Dreweatts achieved their highest price to date in the Asian art market when an 18th century Sino-Tibetan thangka depicting the Milarepa cult sold for £450,000 at the firm’s first sale marking their participation in the Asian Art in London initiative.
Monumental in size at 4ft 2in by 2ft 9in (1.27m x 86cm), this
thangka - consigned from a private collection in Europe -
represents one of the finest products of the Karma Gardri School of
Eastern Tibet where Chinese stylistic conventions were carefully
woven into the language of Tibetan art.
The unusual subject, presented flanked by his students in a
mountainous landscape setting of waterfalls and clouds, is the yogi
Milarepa, an 11th/12th century Tibetan who
rejected black magic and worldly possessions in favour of a
Himalayan retreat where he achieved enlightenment. The stories of
demons, mountain goddesses and mythical hunters he told through
songs provide the inspiration for this thangka.
In size and execution it bears great similarity to surviving
thangkas depicting the Ninth Karmapa, Wanchung Dorje (Rubin Museum,
New York) and The Adept Tilopa (US private collection) and may have
been part of the same set.
Estimated at £60,000-80,000 for the sale on November 11, it
eventually sold to a private European buyer at £450,000.
Commenting on this price after the sale executive chairman
Stephan Ludwig said: "It should be noted that we are unique amongst
most of our peers in dropping the buyer's premium down to 12% at
£150,000 thus making higher value lots of this nature materially
cheaper for our buyers."
The same vendor was also the consignor of a 19th century Chinese
Imperial consort's formal court robe or jifu.
Worked to an apricot-ground, it is embroidered in shades of
blue, green, red, aubergine and ochre and couched vibrant gold
threads with nine five-clawed dragons clutching or confronting
flaming pearls amidst dense ruyi clouds interspersed with
bats and the Eight Precious Things. The matching dark blue-ground
cuffs and collar are worked with further dragons amidst bats,
clouds and waves.
Estimated at £8000-10,000, it sold at £35,000 to a UK buyer.
The sale - just 84 lots that brought a premium-inclusive total
of £810,000 - also included an outstanding Kinkozan Satsuma vase by
Sozan. This is not a strong market but few pieces are decorated
with such elaborately pierced and moulded upper sections, a feat of
technical virtuosity for both the potter and the kiln handlers.
Signed in an elaborate baroque cartouche Dai Nihon Satsuma
Kinkozan sei, the 12in (30cm) vase carries a further signature
on the reserve, Sozan ga and also an oval Kinkozan paper
label to base. After Yabu Meizan, Sozan is arguably the most sought
after of the Meiji Satsuma artists and this was clearly a deluxe
Offered in its original wooden box (that also carried a paper
label reading S. Kinkozan Manufacturer of Fine Porcelains
Kyoto, Japan, Established 1643) it improved upon what
were modest hopes £3000-5000, to sell at £30,000 to a private
The buyer's premium was 24/12%.