A Rare pair of white jade 'bird' boxes and covers  18th century
Lot 8039
A Rare pair of white jade 'bird' boxes and covers
18th century
Sold for US$ 305,000 inc. premium

Lot Details
A Rare pair of white jade 'bird' boxes and covers  18th century A Rare pair of white jade 'bird' boxes and covers  18th century A Rare pair of white jade 'bird' boxes and covers  18th century A Rare pair of white jade 'bird' boxes and covers  18th century A Rare pair of white jade 'bird' boxes and covers  18th century A Rare pair of white jade 'bird' boxes and covers  18th century A Rare pair of white jade 'bird' boxes and covers  18th century A Rare pair of white jade 'bird' boxes and covers  18th century A Rare pair of white jade 'bird' boxes and covers  18th century A Rare pair of white jade 'bird' boxes and covers  18th century A Rare pair of white jade 'bird' boxes and covers  18th century A Rare pair of white jade 'bird' boxes and covers  18th century A Rare pair of white jade 'bird' boxes and covers  18th century A Rare pair of white jade 'bird' boxes and covers  18th century A Rare pair of white jade 'bird' boxes and covers  18th century A Rare pair of white jade 'bird' boxes and covers  18th century A Rare pair of white jade 'bird' boxes and covers  18th century A Rare pair of white jade 'bird' boxes and covers  18th century
A Rare pair of white jade 'bird' boxes and covers
18th century
Each crisply carved as a long-tailed bird, the lower body with finely detailed claws tucked underneath comprising the box, and the upper body comprising the cover with carefully incised feathers leading to a stiffly upright tail, each bird clasping in its beak a multi-headed branch of lingzhi fungus variously inlaid with rose quartz and jadeite, the jade of an attractive pale green with cloudy highlights; tiered wood stands.
6in (15.4cm) long, each

Footnotes

  • 十八世紀 青白玉鳥形蓋盒

    Provenance
    An East Coast private collection
    Collection of Edward M. M. Warburg, by repute
    Yamanaka & Co., The American Art Galleries, New York, 22 February 1913, The Remarkable Collection of the Imperial Prince Kung of China, lot 26 (illustrated), by repute
    Prince Gong, Puwei (1880-1936), by repute
    Prince Gong, Yixin (1833-1898), by repute



    Of the numerous important sales of Chinese art arranged by Yamanaka Sadajiro in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, none is more legendary then the "The Remarkable Collection of the Imperial Prince Kung" held in New York over the course of three days in the late winter of 1913. Yamanaka acquired the entire collection from Puwei (Prince Gong, 1880-1936) who inherited the multi-building compound Gong Wangfu (Prince Gong's Mansion) and its contents from his grandfather Yixin (Prince Gong, 1833-1898), the sixth son of the Daoguang emperor. Prior to being occupied by the Qing royal lineage, the mansion was the home of He Shen, the notoriously powerful eunuch under the Qianlong emperor.
    With the fall of the Qing in 1912, keen art dealers like Yamanaka saw a tremendous opportunity for acquiring important examples of Chinese art from the most patrician families of Beijing. Arriving in the summer of 1912, just months after the Xuantong Emperor Puyi's abdication in February of that year, Yamanaka made arrangements to acquire the contents of the mansion from Puwei, who was seeking asylum in the German protectorate and facing accumulating debt. In Yamanaka's words "by his (Prince Gong) orders, everything was as he left, even to a half-smoked cigarette."
    Within months, the property from the royal home was being uncrated in New York City, to be offered February 27th – March 1st on Madison Square South. The sale brought $279,805 (an equivalent of roughly $6,800,000 in 2016 dollars) for 535 lots, and the buyers that peppered the salesroom were among the cognoscenti of the day. Joseph Duveen, C. T. Loo, John D. Rockefeller Jr, and Louis C. Tiffany all successfully bid, and museums would benefit immediately with Charles Lang Freer spending lavishly on three archaic jades and three Shang bronzes. The New York Times review of the sale on March 2, noted that "Big prices were the rule at the Prince Kung sale" but sadly noted "the art treasures of the Palace were neglected and covered with dust and dirt when the arrangement was made to have them brought to this country." The high prices achieved in the sale had an unfortunate aftershock as shortly after the sale American Art News warned its readers that there was a rash of counterfeit bronzes being offered "of modern manufacture and of inferior quality" and "probably inspired by the high figures brought...at the Prince Kung sale
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