The strength of international demand for Asian Art was clearly signaled in the March 2011 American auctions which realised $117million; the highest total for Asian Art Week at Christie’s New York, which exceeded the previous record total by almost $40 million and re-confirmed Christie’s continued position as market leader for the category. This spring, Christie’s London Asian Art Week will run from 10 - 13 May 2011, featuring further remarkable works for the categories which exemplify rarity, beauty and excellent provenance, with many highlights offered from important private collections such as The Martin Månsson Collection, Part II of the Kendall Collection and Prints from The Illing Collection. The sales include: Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art on 10 May at King Street; Interiors - a two day sale featuring one day dedicated to affordable Asian Art - on 10 and 11 May at South Kensington; Japanese Art & Design on 11 May at South Kensington and Chinese Ceramics, Works of Art and Textiles on 13 May at South Kensington.

Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art: 10 May at 10.30am & 2.30pm, Christie’s King Street
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Setting the tone of Christie’s Asian Art Week London, the Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale on 10 May features over 300 superb works spanning the Shang period (12th century BC) to the 20th century. Estimates for porcelains, bronzes and works executed in organic materials, such as rhinoceros horn and jade, range from £1,000 to £800,000. This auction presents a significant number of examples from notable private collections, including  11 lots of metal work offered from the collection of Swedish entrepreneur Martin Månsson (1880-1952), which is led by the cover lot: a magnificent rare parcel-gilt silver lobed bowl and cover, Tang dynasty (618-907) (estimate: £400,000-600,000).

The wide array of inspiring porcelain featured is led by a magnificent pair of Qianlong period (1736-95) large blue and white Hu vases, offered from the Property of a Lady, (estimate: £500,000-800,000). This very rare pair of vessels typifies the finest quality of construction and underglaze blue decoration in the reign of one of the Qing dynasty’s greatest patrons of the art, the Qianlong Emperor. Notably their shape originates from earlier metal proto-types, while the inspiration for the painted decoration came from earlier imperial porcelains of the Ming dynasty Xuande reign (1426-35). Robustly potted and finely painted, they are remarkable survivors of the period; no other pair of this type appears to have been published. Dating to the Xuande reign is an exceptionally rare stunning yellow enamel-decorated dish which comes to the market for the first time in over half a  century having been acquired by a private European Collector in the 1950s (estimate: £300,000-500,000). Displaying the six-character reign mark in the center of the overlapping petal motif, it is one of only two known identical overglaze yellow enamelled Xuande dishes with this decoration of petals and fruiting sprays; the other is in the collection of the famous British scholar and collector Sir Percival David.

A fine and rare underglaze blue and copper-red-decorated vase of a powerful but elegant form, which was made for the court of the Qianlong Emperor, will be offered at auction for the first time in over two decades (estimate£350,000-450,000). The decoration of a composite lotus scroll, with undulating stems, feathery leaves and flowerheads, takes its inspiration from decoration on other vases of this style form the early 15th century. Another very similar example is in the Palace Museum, Beijing.

A small group of porcelain offered from a distinguished Asian collector, which spans the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127) to the 19th century Qing dynasty, is led by an important large Dingyao carved ‘Dragon’ dish (estimate: £200,000-300,000). This exceptionally beautiful dish exhibits a freely carved writhing long dragon, with naturalistically defined scales and finely outlined claws. Long dragons, as opposed to chi dragons, are rare on all Northern Song dynasty ceramics, even those destined for the court. Offered for the first time in over 30 years, this porcelain would complement the most refined collection, not only one focusing on Asian art but also contemporary art. A much later example from the collection is a highly desirable famille rose vase of an unusual shape, expressing a multitude of auspicious wishes and displaying flowering branches of peony, osmanthus, chrysanthemum and yellow hibiscus (estimate: £70,000-90,000).

Works executed in a variety of organic materials include an array of important jades, led by a Jiaqing period (1796-1820) imperial large grey and white ‘double-dragon’ seal (estimate: £400,000-600,000). The square platform is surmounted by two entwined ferocious scaly dragons, on a base crisply carved with four characters reading ‘Fu Chun Tang Bao’, which translates to ‘Treasure from the Hall of Spreading Spring.’  Fuchun Tang was located in the Qichun Yuan gardens in the south-east corner of the larger gardens of The Yuanming Yuan, which became the palace of the Empress Dowager. Significant Qianlong examples are led by an imperial inscribed white jade rectangular table screen, of an opaque milky tone (estimate: £400,000-600,000); an exceptionally translucent white jade ‘marriage’ bowl (estimate: £300,000-500,000); a superb, very delicately carved pale celadon jade ‘double-gourd’ washer, which is offered for the first time in over 40 years (estimate: £100,000-150,000) and a magnificent crisply carved white jade imperial ‘dragon’ vase, which comes to the market having been in the same private family collection since the first quarter of the 20th century (estimate: £60,000-80,000).

