Yongle ewer on offer
Sotheby’s is currently selling the collection of Dr Wou Kiuan (1910-97) across a series of sales – including a third tranche in London on November 1. A Journey Through China’s History: The Dr Wou Kiuan Collection includes this 13in (34cm) high Ming dynasty blue and white ewer from the Yongle (1403-24) period. Based on an Islamic metalwork prototype, this example is particularly impressive for its large and bold lotus blooms. The silver mount added in the 19th century is Ottoman Turkish.
Similar ewers decorated with peonies instead of lotuses also found their way to the Middle East: one with the bridge to the spout and loop on the handle missing is in the Topkapi Palace Museum, Istanbul. Although in China these ewers were used for wine, in the Middle East they would have been accompanied by basins or deep dishes for religious cleansings and for washing hands at mealtimes.
Last sold at Sotheby’s in London in 1966, it has an estimate of £200,000- 250,000.
Born just months before the overthrow of the Qing dynasty, Wou Kiuan (1910- 97) moved to Europe in his 20s and later entered the diplomatic service. He was driven to collect the relics of China’s rich historical past that were fast being scattered across Europe and took advantage of the abundant availability of exceptional material on the London market in the mid-1950s to the late 1960s.
Ming tiers of joy
Standing 6½in (16.5cm) tall, this 15th century Ming dynasty cinnabar lacquer tiered box has an estimate of £8000- 12,000 at Chiswick Auctions’ Asian Art sale on November 16.
Duke’s of Dorchester will hold its sale of Asian Art on December 9. A group of objects from an old antiquarian collection includes this Qing white jade incense burner and cover, 6in (15cm) acquired from San Francisco dealership S Bernstein & Co. The estimate is £8000-15,000.
‘Dragon’ moon flask
This 9in (22cm) high famille rose ‘dragon’ moon flask or bianhu has a Qianlong mark and is of the period. From a private collection in Dorset, it has an estimate of £30,000-50,000 at Dore & Rees in Frome, Somerset, on November 7. A London viewing for this sale will be held at Asian House, W1, from October 30-November 1.
It includes items from the collection of Anthony Lovett (mainly Kangxi famille verte) that will be offered in the equivalent auction next year.
Olympia Auctions’ Asian Works of Art sale on November 9 will include this large 18th century Chinese blue and white charger painted to the interior with a river landscape medallion. Measuring 22in (54cm) across, it is estimated at £600- 800.
Highly symbolic Qianlong plaque
This piece of Qing famille rose porcelain is unmarked but is of imperial quality. From the Qianlong period, the 17in (42cm) square plaque is decorated with a series of highly auspicious symbols. To the central roundel are nine peaches (symbolising longevity) encircled by four bats (representing happiness) while among lotus scroll and ruyi heads are the Eight Buddhist Emblems.
A yellow-ground border decorated with archaic chilong dragons is a homage to ancient ancestors. It comes for sale at Roseberys’ auction of Chinese, Japanese & South East Asian Art on November 8-9 with a guide of £20,000-30,000.
These Qing jade carvings of a bird (estimate £400-600) and two boys at play (£300-500) are part of a collection of Chinese handling hardstones offered at Lay’s in Penzance on October 27.
They come for sale from the grandchildren of Frederic Lipscombe (d.1968), a potter, wood carver, a silversmith, and a printmaker. In the 1930s he taught at art schools in New Zealand and had travelled widely in the Far East before returning to England at the outbreak of war in 1939.
Hexagonal hu shape
Understanding and replicating the pottery and porcelain of previous dynasties was a key part of Qing ceramics production at Jingdezhen.
The famous Ru wares of the Song dynasty in the imperial collection were first sent for copying by the Yongzheng emperor, with his son Qianlong equally beguiled by the distinctive pale duck-egg blue glaze.
This Qianlong mark and period vase in a hexagonal hu shape is a fine example, which has a guide of £120,000-180,000 at Sotheby’s sale titled Monochrome Important Chinese Art on November 2.
