Cotton and Pashmina
2013 SOLD 4.8 M£ including premium
Measuring 388 x 411 cm, it has a classic repetitive decor of millefleurs, with a star lattice. The drawing of the edge is a later design. It was woven about 300 years ago, but its appeal is largely due to the fact that it is not oldest, once will not hurt!
Indeed, the great ancient Mughal carpets were in silk and are significantly degraded. The Vanderbilt specimen is in cotton, in ivory color for the warp and blue for the weft. The upper layer or pile with the decorative pattern is in pashmina which is a wool from Kashmir.
It is estimated £ 1.5 million, for sale by Christie's in London on October 8.
POST SALE COMMENT
This exceptional carpet from North India greatly exceeded its estimate. It was sold for £ 4.8M including premium.
The image of this magnificent piece of textile in very good condition is shared on Wikimedia:
1700-1710 Silver punch bowl by Cornelius Kierstede
2010 SOLD for $ 5.9M including premium by Sotheby's
> 1711 The Workshop of the Jesuits
2018 SOLD for HK$ 240M including premium
The activity is developed in a workshop of the Forbidden City under the direct control of the emperor. A new glassmaker arrived in 1695 brings with him the enamels invented by Glauber to create splendid colors with colloidal gold. The glass pieces colored with the enamel of the foreigners (in Chinese: falangcai) serve as diplomatic gifts.
The potters of Jingdezhen were working with the limited color range of the wucai for a purpose of productivity. It was tempting to apply the new colors to the porcelain for bringing more luxury to the pieces for the personal use (yuzhi) of the emperor. Chinese craftsmen joined the Jesuits of the imperial workshop around 1711 to develop a mixed technology.
Chinese porcelain was unknown in Europe and the Jesuits considered it impossible to affix the enamel over the glaze. They were supplied from Jingdezhen with incompletely glazed pieces to paint the outside wall and the base with the colors unavailable at Jingdezhen. A second heating completed the process.
One of the rarest ground colors of the falangcai is a pink with colloidal gold. Two 14.7 cm diameter bowls, each one decorated with four lobed cartridges showing flowers in front of a blue sky, were probably made side by side. They carry the yuzhi mark of Kangxi. The floral themes are however different, attesting to a close cooperation between Chinese and European artists. The bowl kept at the National Palace Museum in Taipei follows the traditional Chinese auspices of the four seasons.
The other bowl is of European decoration, displaying flowers without symbolic meaning and a perspective effect that is not usual in traditional Chinese art. It will be sold by Sotheby's on April 3 in Hong Kong, lot 1. Please watch the short video shared by the auction house.
The yangcai will be the complete mastery of the falangcai process at Jingdezhen around the sixth year of the Yongzheng emperor, 1729 CE. The participation of foreigners will no longer be necessary.
1711-1722 An Early Falangcai Bowl
2013 SOLD 74 MHK$ including premium
Fortunately, Kangxi responded.
His social contribution is extraordinary. He replaced at Jingdezhen the forced labor by a network of independent craftsmen controlled by a superintendent. The competition between the artists will be the true reason for the incredible diversity of porcelain under his reign and those of his successors Yongzheng and Qianlong.
Western influences, including Islamic, were already recurrent in Chinese art. To strengthen his authority, Kangxi sought new alliances, including in terms of technology, up to Europe. The falangcai, meaning "foreign colors", is one of the innovations of his reign.
Based on the wucai well known during the Ming Dynasty, falangcai is a technique of double firing. The cloisonné enamel of various colors is painted over the first glaze in the imperial workshops in Beijing before the piece is fired a second time. Under Kangxi, the brilliant colors of enamels reached a previously unknown quality.
On April 8 in Hong Kong, Sotheby's sells a very early falangcai bowl 11 cm in diameter bearing the Kangxi imperial mark. A suite of brightly colored lotus runs over a ruby background. No other piece is known with this particular decoration.
This bowl is the subject of a separate catalog, and is expected beyond HK $ 70M. Here is the link to the page overviewing the sale.
POST SALE COMMENT
This rare bowl had been announced as an exceptional piece. This is confirmed by the result: HK $ 74M including premium.
The catalog indicates that this technique that combines the talents of Jingdezhen potters and Beijing painters has not been established before 1711 in our calendar. This porcelain piece has been made between that date and 1722, the year of the death of the Kangxi emperor.
