1684 Album by Bada Shanren
2016 SOLD for HK$ 77M by China Guardian
Time is passing. Zhu can finally leave the monastic habit and devote himself to painting and calligraphy. In 1684 CE, at the age of 59, he takes as his artist name Bada Shanren, which translates as 'the man of the eight great mountains'. It doesn't mean anything, but these characters evoke with a stylized writing the words 'laugh' and 'cry'.
The art of this irreducible rebel is unprecedented in its themes and style. He draws nature in small insignificant details. His brush stroke systematically includes contrasts of ink and sometimes even blur. His remarkable freedom of execution will influence the modern Chinese art.
An album of ten leaves 24 x 38 cm made in 1684 was sold for HK $ 77M by China Guardian on May 13, 2016, lot 500.
Nine of them are equally separated for calligraphy and image, the tenth is a whole calligraphy. The similarity of composition for different subjects, for example the bird and the fish, shows the importance given by the artist to elementary forms in that phase of his restarting.
An album of twelve leaves 29 x 20 cm made in 1703 bringing together flowers, birds, fish and fruit was sold for $ 3.13M including premium by Sotheby's on March 16, 2017, lot 844.
1687 Principia by Newton
2016 SOLD for $ 3.7M by Christie's
One of his outstanding skills was to develop mathematical methods of high complexity to analyze and support his own physical theories. Even before he was 30, he compared the motion of the planets and the fall of the bodies. Essentially preoccupied with his own understanding of the mechanism of the universe, he published reluctantly.
In 1684 in London, the scientists of the Royal Society challenged themselves to find the mathematical formulation of the law of motion of the planets described by Kepler. All failed. Halley visits Newton in Cambridge. He is stunned : Newton knows the solution but has lost his calculation notes. The orbital movement of a celestial body is an ellipse whose position of the other body is one of the foci.
The scientific stake is highly important and Halley manages to persuade Newton to disclose in their entirety his results concerning the law of universal gravitation. Edited and financed by Halley, Newton's Latin book entitled Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica is published in 1687 with the imprimatur of the Royal Society.
The book is difficult in the opinion of the author himself and the circulation probably did not exceed 300 copies but it is of such scientific importance that Halley and Newton took care of organizing their sale through booksellers. One of them named Samuel Smith is more specifically entrusted to the supply onto the Continent and receives about 50 copies for that purpose.
On December 14, 2016, Christie's sold one of the Smith 'Continental' presentation copies of the Principia for $ 3.7M from a lower estimate of $ 1M, lot 167. It is bound in its original unrestored morocco with gold and red inlays. The recipient is not identified.
A Royal copy of the Principia in its original morocco luxury binding was sold for $ 2.5M by Christie's on December 6, 2013, lot 170. It had been presented by Halley to King James II, patron of the Royal Society. The Royal bindings from that reign are extremely rare.
1688 André Charles Boulle, the Pioneer of Prestige
2009 SOLD 2.6 M£ including premium
In the 1680s, his creativity is immense. He brings the elegance into the apartments of the princes. The royal orders came later.
His furniture is perfect, by their form, decoration and material. Until the sale at Christie's in London on July 9, three of them were gathered in Wrotham Park, a residence of the English aristocracy, where they had arrived nearly two centuries ago.
We must not be surprised by the diversity of forms of Boulle furniture. The models for this great experimenter were mostly from his own inspiration, and his most brilliant creations were imitated to generate the French style. Our three pieces are cabinets high placed on carved stands : a pair of sarcophagus-shaped coffers made to 1688 and a cabinet with drawers which is even older, circa 1680.
The decor here includes all that is best in the inlaid Boulle marquetry, with its famous inclusions of brass, pewter and tortoiseshell.
The coffers are sold as a pair on a low estimate of £ 2.5 million. The cabinet, perhaps less easy to sell because of its more extensive changes in the late eighteenth century, is estimated 700 K £.
