Detail of an extremely rare doucai  and famille rose ‘anbaxian’ vase, tianqiuping. Qianlong six-character seal mark in underglaze blue and of the period (1736-1795). 21¼ in (54

First look: Hong Kong Spring season highlights

Christie’s specialists showcase their favourite pieces from the Hong Kong Spring Auctions, 25-30 May 2018

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  • Qianlong doucai tianqiuping vase Estimate: HK$70,000,000-90,000,000

This magnificent imperial doucai  vase is a striking example of Qing porcelain. It is known as the tianqiuping 天球瓶 or ‘celestial sphere vase’ due to its elegant form and impressive size. ‘The shape and size of the doucai tianqiuping  make it one of the hardest forms to master,’ says Liang-Lin Chen, Head of Sale, Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art at Christie’s Asia. ‘It is also one of the most visually powerful pieces I have ever seen, a true testimony to the Qianlong zeitgeist.’

An extremely rare doucai and famille rose ‘anbaxian’ vase, tianqiuping. Qianlong six-character seal mark in underglaze blue and of the period (1736-1795). 21¼ in (54 cm) high. Estimate HK$70,000,000–90,000,000. This work is offered in Celestial Immortals — The Taber Family Tianqiuping from Philbrook Museum of Art on 30 May 2018 at Christie’s in Hong Kong

An extremely rare doucai and famille rose ‘anbaxian’ vase, tianqiuping. Qianlong six-character seal mark in underglaze blue and of the period (1736-1795). 21¼ in (54 cm) high. Estimate: HK$70,000,000–90,000,000. This work is offered in Celestial Immortals — The Taber Family Tianqiuping from Philbrook Museum of Art on 30 May 2018 at Christie’s in Hong Kong

Palace records reveal that this extremely rare tianqiuping  was commissioned by the Emperor Qianlong himself in 1738, the third year of his reign. The vase, which has never been seen on the market, was bought by George Hathaway Taber prior to 1925; in 1960, his daughter Mrs. Francis Keally (née Mildred Taber) donated the vase to Philbrook Museum of Art in Oklahoma, which has now brought it to auction in order to benefit the acquisitions endowment.

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  • Blue and white moonflask Estimate: HK$60,000,000-80,000,000

This magnificent blue and white moonflask — one of the largest examples in existence — is no mere objet d’art. ‘The painting on the moonflask depicts tilling, one of the most important activities in agrarian China,’ explains Liang-Lin Chen.

A magnificent blue and white moonflask. Qianlong six-character seal mark in underglaze blue and of the period (1736-1795). 23¼ in (59 cm.) high. Estimate HK$60,000,000–80,000,000. This work is offered in The Three Qianlong Rarities on 30 May 2018 at Christie’s in Hong Kong

A magnificent blue and white moonflask. Qianlong six-character seal mark in underglaze blue and of the period (1736-1795). 23¼ in (59 cm.) high. Estimate: HK$60,000,000–80,000,000. This work is offered in The Three Qianlong Rarities on 30 May 2018 at Christie’s in Hong Kong

The choice of subject matter and the date it was made tell us that the Manchu people who conquered China at this time used objects such as these to dispel their reputation as barbarians, positioning themselves instead as legitimate rulers of the country who would take great interest in the welfare of the people. ‘In this way,’ explains Chen, ‘it elevates the status of the moonflask to a symbol of imperial rule.’

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  • Yayoi Kusama’s No. F.C.H. Estimate: HK$16,000,000-26,000,000

‘The uniqueness of this Yayoi Kusama painting lies in the colour combination used,’ explains Marcello Kwan, Vice President of Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art at Christie’s Asia. ‘We normally see combinations of red and black or red and white, but the red and blue here is extremely beautiful.’

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929), No. F.C.H., 1960. Oil on canvas. 76.2 x 66 cm (30 x 23⅝ in). Estimate HK$16,000,000–26,000,000. This work is offered in Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 26 May 2018 at Christie’s in Hong Kong

Yayoi Kusama (b. 1929), No. F.C.H., 1960. Oil on canvas. 76.2 x 66 cm (30 x 23⅝ in). Estimate: HK$16,000,000–26,000,000. This work is offered in Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 26 May 2018 at Christie’s in Hong Kong

Begun in in the mid-1950s when the artist first arrived in New York, Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Infinity Net’ paintings have become a central theme throughout her long-running career. Speaking about the series, Kusama has said that the ‘nets’ reflect the visual hallucinations that have plagued her since childhood.

