Gianguan Auctions puts emphasis on Chinese masterpieces in Dec. 12 sale

Chinese masterpieces

Hsia Yan (b. 1932), ‘After George Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon.’ Estimate: $30,000. Gianguan Auctions image

NEW YORK – The value of the offerings in Gianguan Auctions’ Dec. 12 sale rests not only on the standards of rarity, design and craftsmanship but also on the symbolism projected. While Western collectors may overlook deeper meanings of the subject matter in paintings, on ceramics and carved into jade, Chinese collectors will take into account the messages of longevity, harmony, prosperity and happiness. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

A highlight of this approach is Snow Mountain, an 11th-century hanging scroll. Created by court painter Guo Xi (A.D. 1023-1085), who utilized idiomatic brushstrokes, the work is a rare example of the perspective known as “the angle of totality.” In this work, the artist renders a view of a distant mountain that ascends from a stream through the scree of falling rock to treeless terrain and culminates in roiling clouds, reflecting the aspirations of mankind to attain a higher state of being. Signed Guo Xi, the work has eight emperors’ seals and 17 collectors’ seals.  Lot 99, it is valued at $1.2 million or higher.

Chinese masterpieces

‘Snow Mountain,’ an 11th-century hanging scroll by court painter Guo Xi, who utilized idiomatic brushstrokes. Estimate: $1.2 million. Gianguan Auctions image

The sheer beauty of Autumn Bouquet by Jiang Tingxi (1669-1732) must be mentioned. Delicate shades of jade green and celadon are used in the vase and leaves while the addition of pale pink blossoms creates harmony. Signed Jiang Tingxi, with seven collectors’ seals and five colophons, Lot 202 is a good value at upwards of $15,000.

The tradition of seeking artistic truth through symbols has been carried through to the 20th- century works of Xu Beihong (1895-1953) whose horses came to signify the indomitable spirit of the Chinese against invasions of the 1930s and 1940. In Standing Tall a regal horse presents a three-quarter profile. Dated 1942, the ink-and-color on paper scroll is inscribed and signed Beihong and has one artist seal. It is Lot 135, valued at upwards of $20,000

Fu Baoshi (1904-1965), who brought Japanese techniques to Chinese ink painting and is generally recognized as the Father of the New Chinese Art Movement, is represented by a 1945 ink washed work titled Hither My Companions. Monochromatic with pale pink and flesh tones, it interprets a day in the country that transcends the political exposition usually practiced by mid-century Chinese artists. The scroll is inscribed and signed Fu Baoshi and bears three artist seals. Lot 151 is estimated to go off at more than $40,000.

Wu Qingxia (1910-2008), a female modernist, often used symbolism to express longing. Geese, 1979, sets within a pond two that gaze upwards at birds in flight while other pond birds dive and divert. The composition puts arcing boughs above the waterfowl and the taunting birds at its pinnacle. Lot 37 will draw as much as $15,000.

Chinese masterpieces

‘Geese,’ by Wu Qingxia (1910-2008), a leading Chinese female modernists. Estimate: $15,000. Gianguan Auctions image

Offsetting these traditional works is a collection of contemporary art that includes Hsia Yan’s (b. 1932) masterpiece After George Seurat’s Sunday Afternoon. The 1999 work sets the famous work within the framework of Fuzzy Line style, creating a visual restlessness. Lot 204, signed in Pinyin, dated and framed, has a starting bid of $30,000.

The paintings collection is peppered with entry-level works ranging from $1,000 on up.

A large Guanyin cannot be overlooked. Crafted by celebrated 17th-century potter He Chaozong, the statuette embodies the master’s attributes: a sensitive face modeled with downcast eyes and a benevolent smile; graceful fingers and toes; a waist-knotted robe with detailed folds that indicate weight and a hem that billows behind. A He Chaozong seal mark is visible on the back along with a double gourd outline. A similar example resides in the Palace Museum. Lot 120 is 10¾ inches (26.8 cm) high, valued at upwards of $20,000.

Chinese masterpieces

Guanyin crafted by celebrated 17th-century potter He Chaozong. Estimate: upwards of $20,000. Gianguan Auctions image

Outstanding examples of religious art suited to home or church include a Yuan Dynasty standing Guanyin with crown, celestial scarf and beaded jewelry around the neck and on the forehead, all edged in a pale blue glaze. The unglazed, biscuit fired face is rounded and naturalistically carved. At nearly 17 inches (41.6 cm) tall, Lot 119 is a bargain at $8,000 or more.

Among the decorative values are a massive Tang Dynasty jade ewer with cover and fowl spout, all decorated with gilt filigree vines, four cartouches and two high-relief musicians. At 3840 grams (8 pounds), the 9-inch-tall (25.1 cm) ewer is highly desirable at upwards of $4,000.

Chinese masterpieces

Qing Dynasty noblewoman’s waistcoat that is framed with both sides on display. Estimate: upwards of $1,500. Gianguan Auctions image

Lovers of textile art and fashion will take pleasure in a Qing Dynasty noblewoman’s waistcoat. The formal vestment is heavily embroidered in gilt thread on appliqués of rank and auspicious signs. Framed in plexiglass that display both sides, Lot 171 starts at $2,000. For background info,  visit the Peabody Essex Museum show “Empresses of China’s Forbidden City.”

Ceramic highlights include a Ming doucai (five colors, each applied and fired individually) bamboo plate with a red mythical beast resembling an antelope at the center surrounded by flowers and rockery. Lot 129 bears the Wanli six-character mark in double circles and is of the period and starts at  $15,000.

Chinese masterpieces

Ming doucai bamboo plate with a red mythical beast resembling an antelope at the center surrounded by flowers and rockery. Estimate: $15,000. Gianguan Auctions image

For the first time in its 15-year history, Gianguan is offering a section of properties with no-reserve.  For condition reports, please contact the Gallery Director at

The sale will be conducted live on Wednesday Dece. 12, at 6 p.m. Eastern time.