Lum said that, according to the Chinese Association of Auctioneers, sales statistics show a drop of more than 18% in total revenues for 2011 (as compared to 2010), as well as a 20% (this is an estimate, as no official figures are ever published) non pick-up rate.
“Auction houses in Europe and the USA are alarmed by the non pick-ups especially of the high-priced items,” Lum said, but he also noted that an adjustment is “not necessarily a bad thing for the antique market, as the short history and rapid ascent of the Chinese antiques auctions may, in fact, have created a bubble. An adjustment period will correct a lot of wrongs.”
Lum’s advice is reflected in the realistic estimates and reliable cataloging of the fine Chinese paintings, ceramics, bronzes and works of art in the upcoming 315-lot sale, which will feature Internet live bidding through LiveAuctioneers.com.
Gianguan opens its morning session with more than 70 traditional and contemporary paintings by renowned Chinese artists whose works are in the $4,000-$25,000 range. World art leaders included in the sale offer promise for high-level collectors.
Among these is Zhang Daqian’s Lotus. Collectors will remember that Zhang Daqian’s works outsold Picasso’s in 2011. Lotus is an ink on paper image, rendered in a matured splashed-ink technique vaguely reminiscent of the Abstract Expressionist movement. Its three stamps and seal are from Daqian’s own collection. It is Lot 12. The catalog estimate is $200,000-$300,000.
Fu Baishi, whose recent retrospective at the Metropolitan Museum of Art introduced him to audiences worldwide, is represented by an ink and paper scroll titled Three Musicians. A departure from the nationalistic style favored by Mao, this painting of musicians in a landscape integrates poetic atmosphere with traditional ink technique. It is Lot 33, expected to bring $100,000-$150,000.
Lot 62, a Bodhisattva painting with calligraphy by Master Hongyi, should be well received at $8,000-$12,000. Of black and red inks on paper, the work of art is a fitting way to celebrate the 130th anniversary of the artist, who became a monk at the age of 39.
The catalog cover features Lin Liang’s Hawk and Magpies, a Ming Dynasty ink and color on paper. The highly detailed painting portrays birds on a tree branch. Inscribed by Liang Qingbiao, signed Lin Liang, the large scroll carries four collectors seals. It is Lot 53 and expected to bring around $300,000.
Gianguan Auctions’ afternoon session is comprised of decorative arts, many of them scholar objects. Some are functional and others are inspirational. Most are small enough to decorate a desk or complement a study.
For the contemporary office, there is a finely carved zitan telephone with LED screen and push buttons. The casing is remarkable openwork carving of gnarled branches adorned with birds, flowers, bamboo and plum blossoms. The unusual phone is expected to bring upwards of $15,000.
Among the traditional items, the highlight is an Imperial Qian Long zitan brushpot raised on three tab feet. It is signed by the emperor. The inlays of wood, mother-of-pearl, coral, malachite and ivory depict birds among prunus blossoms and rockery. A spring poem and two imperial seals complete the design. Estimate is $10,000-$15,000.
Two other brush pots of note are Lots 263 and 311, each with thick walls and high relief carvings. Both are in the $3,000-$4,000 range.
The most unusual of the brush pots is carved from a zitan tree root, its naturalistic form unadorned. It is lot 327, estimated at $2,000 upward.
Of the Chinese ceramics, the marquee item is a rare Qing Dynasty Famille Rose red garlic head vase similar to one in the permanent collection of the newly renovated Beijing Capital Museum. It is Lot 271 and is finely painted with flowering prunus branches and bamboo, the design features two birds. The leaves are drawn in shades of green to blue, all reversed on an even rich red ground. The vase stands 8 1/2 inches tall and bears the Yongzheng Four Character mark and is of the period. The estimate is available on request.
Collectors in the market for accessible small items will find a collection of seals—Tianhuang, Shoushan, Jixue and Furonog—clustered at Lots 162–170.
With the popularity of carved jades strong, collectors will discover numerous offerings of jades rendered in naturalistic forms and as groupings. Their estimates range from $4,000-$20,000.
For complete details these items as well as the cinnabar and ivory carvings, decorative ceramics and pottery, see the online catalog at http://gianguanauctions.com.
Gianguan Auctions’ June 10 sale begins at 11 a.m. EDT. It will be conducted live at the gallery, 285 Madison Ave. in Manhattan and online at LiveAuctioneers.com. For condition reports, call 212-867-7288.
ADDITIONAL LOTS OF NOTE