Other organic materials employed are exemplified by two stellar 17th century archaistic rhinoceros horn libation cups. A ‘nine dragon’ cup, executed in horn of a warm dark tone, exhibits the level of skill and attention to detail the finest carvers possessed; it is one of  five lots from the property of a European Lady, (estimate: £250,000-350,000). An unusually large and finely carved example with the previously unrecorded signature of ‘Xing Gua’ is offered from the Blair Charitable Trust having been removed from Blair Castle, Blair Atholl, Scotland, where it was housed from around 1860 having been brought back by The Hon. Francis Charles Drummond (1815-1904), as a gift and subsequently passed by descent (estimate: £250,000-350,000). For centuries, rhinoceros horn carvings have been considered among the most valued of ancient Chinese works of art.

Following the demand for the furniture offered at Christie’s London in November, this sale features a larger selection including 10 lots from an important private European collector which are led by a pair of large imperial lacquered and gilt cabinets, Sijianggui (four-part wardrobes), Ming dynasty, 17th century (estimate: £300,000-500,000), which were purchased from Yamanka & Co., Beijing in 1918 and are believed to have been in Yamanka’s personal collection. Elsewhere, a very impressive large and magnificently carved 18th century Zitan wood frame exemplifies designs inspired by European rococo (estimate: £50,000-80,000).

The aesthetic power and beauty of bronze is highlighted by a fine archaic bronze ceremonial vessel, Gui, late Shang Dynasty, 12th century BC, which is offered with particularly notable provenance having passed by descent from H.M. King Gustaf VI Adolf of Sweden (1182-1973) (estimate: £100,000-150,000). The unusual ‘spear-head’ pictograph on the interior of the vessel is rare and present on only a few other archaic bronzes of the same period.

Interiors: 10 and 11 May at 10.30am & 2pm, Christie’s South Kensington
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Christie’s South Kensington regularly holds multi-category Interiors sales, offering a wide range of items to furnish the home from floor to ceiling. With estimates starting at only £500 they are incredibly popular, particularly with private collectors. In May, the first Interiors sale of the month presents a two day spectacular, with the sale on 11 May entirely dedicated to an affordable array of Chinese ceramics and works of art that perfectly complement the specialised Asian Art Week sales. The sale comprises more than 350 Chinese works ranging from works of art in jade, ivory, and lacquer through to paintings, textiles, and ceramics, including Part II of the Kendall Collection of 20th century Chinese ceramics. Several items of Chinese furniture will also be offered in the Interiors sale the previous day, 10 May.

Following the success of the Kendall Collection Part I held in May 2010, highlights from Part II include several items bearing the mark of the revered Jiangxi porcelain company dating to the first half of the 20th Century, such as a small ovoid vase (estimate £2,000-3,000) and a pair of blue and white bowls (estimate £800-1,200). The sale comprises both items made for the Chinese market, as well as Chinese export, with the two very different aspects providing an interesting contrast for collectors to choose from. Western taste was distinctly more floral in comparison to wares for the domestic market, as European buyers looked for an attractive alternative to the usual items used for their tableware. Export objects on offer include two Chinese famille rose canton enamel dishes, early 18th century (estimate: £600 – 800) and a Chinese famille rose leaf-shaped stem dish, 19th century (estimate: £2,000-3,000). Chinese taste highlights include a pair of Chinese jadeite hanging vases, circa 1900 (estimate: £3,000-5,000) and a Chinese blue and white bottle vase, Yuhuchunping Daoguang underglaze blue six-character mark and of the period (1821-1850) (estimate: £2,000-3,000).

Japanese Art & Design: 11 May at 10.30am & 2.30pm, Christie’s South Kensington
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The sale of Japanese Art and Design, on 11 May, spans the 16th to the 20th century and showcases over 390 lots which include further inro from the Brozman Collection and Prints from The Illing Collection, following on from the success of the November sale. The sale comprises a superb array of lacquer, netsuke, inro, swords and sword fittings, prints, screens, ceramics and Meiji works of art, with estimates ranging from £1,000 to £90,000. Among the highlights are a finely decorated impressively large cloisonné vase, with the mark of Inaba Nanaho, Meiji period (late 19th century), the property of a trust (estimate: £70,000-90,000) illustrated left and an impressive imperial presentation moriage bowl by Hattori Tadasaburo, Taisho period (early 20th century) (estimate: £50,000-70,000). This bowl was an Imperial gift from the Emperor of Japan, having been presented with an English bulldog.

A remarkably fine group of shibayama inro from the Brozman Collection includes a highly imaginative inro, signed Nemmoto and Kajikawa Bunryusai, Meiji period (estimate: £15,000-20,000). It is in the form of a tsuba and depicts a scene of an oni and skeletons under a flowering cherry tree, with an inebriated monk and two monkeys who have been drinking sake on the reverse.

