965, p. 239-249, pl. 1-6, where examples in jade, marble and pottery are also illustrated. Several examples of this type of jade vessel are published. Compare two of similar form dated to the late Qing dynasty in the Avery Brundage Collection, illustrated by d'Argencé, Chinese Jades in the Avery Brundage Collection, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1977, p. 124, pl. LV. See another example in the Qing Court Collection, illustrated in The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum - III - Jadeware, Hong Kong, 1995, p. 190, no. 156.
Also see a similar tulu from the Leonard Gow Collection, which was sold at Christie's London, 15 May 2012, lot 198 ; another one sold in Christie's Paris, 21-22 June 2016, lot 167.
From The Leonard Gow Collection, no. 45. A pale celadon jade archaistic vessel and cover, tulu, Qianlong period (1736-1795); 5½ in. (14 cm.) wide. Estimate GBP 80,000 - GBP 120,000. Price realised GBP 193,250 at Christie's London, 15 May 2012, lot 198. © Christie's Images Ltd 2012
Vase couvert archaisant en jade celadon très pale, tulu, Chine, dynastie Qing, XIXème siecle; 6 ¼ in. (16 cm.) high, wood stand. Estimate GBP 35,000 - EUR 45,000. Price realised GBP 133,500 at Christie's Paris, 21-22 June 2016, lot 167. © Christie's Images Ltd 2016.
Chinese textiles are also on display with a rare and important imperial concubine robe in apricot silk embroidered with dragons, dating from the Daoguang period (1851-61), estimated €60,000-80,000. The rarity of this dress comes from its embroidery, made on both sides, executed for a high-ranking concubine at the imperial court.
Lot 140. Rare et importante robe de concubine impériale semi-formelle en soie brodée à fond abricot, Longpao, Chine, Dynastie Qing, Epoque Daoguang (1821-1850). Hauteur: 142 cm. (56 in.) ; largeur: 193 cm. (76 in.). Estimate EUR 60,000 - EUR 80,000 (USD 71,210 - USD 94,947). © Christie's Images Ltd 2020
La robe est délicatement brodée de dragons en fils d'or sur chaque face et sur les épaules à la recherche de la perle enflammée parmi les nuages stylisés, les emblèmes bouddhiques enrubannés et les chauves-souris. Les dragons au centre et sur les épaules sont représentés de face tandis que les dragons en partie basse sont de profil. La partie inférieure est brodée du diagramme terrestre parcouru d'emblèmes de bon augure et d'une bande de lishui au bord dans des tons de bleu, turquoise, violet, vert et jaune. Les manches sont aussi ornées de bandes abritant des dragons brodés.
Literature: Jing Han & Anita Quye, "Dyes and Dyeing in the Ming and Qing Dynasties in China: Preliminary Evidence Based on Primary Sources of Documented Recipes," Textile History, vol. 49, no. 1, Abingdon, UK, 2018, pp. 44 – 70.
Note: Qing dynasty court costume was regulated by the Huangchao liqi tushi (Illustrated Precedents for the Ritual Paraphernalia of the Imperial Court) and the Da Qing Huidian (The Administrative Code of the Qing Dynasty). The laws attempted to control the use of entitlements to restricted colors, fabrics and decorations for specific classes or grades of courtiers. Bright yellow, or minghuang, was reserved for the emperor and his consort. The heir apparent and his consort used xinghuang, or 'apricot yellow', usually orange in tone. The emperor's other sons and their consorts wore jinhuang, or golden-yellow, which had an orange tone that is sometimes difficult to discern from the xinghuang of the imperial heirs. This magnificent robe would have been restricted for use by the consort of the crown prince, and thus the wearer could have been the consort of the future Xianfeng emperor.
Apricot-colored consorts robes are very rare and few extant example exist. A mid-19th century embroidered apricot-ground 'dragon’ robe made for a second or third degree consort or for the wives of the emperor’s sons is illustrated by V. Garrett in Chinese Dress from the Qing Dynasty to the Present, New York, 2007, p. 32, fig. 49. A Xianfeng-period embroidered partially-made apricot 'dragon’ robe in The Linda Wrigglesworth Collection sold in The Imperial Wardrobe: Fine Chinese Costume and Textiles from The Linda Wrigglesworth Collection; Christie’s New York, 19 March 2008, lot 42.
Also noteworthy in the sale is a rare and important pair of terracotta camels from the Tang Dynasty (618-907). These impressively sized camel carvings were made to go into the tombs of the Tang elite. Very expensive to make, they were symbols of wealth, but they also bore witness to how wealth had been acquired through trade, and through the endurance of camels on a grueling Silk Road. The pair is estimated at €100,000-150,000.
Lot 90. Rare et importante paire de grands chameaux en terre cuite, Chine, Dynastie Tang (618-907). Longueurs: 85 cm. (33 ½ in.) et 88 cm. (34 5/8 in), Hauteurs: 62 cm. (24 ½ in.), Largeurs: 32 cm. (12 ½ in.). Estimate EUR 100,000 - EUR 150,000 (USD 118,683 - USD 178,025). © Christie's Images Ltd 2020.
Les chameaux de taille impressionnante sont représentés couchés, les pattes repliées. Les têtes sont tournées vers le ciel, la gueule grande ouverte laissant apparaitre leurs langues et des dents. Trâces de ploychromie ; restaurations.
Provenance: Private Collection, The Netherlands by 2000.
With Vanderven & Vanderven Oriental Art, The Netherlands, 14 April 2005.
