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Lot 1216. An Archaic Bronze Rectangular Food Vessel, Fangding, Mid-Western Zhou dynasty. Height 8 7/8 x width 6 3/8 x depth 5 1/8 in, 22.5 x 16.2 x 13 cm. Price Realized: $487,500 (Estimate $150,000 - $200,000)

CHICAGO, IL.- The sale of an extremely rare archaic bronze food vessel in Hindman Auctions’ March 29th Chinese and Himalayan Works of Art auction capped off a successful three days of Asian Art sales. The auction achieved over $2.24 million, doubling its presale estimate. Also headlining the sale was property from the Estate of Hisazo Nagatani, an admired collector and connoisseur of Asian works art.


Stunning results were seen across all sales, beginning with Japanese and Korean Works of Art on March 25th, followed by Strong Diversions: Property from a Lifetime of Play on March 28th, and concluding with Chinese and Himalayan Works of Art on the 29th.

Chinese and Himalayan Works of Art | March 29

Long-Hidden Archaic Bronze Food Vessel


A Chinese archaic bronze ceremonial fangding vessel, called a Sanji fangding (lot 1216), was the star lot of the March 29th auction, selling for $487,500, doubling its presale estimate of $150,000-200,000. The vessel was once owned by renowned official and collector Liu Tizhi, and while the inscriptions on this vessel have been illustrated in many publications, this sale was the first time the piece had been seen in public in almost a century. The decoration, the casting and the form of this vessel suggests it is from the mid-Western Han Dynasty, and that it was once used by the San clan during ceremonies.

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Lot 1216. An Archaic Bronze Rectangular Food Vessel, Fangding, Mid-Western Zhou dynasty. Height 8 7/8 x width 6 3/8 x depth 5 1/8 in, 22.5 x 16.2 x 13 cm. Price Realized: $487,500 (Estimate $150,000 - $200,000)© Hindman LCC.

the deep body cast of rectangular form and raised on four columnar legs, the shorter sides of the vessel are surmounted by inverted 'u' shape bail handles of equal width with the mouth rim. Cast with eight toothed flanges at the corners and center of each exterior wall delineating crisply cast taotie masks on a leiwen ground. The deep walls of the interior bearing a five-character inscription. The whole with deep patina and attractive green encrustations. 

Property from a Private Northeastern Collection

Provenance: The Liu Tizhi (1879-1962) Collection, prior to 1934.

Literature: LIU, Tizhi. Xiaojiaojinge jinwen taben (Rubbings of Archaic Bronze Inscriptions at the Xiaojiaojinge Studio), 1935, vol. 2, p.33.4
LUO, Zhenyu. Zhensongtang jigu yiwen xubian (Supplement to the Gathering of ancient Writings at the Zhensongtang Studio), 1934, vol. 2, p. 28.3. (inscription).
LUO, Zhenyu. Sandai jijin wencun (Surviving Writings from the Xia, Shang, and Zhou Dynasties), 1937, vol. 2, p. 51.1 (inscription).
YAN, Yiping. Jinwen Zongji (Corpus of Bronze Inscriptions), Taipei, 1983, no. 0701 (inscription).
The Institute of Archaeology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Yinzhou jinwen jicheng (Compendium of Yin and Zhou Bronze Inscriptions), Beijing, 1984, no. 02029.
WANG, Xiantang. Guoshi jinshizhi gao (Manuscript of archaic bronze in Chinese history), Qingdao, 2004, no. 2083.
WU, Zhenfeng. Shangzhou qingtongqi mingwen ji tuxiang jicheng (Compendium of Inscriptions and Images of Bronzes from Shang and Zhou Dynasties), Shanghai, 2012, no. 01440.
LI, Chaoyuan. Zhouyuan yizhi yu Xizhou tongqi jinzhan de yanjiu, Beijing, Zhongguo Wenwubao, 2004.4.30, p. 7.
CHEN, Yingfei. Tsinghua Bamboo Slips Liangchen San Yisheng yu Xizhou jinwen zhong de Sanshi, Beijing, 2016.

Estate of Hisazo Nagatani

Among the many notable collections included in the auction was property from beloved Chicago collector Hisazo Nagatani, which saw tremendous bidding activity. Nagatani’s international reputation grabbed the attention of bidders with lots such as a semi-translucent apple green jadeite tripod censer and cover (lot 1140) among several showstopping lots. This spectacular late 19th century/20th century censer and cover features mask-form legs and is flanked at the shoulders with wide-reaching animal-heads suspending loop handles. An early 20th century translucent greyish-celadon jadeite covered vase with a pair of handles each shaped as a mythical beast head (lot 1139) also saw great demand, selling for $81,250, ten times its presale estimate. An archaistic bronze wine jar and cover, fanglei, (lot 1221) was another highlight, selling for $40,625 against a presale estimate of $1,500-2,400.