No. F. C. H.  was painted in 1960 and is an extremely important piece from that period. It was shown in the celebrated exhibition Love Forever: Yayoi Kusama, 1958–1968, which toured three museums across the United States, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Walker Art Center.

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  • Zao Wou-Ki’s Neige Danse Estimate: HK$20,000,000-25,000,000

This work is an absolute masterpiece from the pivotal year when Zao Wou-Ki truly becomes Zao Wou-Ki. With Neige Danse,  the artist draws on the forces of nature to find his abstract style.

Zao Wou-Ki (1920-2013), Neige Danse (Swirling Snow), 1955. Oil on canvas. 73 x 60 cm (28¾ x 23⅝ in). Estimate HK$20,000,000-25,000,000. This work is offered in the Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 26 May 2018 at Christie’s in Hong Kong

Zao Wou-Ki (1920-2013), Neige Danse (Swirling Snow), 1955. Oil on canvas. 73 x 60 cm (28¾ x 23⅝ in). Estimate: HK$20,000,000-25,000,000. This work is offered in the Asian 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 26 May 2018 at Christie’s in Hong Kong

Although the dominant colours are black and white, the background is modulated with hues of blue, pink and green which gives the composition a depth and an impression of swirling snow. The painting, which has never been offered at auction before, is both quiet and powerful.

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  • Zhang Daqian’s Viewing the Waterfall Estimate: HK$60,000,000-80,000,000

Known for his peripatetic lifestyle, Zhang Daqian moved to São Paulo, Brazil, in 1963. There he began to experiment with ‘splashed colour’ painting, inspired by Western abstract art, which allowed his work to be both spontaneous and detailed.

Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), Viewing the Waterfall. Scroll, mounted and framed, ink and colour on paper. 134 x 68 cm (52¾ x 26¾ in). Estimate HK$60,000,000-80,000,000. This work is offered in Fine Chinese Modern Paintings on 29 May 2018 at Christie’s in Hong Kong

Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), Viewing the Waterfall. Scroll, mounted and framed, ink and colour on paper. 134 x 68 cm (52¾ x 26¾ in). Estimate: HK$60,000,000-80,000,000. This work is offered in Fine Chinese Modern Paintings on 29 May 2018 at Christie’s in Hong Kong

Viewing the Waterfall, which hung in the artist’s California studio, is a prime example of Zhang’s early splashed colour work,’ confirms Ben Kong, International Specialist Head of Chinese Paintings for Christie's Asia. ‘The vividness of the azurite blue is a wonder to behold; it is dark but luminous and showcases his mastery of colour.’

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  • Fu Baoshi’s Asking the Child Under Pinetree Estimate: HK$35,000,000-45,000,000

Fu Baoshi revolutionised figure painting by depicting scenes from classical Chinese literature and myths. He became known for the delicate and controlled broken brushstrokes showcased in this painting, which was inspired by a well-known Tang dynasty poem by Jia Dao about a man searching for a recluse in the mountains.

Fu Baoshi (1904-1965), Asking the Child under Pinetree, 1943. Unmounted scroll, framed, ink and colour on paper. 108.5 x 31cm (42¾ x 12¼ in). Estimate HK$35,000,000-45,000,000. This work is offered in Fine Chinese Modern Paintings on 29 May 2018 at Christies in Hong Kong

Fu Baoshi (1904-1965), Asking the Child under Pinetree, 1943. Unmounted scroll, framed, ink and colour on paper. 108.5 x 31cm (42¾ x 12¼ in). Estimate: HK$35,000,000-45,000,000. This work is offered in Fine Chinese Modern Paintings on 29 May 2018 at Christie's in Hong Kong

‘This painting was dedicated to Fu Baoshi’s fellow artist and colleague Huang Junbi, and in that respect, it is very special,’ says Kong.