POST SALE COMMENT
£ 2.6 million including premium for the pair of coffers. It is a great auction result for furniture, although the low estimate has not been reached. The press release states that this lot was purchased by the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam.
The cabinet does not follow them: it was not sold. I had explained why it would be more difficult to sell. This confirms that the detailed reading of the catalog is essential to judge the importance of furniture.
1690 The Learned Leisure of the Kangxi Emperor
2016 SOLD for HK$ 49M including premium
Kangxi had about 130 seals for identifying his consultation of documents or expressing his opinion. The soapstone, easy to carve and in nice shade, was used extensively during his reign thanks to a new abundance of this mineral. His successors will prefer the jade.
On April 6 in Hong Kong, Sotheby's sells as lot 3102 a Kangxi seal in soapstone.
The mark 5.9 x 5.9 cm is clear, symbolic and effective. The central inscription indicates Yuanjianzhai as the location of its use. This inscription is flanked left and right with the undulating silhouettes of the tiger and the dragon and terminated at both ends by the symbols of heaven and earth, yin and yang, between which the emperor himself is the only intercessor.
This seal may have been shown in 1690 to the missionary Jean-François Gerbillon. Invited in the Yangxingdian to inspect the imperial seals, he observed that a possibility of textual and graphical duality was practiced in very few marks.
The Yuanjianzhai seal is topped in a lighter hue of the soapstone with a mythical beast that is altogether powerful and caring, for an overall height of 6.9 cm from that piece.
1691-97 Kangxi Southern Tour
The Kangxi Emperor had a high opinion of his duties and responsibilities and his personal commitment was intense. The Qing Dynasty was still recent and it was challenged in the border provinces. The six inspection tours conducted by the emperor in the south between the 24th and the 47th year of his reign are intended for the assimilation of these reluctant regions.
Kangxi is not afraid to go to war but prefers peace. His tours are opportunities to link with the Four Occupations in their local particularities : gentry, peasants, craftsmen and merchants. The loyalty to the Emperor requires to understand and to be understood. Kangxi is a great statesman, lucid, responsible and effective.
The second trip took place during the 29th year of the reign, 1689 CE. It was fruitful and promising and they must preserve its memory. An imperial decree orders the execution of a scroll divided into twelve parts showing in a continuity the steps of the long journey.
Two years later, in order to mark the prestige of this operation, Kangxi required the imperial palace workshops to display this journey through a series of handscrolls. The management of the project is entrusted to the best landscape painter of that time, Wang Hui.
I do not know where Wang was during the 1689 Imperial inspection. It does not matter. A connoisseur of the Song and Yuan landscape art, he worked by copy and imagination, including in his work picturesque scenes with numerous figures caught in everyday life.
The landscape is depicted with realism all along the way in a graphic style inspired from the Yuan maps, enough detailed to be used for guiding a trip along thousands of kilometers.
For seven years from the 31st year of Kangxi, the team of artists applies strictly on a silk strip 68 cm high the detailed instructions of Master Wang concerning the topographic features, the more or less close distance to villages and mountains, the actions of the emperor and the daily life of the people. The style is magnificent.
The overall length of the twelve scrolls, completed around the 37th year of the reign, is 200 meters. Nine scrolls are complete and kept in various museums. The scroll number 6 was plundered by the French during the Boxer War and divided in or near Bordeaux, possibly in a deceased estate in the 1930s. The whereabouts of the scrolls 5 and 8 are not known.
2016 SOLD for $ 9.5M by Sotheby"s
In a bird's-eye view demonstrating a remarkable control of the topographic representation, boats travel around the many islands of a river. It depicts dense poulations in their daily life and may be the terminal end of the still incomplete sixth scroll.
The tweet below shows a detail. Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's.