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Lot 1140. A Semi-Translucent Apple Green Jadeite Tripod Censer and Cover, late 19th-20th century. Height 6 1/2 in x width 7 1/2 in., 16.5 x 19 cm. Sold for $287,500 (Price Estimate $15,000 - $25,000). © Hindman LCC.

having a squat body supported on three low animal mask-form legs, flanked at the shoulders with wide-reaching animal-heads suspending loop handles suspending smoothly reticulated rings. The waisted mouth surmounted by a conforming cover with a finial formed of bent branches. 

Property from the Estate of Hisazo Nagatani, thence by descent.

Note: Hizaso Nagatani (1905-1994) was a collector, connoisseur, and dealer of Asian works of art. Born in Osaka in 1905, and raised by a single mother in Nishinomiya, Nagatani developed a passion for Asian art during his adolescence. At age 17, he joined Yamanaka & Co., a highly renowned firm known for its commitment to quality and rarity. He spent his young adulthood based in Beijing, traveling throughout China handling porcelains, bronzes, stone sculptures, jades, and pottery. Soon after, he was dispatched to Boston before relocating to Chicago. He rose to manage the Yamanaka & Co. storefront on the Magnificent Mile until the firm was directed to cease business operations in the United States. In 1944, he opened a new gallery on North Michigan Avenue in his own name, Nagatani & Co. His providence in nurturing relationships with those who shared his passion for the material helped him develop a robust client roster including both local celebrities and important figures in the field, including Ann Landers and Abigail Van Buren, Louis Hill, Robert Mayer, Avery Brundage, and the Alsdorfs. 

In 1935, he married Chica, who became his partner in business and life. Chica was an indispensable talent, even having served as a secretary to the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania prior to joining her husband’s firm as president. Within a few years of her passing, Hizaso closed their business, and donated funds to build the Nagatani Academic Center for student athletes at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, a unique space designed to nurture and celebrate student athletes’ academic success. His collection of rare books on the Chinese and Japanese art was granted to the College of Architecture, Art, and Urban Planning Resource Center at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and he donated many of his works of art to the Field Museum and established the Nagatani Fund for Collections in memory of his wife. The property in this sale comprises some of last remaining objects directly from the collection of Hisazo Nagatani, an important figure whose tastes are represented among the world’s foremost private collections and museums to this day.

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Lot 1139. A translucent Greyish-Celadon Jadeite Covered Vase, late 19th-20th century. Height 10 1/2 in x width 6 in., 26.7 x 15.2 cm. Sold for $ 81,250 (Price Estimate $8,000 - $12,000). © Hindman LCC.

of baluster form, rising from a pedestal foot to a waisted neck flanked by a pair of handles each shaped as a mythical beast head suspending a loose ring, the body carved with low-relief taotie motif, the domed cover carved as a fu lion-form finial, the stone of an icy-white tone.

Property from the Estate of Hisazo Nagatani, thence by descent.

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Lot 1221. An Archaistic Bronze Wine Jar and Cover, Fanglei, early 20th century. Height 13 x width 6 1/2 x length 5 1/4 in., 33 x 16.5 x 13 .3 cm. Sold for $40,625 (Price Estimate $1,500 - $2,500). © Hindman LCC.

of loosely rectangular form, cast over a faceted foot with long ribbed flanges extending up the sides to meet at the cover beneath a truncated arrow-form finial.

Property from the Estate of Hisazo Nagatani, thence by descent. 

Other standouts of the Nagatani estate included a carved yellow jade covered vase that sold for $37,500 (lot 1134) and a carved puddingstone figure of a seated lion (lot 1242) that sold for $20,000.

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Lot 1134. A Carved Yellow Jade Covered Vaselate 19th-early 20th century. Height 7 x width 4 3/4 in., 17.8 x 12 cm. Sold for $37,500 (Price Estimate $15,000 - $25,000). © Hindman LCC.

of flattened baluster form, naturalistically carved in the round with a dragon cumbering on one side, the domed cover surmounted by a chilong finial, the stone of a pale yellowish-celadon tone, softly polished. 

Property from the Estate of Hisazo Nagatani, thence by descent.

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Lot 1242. A Carved Puddingstone Figure of a Seated LionTang dynasty (618-907). Height 11 1/2 x width 5 1/2 in x length 7 1/4 in., 29.2 x 13.9 x 18.4 cm. Sold for $20,000 (Price Estimate $6,000 - $8,000). © Hindman LCC.

carved seated facing forward and with front legs stiffly braced on the rectangular base, the face carved with a fierce expression, mouth open in a roar.

