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A Gilt Copper Alloy Figure of Tara, Nepal, Early Malla Period, 13th century; 9 in. (23 cm) high. Estimate US$500,000-700,000. Photo: Bonhams.

NEW YORK, NY.- This March, Bonhams New York will present a plethora of fine and rare works from a range of art historical periods throughout Asia’s past and present. The sales include: Chinese Works of Art Including the Richard Milhender Export Furniture Collection on 21 March, Reverend Richard Fabian Collection of Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy IV on 21 March, Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art on 22 March, and Japanese and Korean Art on 23 March, as well as a series of online sales on Bonhams.com throughout the month. Alongside that, a spectacular assemblage of Himalayan Buddhist masterpieces from the Claude de Marteau Collection will be touring Bonhams New York with associated lectures and reception from 17 and to March.

Auctions

Chinese Works of Art Including the Richard Milhender Export Furniture Collection
21 March


The sale comprises a wide-ranging group of highly appealing media: jades, bronzes, cloisonné, lacquer, porcelains, pottery, sculpture, furniture and classical and modern paintings, across a wide swathe of Chinese history from the neolithic to the end of the Qing and beyond into the Republic period. Among the many highlights on offer is a small but important and rare group of primarily eighteenth century Chinese huali export furniture, perhaps the finest group still in private hands. Collected over many years by the famed Boston Collector, Richard Milhender, it comprises eleven pieces, led by a wonderful huali mirrored bureau bookcase with original Paktong (baitong) hardware (estimate: US$30,000-40,000).

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An Important large Chinese Huali two-section Bureau Bookcase, Circa 1750; 72 ½ inches high x 42 ¾ inches wide x 22 1/8 inches deep. Estimate US$30,000 - US$40,000© Bonhams 2001-2022

Supported on scroll bracket feet, the lower section in the form of a chest of drawers with hinged fall-front with pull-out supports and enclosing a fitted interior with various sized drawers, one inked with Chinese number characters, one horizontal shelf and eight pigeon-holes with Chinese-form apron details, all above four graduated large drawers each with two highly-decorative Chinese paktong (baitong) handle plates with swan-neck handles, also mirrored in the paktong carrying handles to the sides, the upper section with two later mirrored doors with rocaille paktong key-plates at the center and further paktong carrying handles to the side, opening to reveal two drawers and three shelves, all below a simple cornice.

Provenance: Thomas McBride, Litchfield, CT, October 1988.
The Richard Milhender Collection, Boston, Massachusetts, 1988-present.

Published: Carl L. Crossman, The Decorative Arts of the China Trade: Paintings, Furnishings and Exotic Curiosities, Antique Collector's Club, Suffolk, UK, 1991, p. 227, Color Plate 79.

Note: In Carl L. Crossman, op. cit., p. 227, col. pl. 79, the bureau is illustrated with Chinese and Indian silver of the early 19th century from the Milhender Collection. The Indian silver now forms part of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts silver collection.

See a pair of huanghauli and padouk wood bureau cabinets, with solid-timber upper cupboard doors rather than the mirrors of ours sold at Woolley and Wallis, Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK, 21 October 2020, lot January 2020, lot 169.

The ceramics include a fine offering of Song, Ming and Qing wares, many with Imperial marks, including a superb celadon-glazed dish with a rare design of lingzhi to the interior and bearing an underglaze-blue Yongzheng mark to the underside (estimate: US$40,000-60,000). Among the Chinese furniture on offer is a pair of unusual seventeenth century spindle-back Huanghuali armchairs (estimate: US$40,000-60,000). Leading the early pottery sculptural wares section is a wonderful group of nine important items from the private US Collection of Ruth and Harold Newman. Highlights include a magnificent and massive Tang dynasty pale-green and sancai-glazed horse with superb fur saddle blanket (estimate US$200,000-300,000), and a figure of a camel with a rare monkey rider (estimate US$25,000-40,000). From another private US collector is a pair of imposing prancing horses, Tang dynasty, one glazed in brown and the other in black, forming a dynamic pairing (estimate: US$40,000-60,000).

