NEW YORK – On Monday, March 18, Gianguan Auctions will celebrate the 18th running of its annual spring sale. As in previous years, the auction is scheduled to offer international collectors taking in events at Asia Week, an independent and trusted source for important and rare Chinese works of art. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.
In tribute to the Year of the Pig, three carved jade pigs will cross the auction block. The highlight is a Ming carving of a smiling pig recumbent in a woven basket with handle (above). The turned-up tips of its ears and the corners of its mouth are symbolic of the comforts of wealth and prosperity associated with pigs. The back of the basket carries the Shou sign, a reference to longevity. At 7½ inches wide, and 3 inches tall, the white-with-russet jade carving weighs 2,808 grams. It is estimated at upwards of $40,000.
A magnificent Kangxi ruyi scepter in the form of a lingzhi fungus leads a strong collection of Qing jade carvings. Fashioned from a rare white jade boulder, the reticulated branches are home to bats, peaches and pomegranates. The scepter is topped with a solid lingzhi head. The carving sits on an undulating wooden plinth that mirrors the overall form. It is expected to command upwards of $20,000.
Equally striking is a translucent white-jade brush pot with russet inclusions. The tall cylinder is articulated with two striding dragons embedded among interlacing layers of foliage and sprays. The elaborate inner carvings that can be seen through the pierced work help create a three-dimensional effect. The brush pot is 4¾ inches tall and estimated at $40,000 or above.
Rarely has a carved jade wine pot with cover conveyed the majesty of Lot 77. Of white jade with russet, the pot has a phoenix-head spout and curled bixie handle. The ovoid body is ornamented with dragons chasing flaming pearl, all surmounted by a domed cover featuring an archaistic dragon. Of the period and bearing the Yongzheng six-character mark, the pot is about 6 inches tall and valued in excess of $60,000.
Works by two female artists of the 21st and 20th centuries highlight the paintings collection. Pomegranates in Bamboo Basket is by Yuhua Shouzhi Wang, who currently has a solo exhibition in the United States. The ink-and-color on paper combines traditional flavor with a contemporary flair that tricks the eye into believing the elegant composition was effortless. It is signed Yuhua, with one artist seal. In 2008, the United States Congress recognized Yuhua Wang as a “great artist and sculptor.” She has also recently been honored with a dedicated gallery at the International Art Museum of San Francisco. Lot 138 is mounted and framed and carries an auction value of $1 million or more.
Song Meiling (1898-2003), publicly known as Madame Chiang Kai-shek, is represented by Sun Moon Lake, a 1956 chiaroscuro hanging scroll that recalls a romantic outing. It is signed and has one artist seal. The colophon with seal commemorated by her husband. The delicate landscape is Lot 141, valued at more than $30,000.
Best-selling artist Qi Baishi (1864-1957) is represented by Shrimps, a field of seven free swimmers. The long, segmented bodies with appendages and short anterior legs take on an abstracted angularity in flourishes of gray and black. Signed “at 89 Baishi,” the hanging scroll has two artist marks. Lot 157 has an $80,000-$100,000 estimate.
An introduction to many moods of Zhang Daqian opens with Boys and Pomegranate. The whimsical painting focuses on three youths in red vests intent on investigating the chambered fruit. One stands on a table behind rockery stretching for the harvest as two children in the foreground focus on the fruit in their hand. The charming scene is Lot 115, dated 1947, signed Zhang Yuan. Its value is placed at around $150,000.
Among the porcelains and decorative items, collectors of cloisonné will find a stunning pair of hexagonal hu-form vases. The enameling features flowering trees and rockery bordered with archaists scrollwork on sky blue panels. At the shoulders, taotie masks set off by Bi are flanked by golden square C-scroll handles. The 15-inch-tall pair bear the Qianlong four-character mark in relief. Of the period, Lot 208 will not languish on the podium at $30,000.