1713 An Imperial Team of Craftsmen
2015 SOLD for HK$ 28.7M including premium
Its size, technique, themes and period meet the description of the screen that went unsold in the same auction room on June 1, 2011. In both cases the closer pieces taken as references for that highly rare style are the pair of screens presented to the Kangxi emperor for his 60th birthday.
Here is my 2011 pre-sale discussion that fairly applies also to the the screen of the next sale. I am pretty convinced that it is the same piece.
Furniture, calligraphy, graphic arts: the Qing emperors had a refined approach to luxury and art and were delighted by a gathering of all of them within a unique piece.
This screen is indeed an amazing compendium of techniques for which the most skilled craftsmen have been invited to contribute, each one in his area of know how, achieving together a really collective artwork.
It is a suite of ten hardwood panels 2.90 m high and 61 cm wide, richly polychromed on both sides with a wide variety of imperial themes such as dragons in the clouds, many flowers, bats.
The techniques used therein are painting on paper and on silk, lacquer, gilding, bamboo veneer and kesi. This screen includes no less than nine colors of kesi, this traditional silk embroidery that is prepared in individual colors before sewing the elements.
The reverse of both panels at the ends of the screens includes sixty different characters, all of them signifying longevity. Christie's compares this lot with a pair of screens which were made for the 60th birthday of the Kangxi emperor, 1713 AD in our calendar.
I was excited to appreciate from the catalog that the eyebrows of the dragons and their short hair are typical of that period when the expression of these fabulous creatures was the subject of a specific care.
1714 A Tie Pin
2018 SOLD for CHF 6.7M including premium
This pin was created to use a pear-shaped blue diamond that is easily detachable from it. It weighs 6.16 carats, its hue is fancy dark grey-blue in SI1 clarity.
The plaque indicates the origin and provenance of the diamond. It was given by the Philippine Islands to Elisabeth Farnese, Queen of Spain, wife of Philip V of whom the author of the inscription was a great-grandson, the Comte de Villafranca.
This colonial provenance appears to be certainly a wedding present. In 1714 Elisabeth from the reigning family of Parma marries the newly widowed king. Gifts are needed and the colonies are solicited. The American cargo is lost in the Atlantic in August 1715 with fabulous emeralds.
At that date Golconda is still the only source for diamonds. The Farnese Blue has in common with the Wittelsbacher Blue that it does not fall into the most usual categories such as fancy vivid, fancy intense or fancy dark blue.
Comte de Villafranca is the title used by Duke Charles II of Parma after his abdication. He seems to be the first of his line to be interested in this diamond and it is certainly he who had created the pin.
His grandson Robert integrated the Farnese Blue within a diadem composed of diamonds coming according to family tradition from the French queen Marie-Antoinette. This use in the diadem is confirmed later in an inventory of the jewelry owned by his daughter-in-law the archduchess Maria Anna of Austria. It was later reunited with the pin.
Please watch the video shared by Sotheby's :
Golconda... Uncover the unique magic of diamonds discovered in this fabled region of India, once the only place in the world where the stones were found. This month in #Geneva, another historic gem joins this rarefied group: The Farnese Blue https://t.co/1smQ3Pviuj pic.twitter.com/jSk2CQuJSL— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) May 3, 2018
1718 Perspective in Venice
2011 SOLD 4 M$ including premium
At the time of Vermeer, Dutch artists had the fertile idea to paint realistic views of the cities. When later the British for their pleasure will tour Italy, they meet with local artists who specialize in such luxurious memories.
So it is no coincidence that the pioneer of this new art in Italy was a Dutchman, Gaspar van Wittel who Italianized hisname as Vanvitelli and worked in Rome and Naples.
In Venice, the first master of the vedute was an Italian who, unlike his colleague, used a Dutch-sounding name: Luca Carlevarijs.
Carlevarijs favorite topic was the Molo, this very prestigious wharf access to the Venetian splendor. The monumental group is a textbook case for the practice of perspective, used with utmost care for accentuating the realism.
A view of the Molo looking west, with the side of the Doge's Palace and the Church of the Salute in the distance, is for sale by Christie's in New York on January 26. The animation is both intense (although a little stereotypical) and distant, making it particularly pleasant.
This large oil on canvas, 102 x 175 cm, sold in 1718 to an English traveler, is estimated $ 3.5 M.
POST SALE COMMENT
It was bold to try to sell a painting by Carlevarijs for the price of a good Canaletto, but this work had the required qualities and the sale is successful: $ 4M including premium.
This view of Venice is shown in the article shared by WorthPoint before the sale.
