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.
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).