With an important Eighth Century B.C. Chinese bronze vessel leading I.M. Chait’s July 12 International Fine Arts Auction, collectors can be assured that properties meet the new regulations for import dates of Chinese Antiquities as outlined in the 2008 Memorandum of Understanding between the US and China.
The MOU, which affects the importation of Chinese items from the Archaic age through the end of the Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.C.), became effective in the waning days of the Bush Administration.
According to I.M. (Izzy) Chait, President of the widely respected auction house, many of the items in the collections had been purchased from the Gallery in previous years. Others carry impressive credentials, among them a Paolo Verdes Estates collection of archaic bronzes and the Lee Youngren Collection of antique ivory and wood netsukes.
This comfort level should more than increase interest in the museum-quality Early Western Zhou Dynasty (1027-771 B.C.) bronze vessel estimated at $80,000. (Lot 205) Known in Chinese as a gui, the archaic container has a domed lid and is decorated with the intertwined geometrics characteristic of the era. Fantastical animal-heads decorate the handles and legs. An inscription inside the cover completes its attributes.
Other archaic bronze highlights include Lot 206, a pair of massive covered Hu (wine storage containers) from the Warring States Period. The rounded bodies are adorned with bands of scrolled decoration and each has an inscription at the neck. Lot 207, a large Western Zhou ritual food vessel with C-scroll handles is banded with whorls and geometrics. It too bears an inscription, on the interior. Both are in the $20,000 to $30,000 range.
Lot 204, a Chinese Ming Dynasty porcelain dish in a smooth yellow enamel glaze highlights the ceramics collections. The beauty of the yellow glaze (created through low temperature firing) is made all the more outstanding by underglaze cobalt blue and white flowers on both the plate’s top and underside. This masterpiece of form, painting and firing bears the rare Zhengde Emperor’s mark. It is expected to bring $70,000 or more.
A private Japanese collection housed the Yuan Dynasty blue-and-white porcelain charger that is Lot 203. The masterfully painted platter has a palm-like plant at its center surrounded with fruit, squash and blossoms on vines. Lotus blossoms encircle all. A diaper pattern band at the rim adds even more finesse. Almost 16 inches in diameter, the 14th Century charger is an impressive addition to any collection at about $70,000.
Other porcelains and pottery in the sale include a rare Yuan Dynasty underglaze decorated yuhu, Lot 201, expected to fetch upwards of $25,000, and a fine Yuan blue and white bowl, Lot 202, expected to command around $20,000.
In a category of its own is the Tang Dynasty Libation cup, Lot 203, carved of white marble. Extremely rare and finely rendered with thin walls and a snarling dragon snout, the 5-inch tall gem carries a catalog estimate of $25,000.
Both Chinese and Japanese tradition favor ivory carvings and nowhere is there more variety than in this auction.
A pair of antique tusks, Lot 239, is handsomely and elaborately reticulated with figural scenes depicting sages, warriors, farmers and travelers set amid flowering branches. The early 19th Century pair are displayed on their original carved pine-motif wooden stands.
Lot 240, a finely carved ivory brush pot is a remarkable example of the reverence afforded Chinese painters and scholars in the 19th Century. Only 9 ½-inches tall, it is articulated with miniscule court scenes being played out in ornate gardens. Of cylindrical form, the brush pot has a lacquered interior and rests on an openwork wooden stand.
A more capricious approach to the art of carving, Lot 242, is a large Japanese “treasure” boat. Comprised of sections, the boat has a feathered phoenix at the prow, a tall mast with two billowing sails and a rudder that moves. On board are the Seven Gods of Fortune (Shichifukujin) and two young boys. The ornately carved boat is 29” inches tall and rides on a wave form wooden stand.
Unique to this auction is an exceptionally strong collection of Asian deities and figures rendered in limestone, sandstone, ivory and jade.
Highlights include a large Northern Qi Dynasty (550-577 A.D.) head of Guanyin (Lot 235) carved of limestone. Lot 230 is an 11th Century full-length figure of Uma (Parvati), consort of Shiva, mother of Ganesha and Skanda. There is also a rare 12th Century-style, Ankor-type bronze figure of Ganesha. (Lot 231). There is also a fine Indian Jain carved stone stele, Lot 234
Two red sandstone Indian figures still show the dexterity of their 11th Century carvers. Lot 232 is a partially nude female torso with full bosom and garlands. It was last seen at Lempertz, the German auction house. Lot 233 is a divine couple, or Mithuna, standing side by side. He holds a large sword and caresses the woman. She has one arm over his shoulder. The Mithuna was formerly in the Avery Brundage Collection of the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.
Estimates on the collection of deities range from $6,000 to $24,000.
The July 12 sale winds up with a fine collection of jewelry that includes Rolex and Patek Philippe wristwatches and 18 lots of exquisite jade jewelry. Lot 274, for instance, a pair of jadeite and diamond earrings, is fashioned of bright emerald-green cabochons set in platinum surrounded and surmounted with diamonds.