Note: These massive camels are fine examples of the type of figures that were made to go into the tombs of the Tang elite. Such models, which would have been very expensive to purchase, provided an obvious indication of the wealth of a family who could afford to inter such costly goods with their deceased relative. Not surprisingly, camels have been found among the burial items in a number of the Tang imperial tombs, as well as some of those belonging to other members of the Tang nobility. However, these models were not simply symbols of wealth, they were also symbols of the way that wealth might have been acquired through trade and tribute along the Silk Route. In the Tang dynasty, camels really did live up to the description of them as 'ships of the desert' and were used to transport Chinese goods, including silk across the difficult terrain of the Silk Route to the eager markets of Central Asia, Samarkand, Persia and Syria.
The two-humped Bactrian camel was known in China as early as the Han dynasty, having been brought from Central Asia and Eastern Turkestan as tribute. Its amazing ability to survive the hardships of travel across the Asian deserts was soon recognized, and imperial camel herds were established under the administration of a special Bureau. These herds, numbering several thousand, were used for a range of state duties, including the provision of a military courier service for the Northern Frontier. Camels were not only prized as resilient beasts of burden, their hair was also used to produce a cloth, which, then as now, was admired for its lightness and warmth. Even camel meat was regarded as a delicacy, with the hump being noted as particularly flavorsome.
The dating is consistent with the Oxford thermoluminescence tests C101d96 and C101d97 made on 9 March 2001.
In the pictorial register, let us evoke a remarkable painting by the painter Fu Baoshi entitled “Three Literates” (estimate: €100,000-200,000). This painting was offered to the parents of the current collector as a wedding gift by their friend, a former French diplomat who worked at the French Embassy attached to Nanjing and Shanghai from 1948 to 1952. Here, Fu Baoshi draws inspiration from historical figures to celebrate the enduring virtues they represent and express a certain loyalty and nostalgia for the China of yesteryear. The strength of this painting lies in the free and spontaneous gesture of the brush, showing figures with rapid contours, a composition playing on the contrasts of landscape’s pale tones with the dark accents of the dresses and the solemnity of the characters.
Lot 161. Fu Baoshi (1904-1965), Trois Lettrés. Peinture encadrée, encre et couleur sur papier. Inscrite et signée avec deux cachets de l'artiste. Dimensions de la peinture: 40 x 30 cm. (15 ¾ x 11 ¾ in.). Estimate EUR 100,000 - EUR 150,000 (USD 118,683 - USD 178,025). © Christie's Images Ltd 2020.
Provenance: The present painting was given to current collector's parents as a wedding gift by their friend, a former French diplomat who worked as the French Embassy attaché in Nanjing and Shanghai from 1948 to 1952.
Note: The three male characters of the painting could be the Song literati Su Shi, his father Su Xun and brother Su Zhe, known collectively as the Three Su. “Reconstruction of a certain beautiful story from history” was a source of inspiration for Fu’s painting activity during the 1940’s. Fu invoked history to seek out the enduring virtues of figures from the past and cited poems to encourage meditation on legends, as a vehicle to express loyalty to and sorrow for China. The expressive power lay less in high-spirited heroism than in the romantic sadness the images convey, which heightens the viewer’s attention to the human psychological drama.
Fu depicts this scene with free, spontaneous brushwork, rendering the figures with swift, jagged outlines, pale ink tones, and dark accents for details of the robe, with the pale orange rocks contrasting the solemnity of the protagonists.
Coming from a private French collection never before seen on the market, the Asian Art Department has selected fifty lots, among which we would like to mention a large basin in cloisonné enamels dating from the Ming Dynasty (€20,000-30,000). The richness and variety of decorative motifs echo elements of tableware in prestigious museum collections such as the Beijing Palace Museum.
Lot 6. Grand bassin en émaux cloisonnés, Chine, XVIIème siècle. Diamètre: 53,5 cm. (21 in.). Estimate EUR 20,000 - EUR 30,000(USD 23,836 - USD 35,754). © Christie's Images Ltd 2020.
L'intérieur est à décor de grues, canards mandarins et poissons dans un étang parsemé de fleurs de lotus et d'autres plantes aquatiques. La bordure intérieure est agrémentée de chevaux mythiques volant au-dessus des flots tumultueux et la panse extérieure rehaussée de lions bouddhiques jouant au ballon. La bordure plate et la base sont entièrement ornées de rinceaux de lotus sur fond turquoise.
Provenance: Property from a French private collection.
Note: Compare the decoration on the present basin with that on a jar in Beijing, illustrated in Metal-bodied Enamel Ware, The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, Hong Kong, 2002, pl. 62. Also compare with the more stylised gamboling lions in pursuit of brocade balls enamelled on the exterior of a bowl dated to the Ming dynasty Jingtai period, in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Zhongguo Meishu Quanji: Gongyi meishu bian, vol. 10, Beijing, 1987, no.301. Compare with two other late 16th century basins: the first, with dense lotus scrolls on the everted rim and on the cavetto, and decorated with a carp on the central medallion, included in the exhibition Chinese Cloisonne, The Clague Collection, Phoenix Art Museum, 1980, illustrated in the Catalogue, p. 52, pl. 18; and the other with similar vines encircling large Indian lotuses on the cavetto and decorated with dragon and phoenix on the medallion, illustrated by H. Brinker and A. Lutz, op. cit., pl. 121. A 16th century basin, also decorated with lions and cubs from the C. Ruxton and Audrey B. Love Collection was sold at Christie's New York, The C. Ruxton and Audrey B. Love Collection: Important European Furniture and Asian Works of Art, 20 Oct 2004, lot 1459.
Finally, coming from another French private collection, collectors will be able to acquire remarkable Japanese armors dating from the Edo period (1615-1868) as well as helmets (estimated between €20,000 and €40,000) and beautiful sculptures from South-East Asia.