1718-1719 Christie's discovered a Watteau, what a Surprise!
2008 SOLD 12.3 M£ including premium
A little more than one month ago, Christie's had announced in a press release the reappearance of a painting of Watteau presumedly destroyed for two centuries. The press had seized this information, rightly. Let us not forget it, but it is necessary to wait two more months for the sale, which will be done in London on July 8.
Entitled "la Surprise", this painting was known through a copy, and the owner was unaware of being in possession of an original. If as it is probable Christie's manages to sell it, the pockets of this happy British countryman will then have filled from at least 3 M£.
Of small size, it is an outdoor scene, elegant and dynamic, with feverish movement, with images typified according to the so specific technique of Watteau: the player of guitar, the couple of lovers, the puppy.
A masterpiece? Yes. One of the great biddings of the year? Probably not. The painting, whose exact dimensions are not revealed in the official statement, appears to be not larger than a paper sheet.
POST SALE COMMENT
The price obtained is also a surprise: £ 12.3 million charge included.
This painting had been announced well in advance by Christie's as one of the highlights of the season. It had the advantage of never being viewed before on the market and disadvantage of being small: 36x28 cm.
The market has thus confirmed the view of Christie's that this painting is a masterpiece of Watteau, and that Watteau is a major painter in the history of art. There is no doubt that we will not soon see a similar one reappear in a sale. A masterpiece that can be considered as single on the market has no price, but I think nobody could reasonably predict that it would be so high.
Kangxi - Wanderings of a Chinese in France
2008 SOLD 5.6 M€ including premium
La Gazette confirms the estimate but the AFP believes that this piece could exceed 1 million €. The AFP indicates as a reference that "In 2006, a seal of the Qianlong period, 4.7 cm high, was purchased 885,040 euros.." This piece was not in jade but in nephrite. Estimated 30 K €, it was sold at 740 K € hammer price at Dijon by de Vrégille and Bizoüard on October 20, 2006.
Let us come back to the release of the AFP for the seal of Toulouse. The auctioneer marvels at the fact that the owner did not know the quality and value of this lot, and there is a gap of ownership traceability since 1946.
As it is described, it has a great advantage: it is coming with its lacquered box.
POST SALE COMMENT
Excellent news: the quality of the object has prevailed over its doubtful wanderings.
The seal was sold for 4.7 million € hammer price (5.6 M € fees included).
Kangxi - Blessing by the Son of Heaven
2016 SOLD for HK$ 93M including premium
Seals were used to improve the documents with the deep thinking of the emperor himself, so constituting a method to express and spread the imperial mottos. The most important of their marks was the blessing thought Jingtian Qinmin : revere heaven and serve thy people. The emperor is not a despot. If he forgets his duty, he must be overthrown. Kangxi reigned during 61 years, from 1661 to 1722 of our calendar.
Kangxi used a single Jingtian Qinmin seal, maybe late in his life since no document from his reign has been identified with this mark. This is a large piece of sandalwood (tanxiangmu), 10 cm square surmounted by the sculpture of a mythical beast to a total height of 11 cm. This unique piece is for sale by Sotheby's in Hong Kong on April 6, lot 3101.
The extreme importance of Kangxi's Jingtian Qinmin was demonstrated posthumously. A replica with the same inscription is made in jade in the very first year of the reign of Yongzheng with an entirely different finial. When many years later Qianlong established the Kangxi Baosou displaying all the marks used by his grandfather, it appeared in the first position.
The Joseon Dragon
2011 SOLD 3.9 M$ including premium
It is a baluster pot 58 cm high and 44 cm in diameter made in kaolin porcelain. Such a dimension with a perfect geometry is a technical achievement. It is decorated in underglaze cobalt blue, as many of the best ceramics of Southeast Asia.
Two dragons (one on each side) hover among the clouds. Open mouth, the back emitting flames, they are pretty nice and as friendly as the jovial dinosaurs that are offered to today's children.
Each leg ends with five toes with sharp claws. It is a royal sign. The dragons of popular imagery had only three or four fingers. The number 5 symbolizes the elements of the Korean cosmography, water, wood, fire, metal and earth, whose interactions have made this pottery. It is probably no coincidence that this is also the number of fingers of the human hand.
An almost identical jar is one of the masterpieces of the Asian art collection of the Museum of Ceramics in Sèvres.
The sale takes place on March 23 in New York.
POST SALE COMMENT
Great result for this Korean imperial jar for which the estimate had not been published. It was sold for $ 3.9 million including premium.