Among the prints is an okubi-e (large head-portarit) portrait by Toshusai Sharaku (estimate: £40,000-60,000). It depicts Arashi Ryuzo, the top ranked actor of villain roles, as the money lender Ishibe Kinkichi, from the play Hana ayame bunroku, Soga, which was performed at the Miyako theater in 1794. This powerful image, offered from the Property of a European Family, is the cover lot of the sale. In addition, a group of modern and contemporary prints, rarely offered on the London market, illustrate the aesthetic evolution of Japanese prints during the 20th century (estimates: from £500 to £8,000). This group includes an English Gentleman’s collection, led by a complete set of fifteen works entitled Tokyo kaiko zue (Illustrations of Recollections of Tokyo) by a variety of artists, published in 1945 (estimate: £2,000-2,500).

The ceramics are led by one of only four known extraordinary Kakiemon models of an immortal on a tortoise, Edo period (1660-1670), the other known example in England is at Burghley House. This rare model is academically key to dating early enamelled wares (estimate: £20,000-30,000). This work is sold by order of the trustees of the Thirlestane Castle Trust for the benefit of the continuing restoration of the castle.

Other notable works include a group of early lacquer made for the export market following the arrival in Japan of Jesuit missionaries from Portugal at the end of the 16th century. These include a Christian lacquer shrine (Seigan) containing a painting of the Crucifixion, the shrine Momoyama Period (16th century), the painting 18th century (estimate: £20,000-30,000), a small domed casket inlaid in mother-of-pearl inscribed in lacquer with the name Morocaua Luis, Edo Period (mid-17th century) (estimate:  £12,000-15,000), and an impressive lacquer cabinet on European giltwood stand, Edo Period (early 17th century), the stand 17th-18th century (estimate: £40,000-60,000).

Chinese Ceramics, Works of Art and Textiles: 13 May at 10am & 2pm,
Christie’s South Kensington     -     Bid via Christie’s LIVETM

A very strong selection of Chinese works of art, ceramics, paintings and textiles predominantly from the 18th and 19th century will be offered at Christie’s South Kensington on 13 May 2011. The auction presents works from many private collections from the UK, Europe and the Far East. Further highlights from the Kendall Collection of 20th century ceramics will be auctioned, following the stellar results achieved for Part I in May 2010, led by a Chinese famille rose garlic neck bottle vase, Republic period (1912-1949) (estimate: £15,000-25,000). Featuring items which are particularly suited to Chinese taste, with many imperial or imperial style lots and more than 100 jade carvings, over 400 works will be offered in total, with estimates ranging from £2,000-30,000.

Among the many highlights, works executed in ivory are led by a monumental and elegant carving of a female warrior, circa 1900 (estimate: £20,000-30,000). Standing 47 inches /117centimeters tall, on a wire inlaid and stained ivory wooden stand, this figure is offered to the market for the first time in over half a century, having been purchased in the UK in the 1950s-60s and then passed by descent to the present owner. Also dating to the turn of the 20th century is an impressive pair of large archaistic cloisonné enamel censers and covers, Fangding (estimate: £25,000-35,000), from a private Scandinavian Collection. Specialised works include a finely carved jadeite hanging vase and cover, of a rectangular flattened form carved in high relief with archaistic motifs (estimate: £20,000-30,000). Elsewhere, further lots include a finely carved cinnabar lacquer square brushpot, Qianlong period (1736-1795) (estimate: £15,000-25,000) and a beautiful doucai bowl with scrolling flower decoration, dating to, and with the corresponding six-character mark of the Yongzheng period (1723-1735) (estimate: £10,000-15,000).

The stunning array of textiles featured presents the market with a particularly exquisite selection of robes. Demand continues to be strong for examples which were worn at court, whilst those worn by members of the imperial family are even more sought after. Robes of the imperial family include two 19th century formal court robes (chi’fu) which were made for an imperial Duke, one with an estimate of £7,000 to 10,000 and the other in brown silk (estimate:£5,000-8,000). Notably, brown robes were reserved for high ranking male members of the imperial family. Court robe highlights range from a maroon silk formal court robe (chi'fu), Qing dynasty, circa 1870 (estimate: £3,000-5,000), to a formal court robe or chi'fu, Qing dynasty, circa 1840-50 (estimate: £8,000-15,000). Informal jackets are exemplified by an unusual jacket for a lady, woven with crickets and butterflies, China, Qing dynasty, mid-19th century (estimate: £3,000-5,000). Other significant textiles include an embroidered hanging of green velvet, Macao, which was made for the European market, circa 1700 (estimate: £6,000-8,000) and an 18th century Tibetan ritual cloth (estimate: £4,000-6,000).

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