Chinese paintings, calligraphy and fine snuff bottles abound at Bonhams Asian Decorative Arts Auction

Asian Decorative Arts

Chinese paintings, calligraphy and fine snuff bottles abound at Bonhams Asian Decorative Arts Auction

San Francisco—Bonhams is pleased to announce the Year of the Snake's first Asian Decorative Arts auction in San Francisco on Tuesday, March 12.

The sale will include 460 lots of Chinese ceramics and decorative arts, and more than 100 lots of artworks from Japan, Korea and other Asian countries and regions, from private collections and estates, as well as from institutions and non-profit organisations. There will be property from the collection of Joseph Klein (1899-1987); the Alan E. Feen collection; the Sarkisian collection, Denver, Colorado; the collection of Herman A. Blumenthal, Art Director for 20th Century Fox, 1947-1980; a private collection, Geneva, Switzerland; a New York Estate; the J. Russell Wherritt Administration Trust; the Estate of Charles and Eleanor de Limur, San Francisco; a Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco; and the Tacoma Art Museum. There will also be unaccessioned property from the Honolulu Museum of Art, sold to benefit future museum acquisitions.

The sale's lots encompass a wide range of materials, dating from the Neolithic period (about 4,000 BC) to the 20th century, all set at conservative estimates to encourage the participation of worldwide buyers.

The auction will commence with jade and hardstone carvings. Highlights in the section will include two white jade carvings of boys, 18th/19th century (est. $1,500-2,500); a group of three carved jade libation cups from late Ming/Qing dynasty (est. $3,000-5,000); two attractive 19th century white jade bangles, sold to benefit the Tacoma Art Museum (est. $1,500-2,000); and a late Qing/Republic period, spinach jade lotus-form libation vessel from a private Bay Area Collector (est. $900-1,300).

There will be nearly 70 lots of fine and decorative snuff bottles for collectors, including such star lots as a white jade snuff bottle with carved decoration, 1780-1840, sold to benefit the Tacoma Art Museum ($1,500-2,000), and an inside-painted glass snuff bottle by Yian Yutian (est. $1,000-1,500).

A pair of massive cloisonné enamelled metal covered urns is one of the most attractive offerings in the sale. The pair, with elaborate, rich and classic floral and ba jixiang design, reveals infinite patience in the execution process, as well as the high skill level of the cloisonné enamel craftsmanship during the 19th century in China. The very conservative $12,000-18,000 estimate for the item offers an exciting opportunity for any interested buyers to participate in the bidding, and possibly add the striking pair to his or her collection. The metalwork section also will feature bronzes dating from the Shang dynasty to the 18th century.

Forty-two lots of Chinese paintings and calligraphy work will be on offer. Two highlights in the section will include a couplet of calligraphy in running script by Yan Fu (1854-1921), and an austere fisherman and landscape-themed ink painting, attributed to Lu Wei (17th-early 18th century), estimated at $2,500-4,000 and $2,000-3,000, respectively.

Diverse examples from various periods are represented in the Chinese ceramics section. Among the star lots are a Tang dynasty straw glazed pottery amphora, sold to benefit the Honolulu Museum of Art (est. $1,200-1,800), and a large famille verte enamelled porcelain fish bowl from the late Qing/Republic period (est. $2,000-3,000).

A good variety of furniture, textiles and other works of art also constitute portions of the Chinese art section.

In addition to traditionally popular netsuke, okimono and sagemono, a group of fine quality decorative bronze works, mostly from the Meiji to the Showa periods, is available in the Japanese works of art section. One noteworthy example is a bronze vase with mixed metal inlay by Hattori Studio, Meiji period (est. $1,500-2,000).

The sale will conclude with Korean and other Asian works of art.

The sale's illustrated catalogue will be available online several weeks in advance of the auction at


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to

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