Imperial censer prized in Heritage Auctions’ Asian art sale Sept. 9-10

Elephant censer

Chinese imperial cloisonné enamel and cabochon-mounted gilt bronze elephant censer, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period (est. $50,000-$70,000). Heritage Auctions image

DALLAS – An enamel and gilt bronze censer from the Qing Dynasty is expected to vie for top-lot honors in Heritage Auctions’ Fine & Decorative Asian Art Auction, which will take place Sept. 9-10 in New York. The sale includes numerous lots from private American collections. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

“This is a good auction with a wide variety of privately sourced materials from many periods in Chinese history,” Heritage Auctions’ Asian Art Director Richard Cervantes said. “The range of artwork here represented will capture the interest and satisfy collectors of Asian Art in virtually every category.”

A Chinese imperial cloisonné enamel and cabochon-mounted gilt bronze elephant censer (above), Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period (estimate: $50,000-$70,000) comes from a prominent Southern California family of discerning art collectors. The family has owned it for roughly half a century, since acquiring it during the 1960s. Of note are the elephant-form legs and the large elephant finial, a motif that exemplifies the imperial style of the 18th century.

A large Chinese gilt lacquered bronze figure of Guanyin (below), late Ming Dynasty (estimate: $40,000-$60,000) is an excellent example of such figures the period. The lacquer is exceptionally well-preserved, and the sheer size of the figure – it stands 21 inches tall – gives it exceptional presence, towering over similar figures often cast to a smaller scale.

Elephant censer

Chinese gilt lacquered bronze figure of Guanyin, late Ming Dynasty (est. $40,000-$60,000). Heritage Auctions image

A Chinese Jun ware jar, Yuan Dynasty (estimate: $25,000-$45,000) is an example of the Jun stoneware from the late Chinese middle ages that was prized for its robin’s-egg blue color and royal purple splashes caused by glaze transmutation. Jun ware was difficult to fire and small bowls and plates are most often found. Jun ware of this size was exceedingly rare.

Elephant censer

Chinese Jun ware jar, Yuan Dynasty, 9½in. x 11½in. (est. $25,000-$45,000). Heritage Auctions image

An imperial Chinese carved three-color lacquer nine dragons box and cover, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period (estimate: $20,000-$40,000) is the type of box that was used to present gifts of significant value or importance in the Chinese Imperial court. Such gift boxes are now appreciated as much as the gifts they contained, and with good reason, as the workmanship that went into creating such boxes was extraordinary. The lacquer was carefully applied in thin layers. Several base layers were applied and then another layer of a different color would be added, followed by more lacquer, in a process that could be repeated multiple times. Once the desired number of layers of color and lacquer were applied, ornate designs were carved into the box, ultimately revealing intricate multicolor artwork, depending on the depth of the carving. In this case, the spaces carved into the red surface reveal brown and grey/black layers underneath.

Elephant censer

Imperial Chinese carved three-color lacquer nine dragons box and cover, Qing Dynasty, Qianlong Period, 8½in. x 11 3/8 in. (est. $20,000-$40,000). Heritage Auctions image

A fine Mughal-inspired Chinese carved celadon jade ewer, late Ming Dynasty (estimate: $15,000-$20,000) is made in the style of the royal court of Northern India’s Mughal Empire. The Chinese imperial court and other elites in Chinese society favored decorative arts in the Islamic style. The artists who made this ewer painstakingly carved it from a solid piece of jade, forming the slender walls in an ornate pattern emblematic of the Mughal style but also incorporating repeating “Shou” characters bestowing a wish for long life.

Elephant censer

Mughal-inspired Chinese carved celadon jade ewer, late Ming Dynasty, 9in. x 9½in. 3½in. (est. $15,000-$20,000). Heritage Auctions image

The 433-lot sale also includes a selection of 68 snuff bottles made from many of the diverse materials Chinese artists traditionally use, including jade, hard stone, amber, glass, porcelain, etc.