2010 SOLD for HK 36.5M by Sotheby's
It is depicting the visit of the Kangxi emperor to the towering Jiangtian Si temple on Mount Jinshan in the middle of the Yangtze River. It features on the far left the emperor himself, standing on a terrace under a yellow canopy and escorted by many officials dotting the island,
2013 SOLD for € 3.36M by Briscadieu
Two other fragments of the same scroll, 2.58 m and 3.28 m, were listed separately on March 8, 2014 by Briscadieu. One of them was sold for € 1.17M. The other fragment was sold for € 600K before fees.
1693 A Little Clock for Queen Mary
2019 SOLD for £ 1.93M including premium
Aware of the quality of his production, Tompion numbered his instruments, an exceptional practice in his time for a manufactured product. He mixes in a single serialization list the table clocks and the long case clocks. His clocks have a long autonomy. His grande sonnerie pieces offer a repetition of quarters over a long duration.
From 1692 or 1693 Tompion improves the elegance of his design with his Phase Two which includes the cushion dome, the thistle bud handle, the bellflower keyhole and the operation of the mechanism from the front face.
The master seems more interested in standardization than in miniaturization. Nevertheless Number 215 appears as the first of a small series of Phase Two table clocks with a total height of 28 cm including the raised handle. It was sold for £ 170K including premium by Bonhams on December 13, 2011.
Number 222, made especially for Queen Mary II in 1693 and known as the Q Clock, is the smallest clock ever made by Tompion with an ebony case. It is 20 cm high overall with the handle raised. It offers the quarter repetition and an autonomy of eight days.
Re-assembled in 1949 by a collector with its original movement, the Q Clock was sold for £ 440K including premium by Christie's on June 30, 1993. It will be sold by Bonhams in London on June 19, lot 103. The May 20 press release is announcing for this silver mounted royal clock an estimate in excess of £ 2M. A modern replica is joined to the lot.
Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
We are delighted to announce that one of the most valuable clocks ever to appear at auction, The King William & Queen Mary Royal Tompion, will star in The Clive Collection of Exceptional Clocks in London on 19 June.https://t.co/6ufWtyi4Ax pic.twitter.com/ROoThd69zu— Bonhams (@bonhams1793) May 20, 2019
1695 A Butterfly in the Still Life of Adriaen Coorte
2014 SOLD for £ 3.45M including premium
The still lifes by Coorte have neither predecessor nor successor. Most of them show an arrangement of fruit or asparagus on the corner of a stone ledge. From the mid 1690s, his very unusual practice of oil on paper glued on canvas or panel reinforces the assumption that the author is not a professional artist.
The butterfly appears in the same period. In flight, its wings fully open or closed do not bring realism in the composition, following the lush positioning of small animals in the art of van Kessel.
In contrast to the exuberance of van Kessel, Coorte is a minimalist. The careful texture of the fruit with stems and leaves is the unique theme of the composition, but he likes the vertical formats and the butterfly comes to cleverly break the monotony of the upper part of the picture.
Such a decorative research based on a humble iconography anticipates Chardin's researches while no link can be imagined between the Middelburg amateur and the French artist of the following century.
A paper on panel 31 x 23 cm, undated but realized around 1695, showing three peaches and a butterfly, was sold for £ 2.05M including premium by Bonhams on 7 December 2011. This painting is now estimated £ 2M, for sale by Sotheby's in London on December 3, lot 37. The image is shared by Wikimedia:
1697 Molitor Stradivarius violin
2010 SOLD for $ 3.6M by Tarisio
1698 Album by Bada Shanren
2020 SOLD for RMB 71M by China Guardian
An album of ten leaves 24 x 38 cm made in 1684 was sold for HK $ 77M by China Guardian on May 13, 2016, lot 500.
An album of seventeen leaves 30 x 22 cm made in 1698 bringing together flowers, birds and landscapes was sold for HK $ 34M by Christie's on December 2, 2008, lot 1938, and for RMB 71M by China Guardian on December 1, 2020, lot 290 illustrated in third position in the post sale press release.
An album of twelve leaves 29 x 20 cm made in 1703 bringing together flowers, birds, fish and fruit was sold for $ 3.13M by Sotheby's on March 16, 2017, lot 844.