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Two magnificent glazed pottery prancing horses, Tang dynasty (618-906); 23in and 22 1/4in (58.4cm and 56.5cm) high. Estimate US$40,000 - US$60,000© Bonhams 2001-2022

Handsomely modeled and realistically rendered, each horse with expressive pricked ears, round eyes, flared nostrils, and open mouth showing bear teeth, the head lowered slightly to the left while its right foreleg raised as if ready to stride forward, the tail docked and neatly tied, standing gracefully on a rectangular plank base connecting three feet, one horse glazed in rich chestnut color with green and cream picked out on the forehead, the other horse glazed in black with green strips on the forehead, an opening at the bottom of the belly made to reduce weight and for efficient firing.

Provenance: From the Collection of Dr. Wallace Bruce Smith (1880-1971) and Sadie Alice Whitehead Smith (d. 1984), San Francisco, purchased prior to 1971, by descent.

It is rare to find two horses of this type in such generous size. The well-balanced proportion and naturalistic modeling may attribute the present examples to early Tang dynasty.

A pair of very similarly modeled horses of smaller size discovered from the tomb of Li Siben (dated by epitaph to A.D. 709) in Yanshi, near Luoyang, Henan province, is illustrated in a line drawing in the excavation report The Tang Tombs in Yanshi Xingyuan, Beijing, 2001, p. 49, pl. 43-1.

Note: The dating of the two horses is consistent with the results of Thermoluminescence test samples 366h62 and 366h3 rendered by the Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art, Oxford, 13 December 1984. 

Reverend Richard Fabian Collection of Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy IV
21 March


Bonhams presents Part IV of fine paintings and calligraphic works from America’s premier private collection of modern Chinese paintings. Reverend Richard Fabian – founder and rector of San Francisco’s ecumenical St. Gregory Nyssen Episcopal Church – first discovered the compelling beauty of Chinese paintings while majoring in Chinese art at Yale University in the 1960s. Over three decades, he formed a panoramic collection spanning the 200-year development of modern Chinese paintings. Most of the works being offered were featured in dedicated exhibitions of the Fabian collection at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco in 2000-2001 and the Honolulu Academy of Art in 2007, each institution producing a scholarly publication to accompany the exhibition.  Sale highlights include: Zhang Daqian’s Woman Holding a Flower (estimate: US$800,000-1,200,000) and Xugu’s Immortal Image (Posthumous Portrait of Gao Yong's Wife) (estimate: US$200,000-300,000). Part V of the Fabian collection of Chinese paintings, the online sale, will be held 14-24 March on Bonhams.com.. 

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Lot 45. Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), Woman Holding a Flower, 1948. Hanging scroll, ink and color on paper, inscribed by the artist with a dedication, dated wuzi, and signed Daqian jushi Yuan, with four artist's seals Zhang Yuan zhi yinxinDaqianchun chou zen hua and Yun ao jinse zheng wei shou. 51 3/8 x 27 1/8in (130.5 x 68.9cm). Estimate US$800,000 - US$1,200,000© Bonhams 2001-2022

Provenance: Far East Fine Arts, San Francisco, California, 28 February 1997.

Published: Johnson, Mark Dean, and Fan Jeremy Zhang. Chang Dai-Chien Painting from Heart to Hand, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, 2019, Cat. no 5.

Teisuke Toda and Hiromitsu Ogawa comp. Comprehensive Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Paintings, Third Series, Volume 1: American and Canadian Collections, University of Tokyo Press, 2013, A50-167, p.216.