Wealthy is not always healthy
Sworders’ Asian Art sale in Stansted Mountfitchet on November 4 includes this 20th century polychrome-enamelled porcelain plaque in the style of Wang Qi (1884-1937). It is painted with a wealthy man and his son clutching tightly to a cash coin inscribed ‘Xing Ming zhi Bao’ (Treasures of Life) with a poor man by their side reaching out.
It is inscribed with a poem describing the danger of greed plus a dedication to commemorate the anniversary of the Jingdezhen School of Fine Art, the signature of Wang Bizhen and two seals reading ‘Wang Qi Hua Yin’ and ‘Zengcai Duoli shi Kong Kong’ (Being aggressive for wealth and profit will end in nothing).
The plaque was acquired at auction in Singapore in 1980 and brought to the UK on retirement in the 1990s. Estimate £10,000- 15,000.
Highlights from the sale will be on view in London at Sworders’ gallery in Cecil Court from October 29 to November 3.
Shunzi jar and cover
Commencing a week of Asian art sales at Bonhams is a two-day sale of Asian Art in Knightsbridge on October 31-November 1. The 500 lots spanning a broad spectrum of ceramics and works of art, textiles and paintings include this Shunzhi period (1644-61) wucai baluster jar and cover decorated with a lady and attendants in a pavilion garden.
Pieces with Rothschild provenance
Dreweatts’ sale of Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on November 9-10 includes a group of porcelain and hardstone carvings previously owned by Anthony de Rothschild (1887-1961). The pieces had been gifted to his daughter Renée Louise Marie de Rothschild (1927-2015) in 1948 when the family home, Ascott House in Buckinghamshire, was given to the National Trust and the contents dispersed to several museums and family members.
This particular selection of a dozen or so works had been packed away and only recently brought to the family’s attention. They bear notes, antiques dealers’ labels and numbers that correlate with the meticulous inventory kept by Anthony de Rothschild. Beginning his collecting odyssey following a trip to China in 1911 (he was an early lender to exhibitions held by the Oriental Ceramics Society founded in 1921), he amassed the majority of his works throughout the 1920s-30s.
This pair of figures of recumbent horses modelled as if about to stand date from the Kangxi period and the estimate is £3000-5000. To the bases are labels for the De Rothschild Collection (number 392) and the New Bond Street dealership S Gorer & Son.
Bonhams’ Chinese works of art offering includes The Marsh Collection: Art for the Literati – a collection of brushpots and other paraphernalia made for the scholar’s table put together over decades. The sale will be conducted in two parts: live in New Bond Street on November 3 (the same day as the firm’s multi-vendor Fine Chinese Art auction) and a ‘without reserve’ online-only sale that runs from October 28-November 7.
Leading the collection is this Kangxi (1662-1722) mark and period blue and white ‘384 shou’ bitong. The design, with continuous rows of shou (‘longevity’) characters in different forms of seal script, is extremely rare and believed to have been made to mark an important imperial birthday. Estimate £80,000- 120,000.
Design with curve appeal
This pair of imperial yellow ground Jiaqing (1796-1820) mark and period Tibetan-style altar ewers or penba hu will be offered by Woolley & Wallis in Salisbury as part of a sale of Chinese Works of Art on November 15.
This distinctive form with its curved spout issuing from the gaping jaws of the head of marks was originally produced in metalwork with porcelain vessels such as these made across the Qing period. Each is brightly enamelled with the Eight Buddhist emblems (Bajixiang) arranged in two registers among lotus blooms. Formerly in an American private collection, the pair has an estimate of £80,000-120,000.
Scholar likes to think and drink
The Fine Asian & Islamic Works of Art sale at Lyon & Turnbull on November 4 features this blue and white ‘drunken scholar’ tripod incense burner (tonglu). It was made in the Transitional period during the reign of Chongzhen (1627-44), the last emperor of the Ming dynasty.
It comes by descent from the family of Lawrence Edward Coleman. The sides of the vessel are finely painted, showing an inebriated scholar reclining and napping on a cloth mat with an overthrown cup aside while an attendant fans a wine ewer on the stove.
Viewing for the sale at is at the firm’s London gallery in Connaught Street.
*Denotes a participant in Asian Art in London