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A set of four Ming dynasty huanghuali folding chairs or jiaoyi sold at £4.5m, and a pair of tapering cabinets or yuanjiaogui (£1.4m) helped the firm’s November 9 Chinese art sale to a market-topping £9.9m.

The chairs, documented by the scholar Gustav Ecke in 1944, are the only known examples of their type, with multiple bidders attacking the £150,000-200,000 estimate.

Bonhams’ vendor was a descendant of Marchese Taliani, a distinguished Italian diplomat who from 1938-46 served as ambassador to China. As shown by surviving purchase invoices, he patronised dealers active in war-torn Shanghai and Beijing between 1938-46.

Bonhams’ international head of Chinese art, Asaph Hyman, described the best-selling lots as “unquestionably masterpieces”.

The firm’s Fine Japanese art sale of the same day took £900,000, while the Knightsbridge mixed-discipline Asian sale on November 6-7 hammered a record £1.9m.

Sotheby’s posted the other seven-figure lot of the series, selling a pair of Yongzheng famille rose cups to the Asian trade at £1.6m on November 8.

They were enamelled with ‘sanduo’ fruits – pomegranate, peach and loquat – representing long life, offspring and bountifulness.

The cups had sold as part of the Edward T Chow collection in 1974 and had last changed hands at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in 2004 when they fetched HK$7m (£500,000) including premium. Sotheby’s sale total was £5m.

A pair of 17th century huanghuali horseshoe back armchairs or quanyi topped Christie’s £6.9m November 7 Chinese art sale, selling at £750,000.

Sales in the regions continue this week.

Prize winners


Suzannah Yip, director of Bonhams’ Japanese department, accepted the AAIL award for auctioneers from ATG editor Noelle McElhatton, pictured with AAIL chairman Roger Keverne.

Capping a good week for Bonhams, its Bond Street operation won the first-ever Asian Art in London award for an outstanding work offered by an auction house during the festival (November 2-10).

At a British Museum gala on November 9, Bonhams won the auctioneer award for its Shibata Zeshin (1807-91) lacquer panel from the Misumi Collection, which sold last week.

Judges rated the sparing beauty of the plaque’s design as an example of the mastery of lacquer work by a top Meiji-period artist, which is still in its original frame.

The work, estimated at £150,000-200,000, was sold privately before the auction for an undisclosed sum.

Priestley & Ferraro won the AAIL dealer award for its rare early Ming imperial red lacquer bowl stand, carved with dragons and lotus.

The awards were co-sponsored and co-judged by Antiques Trade Gazette (see Back Page story in ATG No 2317 for pictures).