Chronology : 1-1000 1680-1699 1700-1719 1720-1729 1942 1993
756 Gods, Sages and Emperors
2011 SOLD 115 M RMB yuan by China Guardian
narrated post sale
The guqin is the first of the four treasures of the scholar, ahead of Chinese go, calligraphy and ink painting. It was known since ancient times and the Chinese tradition likes to assign it with a pre-dynastic origin. Confucius is quoted among the sages who improved the instrument.
The classical seven-string guqin provides a music of great subtlety facilitated by the dots of harmony distributed on the surface. The wooden back is also an invitation to the inscription of poems.
The Imperial guqins are of great rarity. One of them named Da Sheng Yi Yin (reminiscent of the great sage) was sold for RMB yuan 115 million by China Guardian in 2011.
It was produced for or by the Emperor Suzong of the Tang. Lacquered in black and brown, it wears a poem and a seal and its harmonics match the months of the Chinese calendar. Its date is corresponding to 756 in our own calendar. Both sides are illustrated in an article shared by China Daily.
In December 2010, Poly sold for RMB yuan 137 million including premium (US $ 20.7 million in the conversion rate of that time) an imperial Song guqin made for the Emperor Huizong in 1120 of our calendar.
1120 Song Guqin
2010 SOLD for RMB 137M including premium by Poly
narrated in 2021
The esthete emperor was also a music lover. A self-portrait shows him playing the guqin, the zither with seven plucked strings used since the time of Confucius, 1600 years earlier.
An imperial guqin dated to the second year of Xuanhe, 1120 CE, has remained in a superb condition which has preserved its original sound. Some restorations under the Qing did not alter its sound box. According to the tradition for the most prestigious instruments, its name echoes its sound : Song Shi Jian Yi, stones amidst pine trees.
This classically shaped luxuriously lacquered instrument measures 126 cm overall, 21 cm shoulder wide and 4.7 cm thick.
After having been owned since 1953 by Fan Boyan, a famous guqin player in Shanghai, it was sold on December 5, 2010 by Poly for RMB 137M including premium from a lower estimate of RMB 20M, lot 5681. It is illustrated in the post sale report by People's Daily.
Yu Shu Tang Guqin
2010 SOLD for RMB 58M by Suzhou Wumen
narrated in 2021
This 128 cm long undated instrument is of the Jiaoye type, in English banana leaf, so named for its wavy edges. It has lost its bottom. It is painted in black and red and is inscribed Yu Shu Tang.
Built at the end of the Ming Dynasty, Yu Shu Tang was an official residence in the city of Qufu which served to receive emperors and imperial envoys visiting the Confucian temple. Qufu was the hometown of Confucius, who is the most ancient witness to the use of the guqin.
The construction of this instrument is very luxurious, and there is no doubt that it was played in the Yu Shu Tang. Experts believe that it later belonged to the Qianlong emperor.
1697 Molitor Stradivarius violin
2010 SOLD for $ 3.6M by Tarisio
1715 pair of Kangxi Dragon ritual bells
2009 SOLD for HK$ 45.5M including premium by Christie's
narrated in 2019 before the sale of another bell by Tessier et Sarrou (see below)
Music is the supreme art that offers a perfect interpretation of all elements of nature including yin and yang. The imperial bianzhong are dated, as are the guqin.
In the Qing era, an imperial carillon is composed of sixteen bells including four repeated tones in high and low octaves. The gilt bronze bells are decorated with dragons in high relief.
On May 27, 2009, Christie's sold for HK $ 45.5M including premium from a lower estimate of HK $ 10M a pair of 30 cm high bells giving the 4th and 11th notes, dated Kangxi wushisi nian shi corresponding to 1715 CE, lot 1818.
On December 16, 2019, Tessier et Sarrou sold for € 670K including premium a 21 cm high bell dated Kangxi bing shen nian zhi corresponding to 1716 CE. It is set for the huang zhong which is the basic tone of the scale. The dragons are imperial, with five claws per paw.
1721 The Lady Blunt
2011 SOLD 9.8 M£ including premium
An interesting hypothesis, not proven, is based on the fact that instruments made at the same time by Andrea Guarneri are approaching the quality of the Stradivarius: the very cold climate of the late seventeenth century would have created less dense wood by slowing the growth of trees.
The Lady Blunt has all the qualities required to excite violinists and experts. Luckily, this specimen is very close to its original state. It was manufactured in 1721, in the best time of Stradivari. It belonged to Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume, the French violin maker of the nineteenth century who made commendable efforts to understand and achieve the quality of the Stradivarius.
In 2008, this wonderful violin was purchased by Nippon Music in a private transaction whose amount exceeded $ 10M. This Tokyo foundation has decided to sell it to benefit the victims of the earthquake and tsunami. The auction, which will be held on June 20 in London, is entrusted to Tarisio which is a leader in this market.
The Lady Blunt is illustrated in the article shared by the Wall Street Journal.
POST SALE COMMENT
Here is the auction result of a Stradivarius violin in exceptional condition : £ 8.75M before fees.
The advertised price of the private transaction of 2008 is exceeded.
Congratulations to Tarisio for this great sale.
I invite you to play the post sale video shared on YouTube by Tarisio. It is also shared on Wikimedia.
1745 Legacy from the Second Tree
2016 SOLD for HK$ 56M including premium
Hongli has become the Qianlong emperor. The second wutong tree passes in its turn during the ninth year of the new reign. Qianlong orders by imperial decree that the wood of the old tree is used to make four qin.
