PRESS RELEASE: The Marie Theresa L. Virata Collection of Asian Art: A Family Legacy
‘A benchmark of quality and refinement’ — the Virata Collection
New York – Christie’s presents The Marie Theresa L. Virata Collection of Asian Art: A Family Legacy, which will be offered on March 16, 2017 during Christie’s Asian Art Week. This collection of over 80 works is one of the most significant private collections of classical Chinese furniture, and also includes an exceptional range of ceramics, Japanese screens, Chinese carpets, and works of art with estimates from $200 to $2,000,000. Proceeds from this auction will be donated to charitable organizations including Child Protection Network, ICanServeFoundation, Inc., and Cribs Foundation, Inc.
Over the course of the last fifty years, the Virata family has assembled one of the most significant collections of Asian art in the Philippines. For Marie Theresa L. Virata, also known as ‘Bebe’, collecting was rooted in her interest in archaeology and her desire to connect to the past as well as her interest in history and culture. In 1966 she sponsored a school at the site of one of the most important excavations in Philippine history. Her interest in early export Chinese ceramics led to a friendship with Sir John Addis, the British ambassador to the Philippines at the time, a keen collector of Chinese furniture.
The legendary dealer and collector Robert Hatfield Ellsworth was a close friend and also a major influence in the shaping of Bebe’s collection. His striking New York apartment on Fifth Avenue was an inspiration for her interiors, in which Chinese furniture and objects complemented Japanese screens, Asian and European decorative arts and paintings.
The Virata family focused on works with distinguished provenance, superior condition and esteemed publication history. Many of the furniture pieces have appeared in major international exhibitions of Asian art, and previously belonged to important collectors and scholars in the field. Highlights include a pair of very rare 17th century huanghuali ‘southern official’s hat’ armchairs (estimate: $600,000- 800,000), which come from the collection of Gustave Ecke, and appears in the groundbreaking 1944 book Chinese Domestic Furniture, as does a huanghuali lamp stand (estimate: $120,000-180,000), formerly of the famed Pan-Asian collection; a very rare huanghuali kang table dating the Wanli period (1572-1620) (estimate: $500,000-700,000); a rare pair of zitan ‘offical’s hat’ armchairs, sichtuguanmaoyi (estimate: $800,000-1,200,000); and an important zitan luohan bed, luohanchuang, 18th century (estimate: $2,000,000-3,000,000).
Additional highlights demonstrating the range of objects on offer in this sale include Sunrise Over Water, a hanging scroll by Qi Baishi (1864-1957) (estimate: $500,000-700,000); a Flambé-Glazed Vase, Qianlong mark and of the period (1736-1795) (estimate: $30,000-50,000); a 'Goloubew' Five-Medallion daybed cover carpet, Ningxia, North China, Kangxi Period (1662-1722) (estimate: $20,000-30,000); and an Imperial Yellow-Glazed Cup, Yongzheng Mark and of the period (1723-1735) (estimate: $30,000-50,000).
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