Little, Stephen, and J. May Lee Barrett. New Songs on Ancient Tunes: 19th-20th Century Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy from the Richard Fabian Collection, Honolulu: Honolulu Academy of Arts, 2007, pp.568-569

Andrews, Julia Frances, Michael Knight, and Pauline Yao. Between the Thunder and the Rain: Chinese Paintings from the Opium War Through the Cultural Revolution, 1840-1979, San Francisco: Echo Rock Ventures, in association with the Asian Art Museum-Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture, 2000, p.236

ExhibitedChang Dai-Chien Painting from Heart to Hand, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, November 26 2019 – March 16, 2020.
New Songs on Ancient Tunes, Honolulu Art Academy, Honolulu, Hawaii, August 30-October 28, 2007
Between the Thunder and the Rain, Asian Art Museum Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture, San Francisco, California, October 25, 2000-January 14, 2001.

Note: In his 1961 study On the Art of Painting, Zhang Daqian enumerated twelve essential principals. Primary on his list was the copying of ancient models. Twenty years prior, Zhang Daqian's research into the roots of Chinese figural painting found him at the Dunhuang caves in Gansu Province. Studying and reproducing these magnificent Sui and Tang dynasty (589-906) murals opened a window into the aesthetics of a golden age of Buddhist art and figural painting, and influenced Zhang Daqian's paintings in the decades that followed.

Exhibiting his Dunhuang reproductions in Chengdu in 1944, Zhang Daqian noted the incredible opportunity to study these early works:

"I have always admired the ancient masters and have seen nine-tenths of those works of Song and Yuan artists still extent; however people thought me too ambitious when I wished to see works of the Six Dynasties, Sui and Tang. Those frescoes in the caves were not described in historical records and were unknown to past scholars."

While in residence among these cultural treasures, the artist not only carefully reproduced the images, but he examined the original works with an art historian's sensibility. His empirical observations and stylistic analysis of the evolving aesthetics by artists who were demonstrably part of the tradition--but excluded from the traditional Chinese figure painting canon--are a valuable contribution to our understanding of Buddhist painting. Zhang Daqian's meticulously recorded observations included such details as how figures' hands were drawn from the 6th to 10th centuries, with precise notations of how fingernails and joints were delineated.

The Dunhuang period is evident in Woman Holding a Flower, 1948, a painting with a demeanor that is archaistic and yet fresh and lively. A perfectionist with preparing materials, the artist revealed in a later work that he captured the Dunhuang palette with "Imperial Qianlong period vermillion 'ink', Buddha-head blue from Afghanistan and malachite green from Ajanta" (1). The mineral pigments bring a sumptuous vibrancy to the composition, and the scrolling lotus motif framing the figure repeats the reference to Dunhuang.

Despite the overtly Buddhist color scheme, the subject of the painting is a striking image of feminine beauty. Wearing a colorful garment, the lady dons hair ornaments and earrings, her dress pattern echoing the scrolling lotus surround. The subject is elegant, her gracefulness enhanced by the long fluid lines of her clothing. Holding a flower, her delicate fingers are drawn with knowledge of the Dunhuang murals.

1. Fu Shen and Jan Stuart, Challenging the Past, the Paintings of Chang Dai-chien, Washington, 1991, p. 296

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Lot 39. Xugu (1823/4-1896), Immortal Image (Posthumous Portrait of Gao Yong's Wife). Horizontal handscroll, ink and light color on paper, with the artist's seal Xugu, mounted with a frontispiece calligraphy in running script, ink on gold flecked paper, dedicated to Yongzhi (Gao Yong, 1850-1921) and signed Xugu with an artist's seal Xugu Changle; the painting: 10 3/8 x 24 1/8in (26.1 x 61.1cm); the frontpiece: 10 3/8 x 33 1/8in (26.1x 84.1cm). Estimate US$200,000 - US$300,000. © Bonhams 2001-2022

Provenance: Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 30 April 1992, lot 196.

