After four days of live auctions, Asian Art Week at Christie’s New York (10-13 September) drew to a close with a total of $41,641,250 / £33,752,998 (including buyer’s premium). The series drew bidders from 36 countries across five continents, and saw 11 new world auction records set across the different categories. The complementary online sales run until 25 September.
‘The strong sell-through rates and prices realised this season reinforce the stability of the market and the global demand across all categories of Chinese art spanning jades, ceramics, gold and silver, furniture, and painting,’ remarked Tina Zonars, Chairman of Asian Art at Christie’s.
The top lot of the week was a rare and important large parcel-gilt silver bowl in the form of an open lotus blossom. Dated to the Tang dynasty and formerly in the collection of Swedish connoisseur Dr. Johan Carl Kempe (1884-1967), the vessel achieved $3,495,000 — a world auction record for a Chinese silver work of art.
The season opened with the Fine Chinese Paintings sale, which realised $2,341,750 / £1,897,690. Hibiscus by Zhang Daqian, a hanging scroll in ink and colour on paper from 1948, produced the highest price at $591,000, while the Portrait of Cao Xueqin by contemporary Chinese artist Wang Ziwu sold for $231,250, more than 20 times its low estimate.
The following day, the South Asian Modern & Contemporary Art sale achieved $7,505,250 / £6,077,126, selling 86 per cent by value. ‘This year marked an important milestone for Christie’s as we celebrated 25 years in India,’ said Nishad Avari, Christie’s Head of South Asian Modern and Contemporary Art. ‘We were delighted with the strong results of this season’s sale.’
The top lot of the sale was La Terre, 1977, by Indian Modernist S.H. Raza, which sold for $3,015,000 after 11 minutes of competitive bidding. Shortly afterwards, a world auction record was set for Pakistani abstract artist Shakir Ali when Leaves (1960) achieved $87,500. Strong results were also achieved by fellow Indian Modernist Francis Newton Souza whose Head in a Landscape, a portrait from 1958, realised $471,000.
The Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Works of Art sale totalled $3,003,750 / £2,432,186, led by a magnificent Tibetan gilt-bronze figure of Vajrasattva, which fetched $615,000. The Dorothy and Richard Sherwood Collection achieved exceptional results, with a large and important buff sandstone relief depicting the seven divine mothers from Central India selling for $275,000.
The Masterpieces of Early Chinese Gold and Silver sale on 12 September realised $12,163,750 / £9,873,174. In addition to the record-breaking parcel-gilt silver bowl, highlights included a Yuan-dynasty gold ‘Dragon’-handled cup ($2,535,000) and a gold headdress with galloping horse motif at each end, dating to the 7th-9th century AD ($250,000).
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The Chinese Art from the Art Institute of Chicago sale totalled $5,004,250 / £4,061,891, selling 100 per cent by lot and 100 per cent by value. The top lot was a very rare Qianlong-period blue and white dragon and lotus vase, which sold for $519,000.
Other notable results included a rare and unusual large green-glazed and iron-red-decorated moulded ‘dragon’ vase, which sold for $337,000, more than 18 times its high estimate; and a rare Southern Song-Yuan dynasty Jizhou stencil-decorated pear-shaped vase, which achieved $150,000 — five times its high estimate. A small Langyao Meiping — a high-shouldered vase — from the Kangxi period also soared past its high estimate before selling for $137,500.
A famille rose mille fleurs lantern vase dating to the Jiaqing period led the Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale on 13 September. The vase, which bears an iron-red six- character seal and mark of the period, fetched $879,000. The sale closed the week with a total of $11,622,500 / £9,410,931.