Bonhams Hong Kong Chinese Works of Art
Two Sales on 29 May Total HK$88.8 Million

Hong KongA Magnificent and Important Yangcai Painted 'Imperial Poems and Landscapes' Incised Celadon-Ground Lobed Oval Vase sold in Hong Kong today (29 May) at Bonhams Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale for HK$32,253,000/ approximately US$4,135,000, after a 15-minute bidding war from global bidders. It is exceedingly rare to find a famille rose and celadon-glazed vase of this shape and design, and this prized example is striking in its lustrous glaze, exquisitely-painted panels and combination of carved and moulded decorative motifs. The vase displays the very high level of quality achieved by craftsmen working at the Imperial kilns at Jingdezhen during the reign of the Qianlong emperor. The paintings in the four medallions depict four landscapes, each associated with one of the four seasons and with a short poem by the Qianlong emperor. Other similar vases are only found in institutions, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum, National Museum of China, and Manchester City Art Gallery.

Another showstopper of the sale belonged to An Exceptionally Rare and Important Pair of Blue and White Octagonal 'Floral' Candlesticks, Yongle, which sold for HK$30,453,000 / approximately US$3,904,000, against an estimate of HK$15,000,000-25,000,000. To date, there have only been very few examples of blue and white octagonal candlesticks made in the Yongle period that are known to exist in the world. Four of them have been collected and published by public institutions, leaving only two surviving examples – the current pair sold today – in private hands. The pair sets a new record price for a pair Yongle Period Candlestick sold at an international auction house.

The octagonal candlestick is one of the most remarkable shapes found in the repertoire of early 15th century blue and white porcelain, and they continued to be made in limited numbers during the later Xuande period. The distinctive style is inspired by early Islamic metalwork, particularly of the 13th/14th century, but the charming octagonal form is an invention of the Chinese potter. In fact, there was a great variety of Islamic shapes in the Chinese Imperial collections, which was likely due to the taste at the court of Yongle and Xuande for the exotic works of art. Nonetheless, the Islamic shapes were hardly seen again until the early Qing dynasty, and the remarkable octagonal candlesticks – which called for top craftmanship and techniques – never reappeared.

Commenting on the results, Bonhams Global Head of Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art Asaph Hyman said: "I am delighted with the strong results demonstrating the robustness of the market. It was wonderful to see the global participation across all price points."

Director of Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Department Keason Tang added: "This is a market which values rarity and quality. The octagonal candlesticks – the only surviving pair of their kind in private hands – fetched the record-breaking price that they deserve, and the Yangcai Painted Celadon-Ground Lobed Oval Vase commanded a top price as well. But Bonhams is not just about the top prices, we also care about cultivating passion and understanding in Chinese art, offering sales that are fun and thematically curated but at friendlier price points, as seen in 'More Than A Game: Games in Chinese Art' sale."

Sale summary:

Combined total of HK$88.8million

Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art
o Sale total: HK$78.9million, eclipsing pre-sale high estimate
o 95% sold by value

More Than A Game: Games in Chinese Art
o Sale total: HK$9.94million, eclipsing pre-sale high estimate
o 84% sold by value
o All 35 but five lots of bronze arrow vases from The Brian Harkins Collection sold, led by A Very Rare and Large Bronze 'Boys' Stupa-Shaped Arrow Vase, Touhu, which realised HK$1,036,200. Estimate: HK$500,000-800,000.
o Top lot of the sale: A Rare Large 'Hundred Boys' Kesi Panel, Jiajing/Wanli
Sold for HK$1,389,000. Estimate: HK$500,000-600,000.

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