Published: Teisuke Toda and Hiromitsu Ogawa comp. Comprehensive Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Paintings, Third Series, Volume 1: American and Canadian Collections, University of Tokyo Press, 2013, A50-021, p.188-189.
Tsao Jung Ying, Craig L. Yee and Siyuan Chen. Juefei An Xugu: yi quan da po qu lai jin, Breaking through the Past to Modernity: The Art of Xugu, Beijing, Liangyou Huayi, 2012, no 12
Little, Stephen, and J. May Lee Barrett. New Songs on Ancient Tunes: 19th-20th Century Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy from the Richard Fabian Collection, Honolulu: Honolulu Academy of Arts, 2007, pp.256-257, illustrated dust jacket
Wue, Roberta May-hwa, Making the Artist: Ren Bonian and portraits of the Shanghai Art World, PhD diss., New York University, 2001, fig.85
Andrews, Julia Frances, Michael Knight, and Pauline Yao. Between the Thunder and the Rain: Chinese Paintings from the Opium War Through the Cultural Revolution, 1840-1979, San Francisco: Echo Rock Ventures, in association with the Asian Art Museum-Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture, 2000, p.76
Ding Xiyuan, "Canying yu Xianying", Gugong wenwu yuekan, Issue No.153, December 1995, pp.124-129
Tsao Jung-Ying, The Paintings of Xugu and Qi Baishi, University of Washington Press, 1993, pp.172-175

ExhibitedNew Songs on Ancient Tunes, Honolulu Art Academy, Honolulu, Hawaii, August 30-October 28, 2007
Between the Thunder and the Rain, Asian Art Museum Chong-Moon Lee Center for Asian Art and Culture, San Francisco, California, October 25, 2000-January 14, 2001

Note: Xugu's extant portraits are very scarce, with a handful in major collections, and a few others known from contemporaneous writings. In Zhang Mingke's (1829-1908) collected anecdotes of artists of the Jiangnan region, Hansongge Tanyi Suolu (Jottings on Art from the Cold Pine Studio), he notes that Xugu painted the portrait of the famed military leader Zeng Guofan (1811-1872) in 1865. In addition, Xugu also painted Zhang Mingke himself in 1870. Many of the portraits that survive today are of fellow Buddhist monks, or artist's in his circle, such as his Portrait of Qin Zanyao in the Palace Museum, Portrait of Hengfeng in the Suzhou Museum, and Portrait of Canying sold at China Guardian, Beijing, 18 December 2017.

Along with these other examples, Immortal Image (Posthumous Portrait of Gao Yong's Wife), evinces Xugu's unique approach to portraiture. The sitter is depicted with a notable delicacy and sensitivity, demonstrating the aesthetic approach of the late Ming artist Zeng Jing (1564-1647). Using subtle layered washes and a minimal approach to detail, her gown defined by the thinnest of lines, Xugu juxtaposes the ethereal quietude of his subject with the expressive, rugged plum branches that frame the sitter.

Mounted together with the scroll is calligraphy in Xugu's own hand titling the work "Immortal Image", with a dedication to his patron Gao Yong (1850-1921). Written in his distinctive style, the characters have their own solemnity, and Xugu may have separated them from the image in deference to traditional memorial portraits of the deceased.

Indian, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian Art
22 March


The highlight of this year’s New York Asia Week auctions at Bonhams is a Gilt Copper Alloy Figure of Tara from Nepal, Early Malla Period, 13th century, estimated at US$500,000-700,000. Coming from the esteemed collection of Michael Henss, a noted Himalayan art scholar, this beautifully-proportioned figure epitomises the elegance for which Nepalese sculpture is deeply revered. The bronze represents a popular Buddhist savior-goddess and is one of the finest examples of Tara from any style and period to come to market. Remnants of cold gold and blue pigment applied to the face and hair indicate the artwork’s prior worship in Tibet. This superlative sculpture makes its first appearance in the market since it was acquired over 35 years ago.

