Tue, Mar 3, 2015

Art & Auctions
Major Asian art sale set for New York

Christie’s upcoming Asian Art Week in New York, US, will feature a series of sales, lectures and public events led by the collection of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth, the distinguished American scholar, dealer and collector whose groundbreaking work transformed the study and appreciation of Asian art around the world. 

Running from March 15 to 21, the week will present property from several private collections of Indian and Southeast Asian works of art, Chinese paintings, and most notably from the collection of Julia and John Curtis, a sale of important 17th century Chinese porcelains. 

In addition to the sales, Christie’s will have on view Modern + Contemporary: Masterpieces from the Subcontinent, a special presentation of South Asian modern and contemporary art to be sold for private sale.


The sale of Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art will be held over March 15 and 16 and feature over 300 lots that span over 3,000 years and a myriad collecting categories, including jade carvings, archaic bronzes, early pottery and figures, gilt-bronze figures, textiles, and snuff bottles. 

Highlighting the sale is a massive and highly important gilt-bronze figure of Vajrabhairava Ekavira, from the Ming dynasty, 15th century (estimate: $4-6 million). This impressively cast and monumental figure is among the largest and most significant works of Tibeto-Chinese sculpture to appear on the market in several years. The extraordinary size and level of detail suggests it was produced in the imperial workshops of Beijing in the 15th century, a period of wide-reaching cultural exchange and religious efflorescence within Ming China. 

Other outstanding works include an exquisite and exceptionally rare Geyao water pot, Southern Song-Yuan dynasty (1127-1279) (estimate: $1-1.5 million), the highlight of the early ceramics portion of the sale.

Additional works include a magnificent and extremely rare large cloisonné enamel ‘dragon’ jar and cover, 15th-16th century (estimate: $1.5-2.5 million), a pair of magnificent large bronze figures of luohan, Ming dynasty, 15th century (estimate: $1-1.5 million); a magnificent pair of painted pottery figures of Earth Spirits, zhenmushou, Tang dynasty (AD 618-907)(estimate: $350,000-450,000); and a superb selection of textiles from the collection of Myrna and Sam Myers, which is highlighted by rare imperial untailored gold brocaded silk twill court overcoat, gua, Kangxi period, late 17th century (estimate: $250,000-350,0000).


A sale titled An Era of Inspiration: 17th-Century Chinese Porcelains from the Collection of Julia and John Curtis on March 16 will feature 95 lots, each vividly showcasing the talent and creativity of the 17th-century porcelain artisans. The exhibition, symposium and sale of this carefully assembled and meticulously researched collection will provide collectors and scholars the unique opportunity to engage with the brilliantly decorated porcelains produced in this short period of time.


Christie’s sale of Fine Chinese Paintings will take place on March 17 and feature 143 traditional and modern works. 

Leading the sale is Zhang Daqian’s The Three Peaks of Mount Hua, Landscape in the style of Shitao (estimate: $150,000-250,000). This painting by the versatile and prolific artist created a complex imagery of Mount Hua with cultural references in his poem inscribed at the top. 

The cover lot of this sale is Yu Fei’an’s Butterfly and Plum Blossom (estimate: $50,000-80,000) - a refined picture painted when the artist was 64 and at the peak of his maturity and skill. 

Additional highlights include Plum Blossom, a painting by Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908) (estimate: $10,000-15,000), consigned by a family who served the royal court. While the Empress’s calligraphy and blossoms are elegant and controlled, the contorted branches reach upward with unexpected energy, creating a unique composition. 

This sale also features Collage of Abstract Landscapes by Liu Kuo-sung (Liu Guosong, b. 1932), the ‘father of Chinese modern ink.’ Painted in 1988, the artist explores the interaction of ink or color, water, and paper- a contemporary work, yet traditional and representative of the natural world (estimate: $50,000-70,000).


Christie’s landmark five-day auction series devoted to the collection of the celebrated American scholar, dealer and collector Robert Hatfield Ellsworth runs from March 17 to 21 at Christie’s flagship New York galleries at Rockefeller Center. 

After successful tours to Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, Tokyo, and London last autumn, Christie's is unveiling Ellsworth’s collection of over 1,400 lots that will be sold without reserve via an extended, eight-day public exhibition leading up to the start of the auction series. This extraordinary collection, widely considered to be one of the most important private collection of Asian art ever to come to market, is expected to realize in excess of $35 million.


A sale of Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Works of Art will take place on March 18 and offer 61 exquisite paintings and sculpture from India, Tibet, Nepal, and Southeast Asia.

Among the sale highlights is an exceptionally cast bronze figure of Vajrabhairava and Shakti, Tibet, 18th century (estimate: $500,000-700,000), among the finest sculptural figures of its kind; a rare and highly important 13th century painting of Amogapasha Lokeshvara, (estimate: $600,000-800,000), the embodiment of compassion; and a large and important stone figure of a Buddha, Northeastern India, Pala Period, 10th century (estimate: $600,000-800,000), rare for its type, size and quality, exemplifying the gentle finesse of Pala stone sculpture.


Meanwhile, a private selling exhibition titled Modern + Contemporary: Masterpieces from the Subcontinent will be held from March 11 to 21, coinciding with the series of auctions during Asian Art Week. 

The exhibition features modern works by Vasudeo S. Gaitonde, Maqbool Fida Husain, Krishen Khanna, Ram Kumar, Tyeb Mehta and Syed Haider Raza, and explores the unfolding story of modern art in Post-independence India from the early 1950s through the 1970s, when modernism comes into its own and crystallizes its identity. 

The exhibition’s dialogue on the lasting influence on modern Indian art is complemented by contemporary works from Alwar Balasubramaniam and Zarina, who are both highly regarded in museum and collector circles alike for their extremely well-conceived and produced pieces.

Christie’s, one of the world's leading art business, had global auction and private sales in 2014 that totalled $8.4 billion, making it the highest annual total in Christie’s history.

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