The qin was honored under the Tang and the Song as the first in the list of the four treasures of the scholar. This luxurious zither with seven plucked strings offered the ultimate Chinese music. During the Qing dynasty, the qin is a scarce instrument that revives the past.
The realization of the four Qianlong qin is documented in considerable detail in the imperial books. Each of them is marked with another imperial poem. They are delivered to the Emperor on the 20th day of the 10th month of the 11th year of the reign, during the year 1745 of our calendar. One of the four qin survived. It is estimated HK $ 25M for sale by Sotheby's in Hong Kong on October 5, lot 3605.
This tall instrument 1 m in overall length with cinnabar lacquered outer walls was conceived for prestige. It was sparingly played and remains in great condition.
1783 A Real Guadagnini for Rostropovich
2018 SOLD for £ 1.93M including premium
Arrived in 1771 in Turin which will be his fourth and last residence, Guadagnini agrees from 1773 to 1777 to work exclusively for Cozio who was a great admirer of Stradivari. At this time Guadagnini adds the information "Cremonensis alumnus Antonii Stradivari" on his labels. His cellos of this period are short, without loss of sound thanks to a modification of the shape which increases the surface of wood in the cavity.
Mstislav Rostropovich was one of the greatest performers of the cello. For his first success, the gold medal at the Soviet Young Musicians Competition in 1945, he had played a Guadagnini.
In exile from 1974, Rostropovich had appraised the cello of his first glory and learned that its label was apocryphal and that the instrument had nothing to do with a Guadagnini. He is therefore on the watch to acquire an excellent Guadagnini. He will wait a quarter of a century.
The Guadagnini cello bought by Rostropovitch in 2000 is from the best period : made in Turin in 1783 three years before the death of the luthier, it is one of the last instruments of the master and has kept intact its dark intense red-brown varnish typical of that period. It is estimated £ 1M for sale by Sotheby's in London on November 28, lot 42.
Take an unprecedented glimpse into the lives and loves of two of Russia’s greatest musical legends. Visit our London galleries to view the private collection of #Rostropovich and Vishnevskaya or click ahead to see highlights https://t.co/tDnS2NOICK #SothebysRussia pic.twitter.com/ymPge0oA5s— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) November 23, 2018
(1927)-1942 The Moroccan Piano of Casablanca
2014 SOLD for $ 3.4M including premium
The instrument was made in 1927 and stored by the First National Pictures (FNP) of which it bears an inventory mark. When it was chosen for the film, it was painted with orientalist patterns.
This instrument has a unique feature related to the requirements of the film: the lid is detached from the case in order to enable the gesture of the actor who hides inside it some coveted papers.
This piano with its original stool is lot 83 in the sale of souvenirs of the American cinema organized on November 24 by Bonhams in New York with the participation of Turner Classic Movies.
There is another Casablanca piano, screen used in a flashback scene located in Paris. This instrument of the "Belle Aurore" was sold for $ 600K including premium by Sotheby's on December 14, 2012.
1969-1970 The Sound of the Pink Floyd
2019 SOLD for $ 4M including premium
At the end of the 1960s, psychedelic music is taking over from classic rock and roll. To reach the fame, bands must now offer to the public sounds that are both dynamic and different. David becomes the guitarist of the Pink Floyd in 1968 to compensate for the incapacity of Syd Barrett victim of mental disorders.
Lot 127 is David Gilmour's Black Strat. Made in 1969, it was bought new by David in 1970 at Manny's in New York. Until 1983 it is his favorite instrument, constantly modified by him to extract new sensational sounds. This instrument is a basic element of the Pink Floyd sound lab at their best time. It is played by David in 1973 in the album that will remain the biggest hit of the group, The Dark Side of the Moon.
This working guitar that was originally an ordinary Strat has become a cult instrument of rock in its post-Beatles phase. Leased for ten years at the Hard Rock Café in Dallas, it was later restored. Replicas were created by Fender from 2006 in two models, one of which named The Relic copying its state of wear before restoration.
In 2005, when the band's historic members meet in concert in London after a very long break, David Gilmour plays his Black Strat again. Frequently modified for half a century by its prestigious owner, it is offered with a reasonable estimate of $ 100K to 150K. Please read the article by Christie's telling its long story.
(1959) - 1993 The Acoustic Grunge
2020 SOLD for $ 6M including premium
This trend ensures the fame for the group Nirvana, created in 1987, and its leader, singer, guitarist and co-founder Kurt Cobain. The grunge is often named the Seattle music.
In 1989 the musical television channel MTV created Unplugged, a series of programs in which groups were invited to reinterpret their best songs while leaving all electronic equipment except microphones.
Nirvana accepts MTV's invitation for a recording to be made on November 18, 1993. They need this program for boosting the sales of their album In Utero, which had not the expected success. Kurt Cobain is excessively nervous during the preparation phase, probably feeling a risk of recuperation of his art by the establishment. He imposes his solutions on the MTV team, including a morbid setting.
For the show, Nirvana plays fourteen songs in one take. In accordance with his commitment, Cobain uses an acoustic guitar. He chose a Martin D18-E from 1959. This instrument is one of the stars of the show : in the last sequence, Cobain places it reverently on its stand and leaves the stage.
Kurt was an irreducible perfectionist. He could not bring himself to offer an exclusively acoustic sound in this program. A hidden pickup was used in the Martin for at least one of the songs.
The record titled MTV Unplugged in New York released a year later is one of Nirvana's greatest hits, posthumously for Cobain. The Martin is estimated $ 1M in the sale organized by Julien's in Beverly Hills on June 19 and 20, lot 742. The olive green cardigan worn by the blond singer in this show was sold for $ 334K including premium on October 25, 2019 by the same auction house.