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A Gilt Copper Alloy Figure of Tara, Nepal, Early Malla Period, 13th century; 9 in. (23 cm) high. Estimate US$500,000-700,000. Photo: Bonhams.

 Provenance: David Tremayne Ltd, London, 1985
The Michael Henss Collection, Zurich.

Japanese and Korean Art
23 March


Spanning over eight centuries of Japanese and Korean art, our 23 March sale reflects the beauty of the archipelago and the peninsula in many forms and genres. Especially well represented this year are woodblock prints, with highlights including Storm Below the Summit by Katsushika Hokusai, Edo period, 1831 (estimate: US$200,000-300,000); Utagawa Kuniyoshi’s Monster Skeleton Triptych, Edo period, circa 1844 (estimate: US $150,000-250,000), and a rare complete set of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects of the Moon (estimate: US$30,000-50,000). We will also offer elegant artworks from the Edo period: a fine and multi-pieced gold lacquer tabako-bon (smoking set) from the 19th century (estimate: US$5,000-7,000) and a six-panel screen in ink and colors on gold ground of Scenes from the Tale of Genji by an artist of the Tosa school in the 17th century (estimate: US$30,000-50,000).

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Katsushika Hokusai (1760- 1849), Sanka hakuu (Storm below the summit), Edo period (1615-1868), 18319 3/4 x 14 1/2in (24.2 x 36.8cm). Estimate: US$200,000-300,000© Bonhams 2001-2022

An oban yoko-e print entitled Sanka hakuu (Storm below the summit), from the series Fugaku sanjurokkei (36 Views of Mount Fuji), signed Hokusai aratame Iitsu hitsu.

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Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), Soma no furudairi ni Masakado himegimi Takiyasha yojutsu o motte mikata o atsumuru (In the ruined palace of [Taira] Masakado at Soma his daughter Princess Takiyasha uses sorcery to summon allies [the monster skeleton]), Edo period (1615-1868), circa 1844; 14 3/8 x 10 1/8in (36.5 x 25.7cm) each approximatelyEstimate: US$150,000 - US$250,000. © Bonhams 2001-2022

An oban tate-e print triptych entitled Soma no furudairi ni Masakado himegimi Takiyasha yojutsu o motte mikata o atsumuru (In the ruined palace of [Taira] Masakado at Soma his daughter Princess Takiyasha uses sorcery to summon allies [the monster skeleton]), signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga (on each sheet), publisher's mark Hachi(3).

Bonhams will also showcase fine examples of contemporary metalwork from many of Japan’s most important metalsmiths, including the first woman Living National Treasure, Osumi Yukie’s whose silver vase Bakufu (Waterfall) is estimated at US$35,000-45,000), and Nakagawa Mamoru’s vase Hayashi (Trees) (estimate: US$35,000-45,000). Mamoru is also a Living National Treasure and master of zōgan inlay. A double gourd celadon ewer from the 13th century (estimate: US$18,000-25,000) and a slip-inlaid celadon cup and stand from the 13-15th centuries (estimate: US$4,000-6,000) represent the ceramic offerings from the Korean peninsula.

Exhibition

Treasures from the Claude de Marteau Collection of Tibetan, Nepalese, Indian and Southeast Asian Art
17-22 March


After Brussels, Geneva, and Paris, the touring exhibition of the Claude de Marteau Collection is coming to New York in March. The collection is a unique assemblage of art gathered over decades by the late dealer and collector. It spans works created over a period of 1,500 years in the Hindu and Buddhist cultures that once flourished in India, Nepal, Tibet, and China.

Claude de Marteau stumbled upon the art that was to be his lifelong passion while on an extended trip exploring the globe as a young man. Entirely self-taught, he became a respected dealer and an eminent authority on Tibetan, Nepalese, Indian and Southeast Asian art. He was renowned for his ‘great eye and intrinsic aesthetic sensibility’, in the words of his friend Dr. Pratapaditya Pal, a leading scholar-curator in the field. In his later years, Claude increasingly withdrew from public life; only a handful of pieces from his collection have ever been exhibited or published.

