Neolithic to modern pieces bring depth to Gianguan’s June 9 sale


A rare pair of octagonal cloisonné vases with the Qianlong four-character mark encircled cast in relief. 37.5 cm (14.5 inches). Gianguan Auctions image

NEW YORK – In an auction that features a collection of both elaborate Buddhist statues and important paintings by traditional and contemporary Chinese masters, a selection of archetypal ceramics and early bronzes add unusual depth. The properties go off on June 9 at Gianguan Auctions at 6 p.m. Eastern Time. Absentee and Internet live bidding is available through LiveAuctioneers.

The remarkable staying power of blue and white porcelain is evidenced by a tall Qing Dynasty Yuhuchunping with trumpet mouth and body decorated with a continuous frieze of bamboo, plantain trees and rock work in a fenced garden. Bearing the Qianlong six-character mark, and of the period, the vase is similar to one illustrated in the Beijing Palace Museum collection. It is Lot 51 and valued at more than $60,000.

Cloisonné collectors will find interest in a rare pair of statuesque octagonal vases with well-defined scenes of five-clawed dragons in vibrant colors set off by gold edging (above). The pair is Lot 210, valued at more than $30,000.

A fluted, earthy yellow Yaozhou bowl with six subtly-shaped lobes is a fine example of the craftsmanship Song Dynasty potters achieved while Europe was still in the Dark Ages. Carved with peony sprays on the exterior and interior, it is Lot 160. Bidding begins at $15,000.

The metaphors Chinese artists use to present life reaches an apotheosis in Gao Jianfu’s Persimmon Time, a work in four panels. Using the tree to say “all is good,” the artist, whose popularity was at a peak in the 1930s-40s, integrated Western techniques with Chinese ones. A dry upright pen was used to create weathered branches. Bright, western-style colors portray the fruit. The painting is similar to one in the National Museum of China. It is Lot 133 with an estimate of more than $40,000.


Gao Jianfu, ‘Persimmon Time,’ hanging scroll in four panels, ink and color on paper, dated 1933, 46 × 92 in. Gianguan Auctions image

Li Keran, favored for his ability to capture the playfulness of buffalo herders in spare strokes, is represented by, among other paintings, Herding. The simple but dynamic composition could well be called “will over strength” as a young boy tries to leash along a massive animal. With two artists seals and one collector’s seal, it is Lot 85, starting at $10,000.


Li Keran’s ‘Herding,’ ink and color on paper, two artists seals and one collector’s seal. Gianguan Auctions image

Zhang Daqian’s bold but ethereal 1950 work entitled Dunhuang Apsara, offers a modern take on the goddess. Signed and bearing four artist seals and the seal of artist/collector Xie Zhiliu, it is Lot 145, set to open at $40,000.

Gianguan’s catalog cover lot is a Warring States era gilt bronze food vessel with a cover, also known as a ding. Heavily cast, this vessel on cabriole legs is of globular form, decorated with cicada-filled blades in relief below a band of dragon masks. Upright bail handles rise from the rim. The ding is Lot 192, estimated at more than $15,000.


Warring States ding, a bronze food vessel with cover. Gianguan Auctions image

A marquee item from the period is a rare bronze ritual censer with cover, known as a Dou. Standing on a tall pedestal that rises into three animal form trestles, the decoration is of mythical beasts. The patina is milky green with areas of malachite and azurite encrustation. It is Lot 189, estimated at $15,000.

A crystal bixie, exquisitely carved as a recumbent beast, has legs tucked under and tail flicked to the side. The head looks outwards with an open mouth. The dark emerald crystal has a semi-clear translucence. The work was possibly unearthed in Hangzhou. The bixie is Lot 238, with a starting bid of $20,000.

Buddhist and religious statues include a rare Northern Zhou gilt-bronze seated Buddha with a robe that transcends its bounds and drapes over the three-tiered pedestal. It is Lot 213, expected to fetch more than $20,000.

The aesthetics of the Ming are well defined in a gilt bronze Sakyamuni Buddha enhanced with a turquoise robe decorated with pink and red flowers within a matrix of fine wire. It is Lot 206, engraved with the Ming Dynasty Yongle Six Character mark, estimated at upwards of $15,000.


Seated Buddha dressed in a turquoise robe enhanced with pink and red flowers and scrolls within a matrix of fine wire. Gianguan Auctions image

Buddhas of carved jade also find a niche in the sale. A 20-inch carving of the standing Sakyamuni Maitreya is a fine example of period craftsmanship. Defined by a meditative expression and loose robes, Lot 205 weighs 26 pounds and is valued at upwards of $6,000.

While these highlights offer the flavor of Gianguan Auction’s June 9 sale, collectors and curators, dealers and decorators will find many other important and accessible treasures, including stone seals and jade and diamond jewelry, throughout the catalog.