DALLAS – A masterwork of Ming dynasty porcelain will serve as the centerpiece of Heritage Auctions’s Sept. 20-21 Asian Art Signature® Auction. The peony-patterned Chinese vessel is exquisitely glazed with copper, and was collected by Dr. Cornelius Osgood, the curator of Yale’s Peabody Museum, and his wife, Mrs. Soo Sui-ling Osgood. The dish is estimated at $300,000-$500,000. Absentee and Internet live bidding will be available through LiveAuctioneers.
The Osgoods acquired the dish in New York in 1956 from Frank Caro, the noted successor of famed Asian art dealer C.T. Loo, who also worked with Dr. Osgood. Loo’s role in Dr. Osgood’s collection is key to understanding the significance of the professor’s assemblage. Via his galleries in Paris and New York, Loo was one of the most prominent dealers of Chinese and Southeast Asian art in the first half of the 20th century.
As the Smithsonian writes: “Loo advanced the knowledge of Chinese and Southeast Asian Art in Europe and the United States by introducing new objects, such as archaic bronzes, ancient jades, Buddhist sculpture, and early pottery, to a new clientele.”
Dr. Osgood’s long-standing relationship with both Caro and Loo allowed him to build an outstanding collection of Asian art, and Heritage will offer more than 60 pieces from his collection in the September auction. These include the aforementioned copper-red peony dish, which dates back to the Hongwu Period, circa 1368-1398, and epitomizes Dr. Osgood’s discernment and taste. Copper glazing, due to its unsteady metal oxide, results in many kiln failures, and so this dish represents a major and early success of the form.
“Large-size ware with the well-balanced lobed rim, such as [this dish], is nearly impossible to survive to the present time,” writes the SOAS University of London’s Dr. Chih-En Chen, a scholar of porcelain artworks. “As a result, only a small number of dishes of this form are recorded. In terms of the number and variety of peonies, the Osgood example is among one of the best in this genre. Only three other red-painted Hongwu six-peony dishes of comparable size and form have ever been published.”
More highlights from the Osgood collection include a set of Ming dynasty jade belt plaques, dating to the 14th century and estimated at $60,000-$80,000; and a Tang dynasty blue and sancai glazed pillow, estimated at $10,000-$20,000. In addition, there is a Ming dynasty blue and white bracket lobed dish, estimated at $15,000-$25,000, and a sizable and extremely charming painted pottery dog from the Han dynasty, estimated at $8,000-$12,000. He stands tall with a toothy grin, erect ears and wide eyes pointed toward the sky.
This event is one of the most noteworthy auctions of Asian art at Heritage in recent years and includes more than Osgood’s collection. “We’re also presenting Chinese jade carvings, scholar objects, and modern paintings and Japanese woodblock prints from different important private collections,” said Heritage’s Senior Consignment Director of Asian Art, Clementine Chen. “The paintings include a selection of artwork by many literati and painters, such as Huang Junbi, Ye Gongchao, Ou’ Haonian and others. In fact, this event will feature more than 400 important and curated Chinese, Japanese, Korean and Southeast Asian artworks — many of them of cultural significance.”
One such remarkable work is a Chinese Qing dynasty album, dubbed Twenty-Five Modes of Perfect Enlightenment, which carries an estimate of $300,000-$500,000. This is an Imperial work, after Zhang Ning, from the Qianlong Period or earlier. Imperial work from this era rarely comes to market, and the 25 narrative panels are on blue paper finely painted in silver and gold and bound in an 18th-century leather folio. The final panels round out the narrative with eight extremely rare Imperial seals. Its provenance includes the 19th-century French botanist Frederique Albert Constantin Weber and Demoiselles Densmore, rue Dufresnoy, Paris.
Heritage’s Consignment Director of Asian Art, Moyun Niu, said: “It is a privilege to present over 400 of the finest examples of Asian art this season and to celebrate over 4,000 years of Chinese culture and art history, ranging from rare bronzes to exceptional ceramics, Imperial robes, paintings, calligraphy, jades, furniture and more.”
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