A highlight of the exhibition is a magnificent 15th/16th century Tibetan gilt copper alloy figure of Guhyasamaja (estimate: EUR140,000-180,000). More than 1 ½ feet tall, this grand sculpture depicts the iconic tantric yabyum (lit. ‘father-mother’) image of male and female deities in sexual embrace symbolizing a union of the Buddhist virtues of wisdom and compassion. Created during a period known as Tibet’s Renaissance, the bronze follows the artistic tradition of one of its master artists, Sonam Gyaltsen, active in Central Tibet in the 15th century. Representing a potent vehicle for transforming one’s consciousness, the de Marteau Guhyasamaja is clearly one of the largest and most impressive Tibetan gilt bronze yabyum sculptures ever to offered at auction. 

The Claude de Marteau Collection will be offered in four sales by Bonhams in Paris and Hong Kong in June and October 2022 and June and October 2023. This tour brings the very best Tibetan Buddhist pieces from all sales to New York for public exhibition.

Online-Only Sales

The Reverend Richard Fabian Collection of Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy, Part V The Online Sale
14–24 March

The Noble Silver Collection – Treasures from the Burmese Silver Age
14-24 March


Bonhams’ offering extends to the digital space, with the online sale of Noble Silver Collection – Treasures from the Burmese Silver Age, considered to be the finest and most comprehensive known collection of Burmese silver in the world. The collection charts a magnificent body of work produced by Burmese master silversmiths between the mid-19th and early 20th century, a period termed the Burmese Silver Age. This little-known genre of silver art is characterised by an exuberant decorative style achieved through superb technical artistry. Unlike other producers of silverware in Asia, Burmese silver catered largely to a domestic market, producing art objects designed for traditional Southeast Asian customs such as betel culture and temple offerings. Many of the pieces in the Noble Silver Collection are embellished with beloved scenes from the Ramayana and the Jataka Tales.

Most of the 122 intricate artworks comprising the Noble Silver Collection are featured in the recent landmark publication, Burmese Silver Art: Masterpieces Illuminating Buddhist, Hindu and Mythological Stories of Purpose and Wisdom (Owens, 2020). The sale of the entire collection will be divided into a special section of the Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art auction at Bonhams New York on 22 March, and this dedicated online sale from 14-24 March.

Arts of India, Southeast Asia, and the Himalayas Online
15–25 March


This online sale brings together a diverse range of lots, including Indian sculptures and paintings, Tibetan thangkas, ritual implements, and Gandharan sculpture, with estimates ranging from US$500 to US$10,000. Highlights include a Late Mughal portrait of a noble and two princes, from circa 1745, and a schist head of Buddha from the ancient region of Gandhara, 3rd/4th century. It is a great opportunity for collectors of all interests and tastes to acquire works of good quality at affordable price levels.

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Portrait of a noble and two princes, Late Mughal, circa 1745; Image: 11 1/8 x 9 1/8 in. (28.3 x 23.2 cm); Folio: 11 1/2 x 9 1/2 in. (29.2 x 24 cm). Estimate US$6,000 - US$8,000. © Bonhams 2001-2022

Provenance: Ex-Maggs Bros. Ltd., London
Property from the Asbjorn Lunde Foundation.

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A prince smoking a hookah on a terrace, Guler, circa 1780; 6 3/4 x 3 3/4 in. (17.2 x 9.6 cm). Estimate US$6,000 - US$8,000© Bonhams 2001-2022

 

Provenance: Property from the Asbjorn Lunde Foundation.

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A schist head of Buddha,Ancient region of Gandhara, 3rd-4th century; 7 in. (17.8 cm) high. Estimate US$5,000 - US$7,000. © Bonhams 2001-2022

Provenance: Property from the Asbjorn Lunde Foundation.