Property from the Estate of Hisazo Nagatani, thence by descent.

Strong Diversions: Property from a Lifetime of Play | March 28th

Property from The Strong National Museum of Play’s collection realized more than $821,600, doubling its expected estimate with extraordinary prices achieved for Chinese amber fish carvings, bronzes, porcelain figures and Japanese inro. Strong Diversions: Property from a Lifetime of Play spotlighted works from prominent collector and philanthropist Margaret Woodbury Strong, whose passion for learning and scholarship developed through her unique upbringing. Strong assembled one of the largest and most unique private collections in the 20th century, that formed the foundation of what would come to be known as The Strong National Museum of Play.

Strong’s mother, Alice Motley Woodbury, was an equally passionate collector of Chinese and Japanese objects d’art and buyers demonstrated particular enthusiasm for her large collection of yatate and sagemono.

Japanese and Korean Works of Art | March 25th

Silver bonbonniere in the March 25th Japanese & Korean Works of Art auction saw exceptional bidding activity, led by a fine Japanese silver rabbit-form bonbonniere (lot 20) which surpassed its presale estimate of $1,000-2,000 to realize $8,125. This rabbit was made as a souvenir for the marriage of Princess Nagako of Kuni no Miya, known as the Empress Kojun. Another highlight from the group was a lot of two Japanese silver helmet-form bonbonniere (lot 8) which sold for $4,063.

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Lot 20. A Fine Japanese Silver Rabbit-Form Bonbonnière, 1924. Length 2 5/8 in., 6.67 cm. Sold for $8,125 (Price Estimate $1,000 - $2,000). © Hindman LCC.

the cover surmounted by a finial in the shape of a recumbent rabbit with incised eyes and fur, the short walls engraved with a chrysanthemum crest and cranes in flight above pine trees; made as a souvenir of the farewell due to the marriage of Princess Nagako of Kuni no Miya, known as the Empress Kojun, marked Jungin, Shinshiro sei, 純銀 新城製.

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Lot 8. Two Japanese Silver Helmet-Form Bonbonnière, Meiji-Taisho Period. Length of larger 2 3/4 in., 6.5 cm. Sold for $4,063 (Price Estimate $2,000 - $4,000). © Hindman LCC.

the first of rounded form, the front centered with a chrysanthemum crest, marked Jungin Miyamoto zo, 純銀 宮本造; the second in the form of a sujibachi-kabuto engraved with a chrysanthemum crest above the maedate in the form of gilt kuwagata, unsigned.

A selection of Japanese ikebana bamboo flower arranging baskets (lot 123) were highly sought-after. The top lot of the group was by Kajiwara Aya, a renowned bamboo artist who was one of the first female bamboo artists accepted as a full member of the Japan Craft Arts Association. The basket sold for $5,625, more than double its presale estimate.

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Lot 123. A Japanese Ikebana Bamboo Flower Arranging Basket, by Kajiwara Aya. Height 13 in., 33 cmSold for $5,625 (Price Estimate $2,000 - $3,000). © Hindman LCC.

of rounded form tapering towards the mouth, woven in a geometric zig zag pattern, signed on the underside.

Other sale standouts were a late 19th century / early 20th century mixed-metal charger depicting a smiling fishmonger and scholar, surrounded by roundels showing auspicious animal and insect figures (lot 32), which sold for $16,250, well above its presale estimate of $1,000-2,000. Highlights also included ink and color paintings such as Kawase Hasui’s 1920 colored woodblock print Densensui no zenkei (Panoramic View of Daisensui Pond) from the set Mitsubishi Fukagawa bettei (Pictures of Mitsubishi Fukagawa Villa) (lot 56), which sold for $8,750 against an estimate of $2,000-3,000.

 

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Lot 32. A Japanese Mixed-Metal Charger, late 19th-early 20th century. Diameter 12 in., 30.5 cm. Sold for $16,250 (Price Estimate $1,000-2,000). © Hindman LCC.

of lobed circular form having a central panel depicting a smiling fishmonger and scholar, surrounded by roundels depicting auspicious animal and insect figures, having a raised border inset with double-foil motifs and an outermost floral border.

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Lot 56. Kawase Hasui (Japanese, 1883-1957),Densensui no zenkei (Panoramic View of Daisensui Pond) from the set Mitsubishi Fukagawa bettei (Pictures of Mitsubishi Fukagawa Villa), 1920, colored woodblock print, signed Hasui, sealed Hasui.  Height of sheet 7 1/4 x width 18 3/4 in., 18.3 x 47.5 cmSold for $8,750 (Price Estimate $2,000-3,000). © Hindman LCC.