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“The prices achieved for the Qing period ceramics we sold demonstrate the demand for this type of object,” said Christie’s specialist Pola Antebi. “But the demand for the Ming and Song ceramics in the Manno Museum sale showed what is also important is good provenance.”

Ten Asian auctions, including six Chinese and Southeast Asian paintings sales, took place at Christie’s (19.5%/10% buyer’s premium) and Sotheby’s (18%/ 12% buyer’s premium) from October 27 to 30, with selling rates by lot ranging from 42 per cent to 82 per cent and by value from 40 per cent to 94 per cent.

Both houses observed the increasing participation of mainland Chinese buyers either bidding in person or through Hong Kong dealers. They were joined by other Asian buyers, including Taiwanese and Japanese and also by dealers and collectors from the US, the UK and Europe.

Although Sotheby’s boasted the week’s biggest price for a Chinese painting – a collector paid HK$18m (£1,551,725) for renowned Chinese artist Zhang Daqian’s (1899-1983) bold and expansive Crimson Lotuses on Gold Screen, 1975, ink and colour on silk, in their 158-lot outing on October 28 – Christie’s had the strongest selection of ceramics and works of art.

While their 214-lot Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, October 28, had the poorest take-up by lot of all the Asian series at 42 per cent, the sale totalled a premium-inclusive HK$93,821,770 (£8,088,085) and produced the week’s most coveted Chinese ceramic entry: an imperial Yongzheng (1723-35) famille rose prunus dish with a blue enamel four-character mark and in excellent condition. Estimated at HK$20-30m, it sold to a Hong Kong dealer bidding on behalf of a client for HK$29.5m (£2,543,100).

This dish belongs to a small group of finely enamelled porcelains from the latter half of the Yongzheng reign and early Qianlong dynasty that represent the apogee of Chinese enamelled wares. In addition to quality and condition, the dish is also related in design to several examples in museums such as the Tokyo National Museum
and London’s Percival David Foundation.

Decorated with a prunus branch stemming from the underside of the vessel and curling over the rim to blossom into a feast of pink and yellow flowerheads, the design is accompanied by a poem yearning for spring that translates ‘In due time the fragrant buds will blossom through the snow’.

The Japanese-taste works in Christie’s 74-lot Important Chinese Art from the Manno Art Museum, October 28 – comprising Song ceramics, Ming porcelain, Chinese lacquer, ancient bronzes and paintings – not only appealed to the Japanese but to an international array of buyers, and amongst those bidding at the sale were London’s Eskenazi Ltd and Richard Littleton from Oriental Arts (UK) Ltd.

According to Pola Antebi, “the museum has decided to redefine its collection and focus on Japanese tea wares”. This is Christie’s second sizeable dispersal of works from Japan’s Manno Art Museum (aside from a handful of Chinese jades offered a year ago at Christie’s, Hong Kong. The first tranche predominantly consisted on Japanese works and was sold at Christie’s, King Street, June 2001.

The sale had a 68 per cent take-up by lot and totalled a premium inclusive HK$59,711,280 (£5,147,525).

Foremost was an unusual black ding partridge feather conical bowl from the Northern Song dynasty (960-11127AD) that had been widely exhibited in Asia and published on numerous occasions. Few examples of black glazed ding ware survive and the glaze produced on these early ceramics is acknowledged by many connoisseurs as being the finest black glaze ever produced in China.

Rarity coupled with condition and provenance (it was formerly in the celebrated Chinese ceramics collection of Mr and Mrs Eugene Bernat), combined to see the bowl pursued to HK$11.2m (£965,520) by a Japanese dealer on behalf of a Japanese collector.

Sotheby’s 175-lot Chinese ceramics and works of art sale sold 47 per cent by lot and totalled HK$54,904,100 (£4,733,110) including premium and, as at Christie’s, a Qing dynasty ceramic brought the biggest money, when a large pair of famille rose vases, iron red seal mark and period of Qianlong (1736-95), realised HK$5,600,000 (£482,760) from an Asian collector.

They were decorated with the ‘hundred boy’ design of children enjoying the New Year festivities – an auspicious design and as popular now as it was in the Ming and Qing dynasties, and one that confers wealth and abundant offspring on the owners of the vessel.