Gianguan Auctions offers classical Chinese paintings June 17

classical Chinese paintings

‘Lady with Fan,’ a romantic interpretation of a court beauty by Zhang Daqian, 1949. Gianguan Auctions image

NEW YORK – Beginning with Classical Chinese paintings and continuing through collections of bronzes, ceramics, stone seals, and teapots, Gianguan Auctions’ June 17 sale takes collectors deep into their favorite categories. Newcomers to the gallery will discover the quality, consistency and accessibility Gianguan Auctions has stood for since 2002. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

The sale begins with well-curated collections of personal accessories and swells to encompass paintings by internationally famous artists. Among the outstanding smalls is a set of scholar’s garniture in cloisonné. The five pieces – an inkstone warmer with cover, brush holder; brush washer with ladle, and a weasel bristle pen – have a vibrant sapphire-blue ground decorated with a yellow Wan character above and amid a front-facing dragon in pursuit of a flaming pearl. The details are set within multicolored ruyi clouds and roiling waves, all set off by a gilt border. Each piece bears the Qing Dynasty, Qianlong four-character mark and is of the period. Lot 154 is estimated at upwards of $40,000 USD.

classical Chinese paintings

Magnificent cloisonné five-piece scholar’s set. Gianguan Auctions image


A polychromed lacquer box with 16 lobes is an outstanding example of the tianqi method of coloration. Finely incised on the fitted lacquer cover is a central lotus bloom surrounded by scrolling Ba Jixiang (Eight Buddhist Emblems). The flower is made vibrant in shades of red, turquoise blue, burnt amber and green. The lobes of the box itself are decorated with gilt phoenixes amid clouds. Of the Qing Dynasty with an incised Qianlong six-character mark, Lot 71 is of the period. At 15½ inches in diameter and 7 inches tall, it is valued at more than $10,000.

classical Chinese paintings

Sixteen-lobed lacquer box with incised and painted decoration. Gianguan Auctions image

Further attesting to the creativity of scholar’s items is a well carved floral cup carved from a bamboo root. An anonymous visionary worked chisel and blade with great care to forge a budding flower surrounded by smaller buds on a stand. At just 4 inches tall, the cup’s surface has been patinated to a dark caramel brown. Lot 78 is expected to bring more than $1,500.

Votive properties include several distinctive pieces such a massive Zitan Guanyin with child clutching a lotus. Carved from a single piece of wood (with mandorla added on) the deity presents as the Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion. Set above rough waves that indicate the deity’s willingness to rescue those in need and answer the prayers of the infertile, the Guanyin exudes serenity. Lot 170 is 38 inches tall. Its value is $60,000 or more.

Contrasting is a naturalistic, root-carved grotto housing a Guanyin. The knotty stumps of the tree root flow in free-form around the deity seated within. The cowl and loose robes are in keeping with her peaceful countenance (est. $4,000+).

classical Chinese paintings

A naturalistic portrayal of Guanyin carved from a root. Gianguan Auctions image

The magic of the copper red glaze is apparent in several of the porcelains. A Ming peony jar with cover is a prime example. Of crushed-raspberry tones with dull gray, it is decorated with scrolls of flower sprays and scroll bands. The Yongle period jar is Lot 227. The starting bid is $10,000.

The catalog cover lot Lady with Fan leads a selection of four paintings by Zhang Daqian that display his virtuosity and mood in the mid to late 1940s. A traditionalist who eschewed tradition, Zhang Daqian heightened the interest in this statuesque portrait of a courtly maiden by focusing on the detail in the back of her golden silk robe. The face, done in flesh tones with white makeup, is a beguiling three-quarter portrait. Dated 1949, it is Lot 166, inscribed and signed Zhang Daqian, with three artist seals and one collector seal. The estimate is upwards of $80,000.

A color splash skyline entitled Sunset, by the same artist, is a tour de force of the technique that was new at mid-century. Blues run into dark mountain peaks just as the eye might catch at dusk. Signed Daqian, Yuan, the painting carries two artist seals. It is Lot 14. A hard-edged landscape, Snow Capped Xishan, comes to life in angles and cool earth tones. It is Lot 82, titled, inscribed, signed, and bearing four artist seals. Two more figurative paintings, Scholar and Plum Blossom, Lot 198, and Scholar Under Willow, Lot 112, with colophon by Shi Shuping are of strong interest. Estimates on these paintings start at upwards of $20,000.

Cranes, the prince of birds often associated with longevity and peace, are depicted in symbolic guises in four panels by the maestro Lu Kuchon (1898-1983). The tour de force shows pairs under pines, among peonies, in greenery and flying. In each panel, one bird looks upwards while the other tends to more earthly matters. Each scroll is inscribed and signed Kuchan and carries three artist seals. Lot 120 is estimated at more than $60,000.

classical Chinese paintings

‘Cranes,’ a four-panel work by Lu Kuchon (1898-1983). Gianguan Auctions image

The masterpiece that deserves mention and will be the measure of more accessible landscapes is Scholar in the Mountain by Qing Dynasty painter Shi Tao (1630-1724). The landscape that reaches beyond the world of mortals to embody the transcendental aspirations of the scholar couched in a fold of the mountain, is rendered in tones of black ink. Dated 1686, inscribed and signed Shi Tao, with one artist seal, Lot 109 will command $150,000 or more.

Meanwhile, there are many accessible paintings by such known artists as Fu Baoshi, Cheng Shifa, Wu Guanzhong, Wu Changshuo and Liu Danzhai. They range in value from $3,000 upwards.

For details on these and all the properties in Gianguan Auctions June 17 sale call 212- 867-7288.