Imperial porcelains highlight Freeman’s June 19 auction

Imperial porcelains

A Chinese six-lobed blue and white porcelain small bowl, Qianlong six-character seal mark and of the period. Estimate: $30,000-$50,000. Freeman’s image

PHILADELPHIA — On Friday, June 19, Freeman’s will offer over 200 carefully selected lots in its Asian Arts auction.  Spanning centuries and countries, the sale is a compelling offering of furniture, porcelains, jades, textiles, sculpture and fine art from across the Far East, including a group of ancient Chinese bronzes from a private Main Line collection and a selection of mark and period Chinese porcelains of the Qing dynasty. Bid absentee or live online through LiveAuctioneers.

The sale includes a fine selection of elegant imperial Chinese porcelains from the 18th and 19th centuries.  The highlight is a rare and refined blue and white-decorated porcelain lobed bowl, Qianlong mark and period (above; $30,000-$50,000).  When acquired by the present owner in 2011, only one other known example, with a yellow enamel ground, was noted.

This piece is joined by a small group of monochrome red bowls and dishes (Lots 59-62) given to the present owner’s mother by her longtime friend, Joseph Paul Gardner — an architect and dancer who served as one of the Monuments Men in World War II and as first director (1933-1953) of what is now the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo.

A strong section of the sale is composed of Buddhist figural arts, including examples rarely encountered on the market.  For sheer elegance of execution, the 15th century Nepalese or Tibetan gilt copper alloy figure of a bodhisattva (below; $20,000-$30,000) is unequaled among the sculptures.  With finely cast and finished details and a rich gilded surface suitably worn by centuries of adoration, the bodhisattva is an example of the fine workmanship, likely Newari, which so influenced the exquisite gilt bronzes of the early Ming dynasty.

Imperial porcelains

A Nepalese or Tibetan gilt copper alloy figure of a bodhisattva 15th century. Estimate: $20,000-$30,000. Freeman’s image

Of particular note is a small, gold repoussé Southeast Asian figure of a seated Buddha from the 12th-14th century (Lot 26, $10,000-$15,000). Acquired by the husband of the present owner from noted New York dealer Doris Wiener, the Buddha is a rare survivor in precious metal, with a lively expression and large presence belying its 2¼-inch height.  It is joined in the sale by a number of additional Chinese, Japanese and Burmese figures of Buddhas and bodhisattvas, which differ in size and are made of varying elements including wood, sandstone, copper and bronze.

Imperial porcelains

Japanese patinated bronze censer and cover with original wood stand, Miyao Meiji period, late 19th century. Estimate: $25,000-$35,000. Freeman’s image

California collector Betty Borman assembled a fine group of Japanese ink paintings and calligraphy, including works by some of the most noted artists of their time.  Of particular note is the grandly scaled Waterfall by Tani Buncho (1763-1840) (below; $6,000-$8,000), which may be the artist’s largest extant work, and a six-panel folding screen, Dragon Vanishing into Clouds, by famed lacquer artist Shibata Zeshin (1807-1891) (Lot 195; $10,000-$15,000).

Imperial porcelains

Tani Buncho (Japanese, 1763-1840), ‘Waterfall,’ ink on paper, inscribed, with a cyclical date equivalent to 1838. Estimate: $6,000-$8,000. Freeman’s image

For details contact Freeman’s head of sale Ben Farina at or 267-414-1219.

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