Theow H. Tow, Deputy Chairman of Christie’s Americas and Honorary Chairman of Christie's Asia said: “We are thrilled once again with the excellent sale of Property from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, which totaled $4,005,250, tripling its pre-sale expectations. We welcomed a number of new collectors and witnessed competitive bidding with a rate of 99% sold by value and 96% sold by lot, and with many lots selling for prices well above their estimates. The top lot, a very rare large limestone figure of a kneeling Bodhisattva, sold for an astounding $914,500 to a new collector. We look forward to tomorrow’s sale of Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art.”
A Very Rare Large Limestone Figure of a Kneeling Bodhisattva, 10th-12th Century. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010
Well carved as Avalokitesvara with head turned to the right and kneeling on the right knee atop a lotus base, with left hand raised and right hand grasping part of the long scarf draped over the left arm, wearing a beaded necklace tied in back with long ends that trail down the back and onto the base, a scarf tied diagonally around the torso and a dhoti folded over at the waist that falls in crisp folds over the edge of the base, the hair dressed in knotted tresses that fall atop the shoulders and in a topknot partially obscured by the foliate crown centered by a seated figure of Amitabha Buddha and tied with ribbons gathered in bunches at the sides - 42 in. (106.5 cm.) high. Estimate $300,000 - $500,000 . Sold $914,500£613,758 €687,593 to an U.S. Private.
Provenance: Tonying & Co., New York.
Avery Brundage Collection, acquired prior to 1960.
Nagatani, Inc., Chicago, January 1965.
Literature: O. Sirén, Chinese Sculpture from the Fifth to the Fourteenth Century, vol. II, reprint, 1998, pl. 564 B.
Sun Di, ed., Zhonguo liu shi hai fo jiao xiang zong he tu mu (Comprehensive Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Buddhist Statues in Overseas Collections), vol. 7, Beijing, 2005, p. 1312.
Exhibited: Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon, Exhibition of Chinese Sculpture, 15 July - 15 September 1940, no. 3.
On loan: Princeton University Art Museum, 1969 - October 2008.
Notes: The image of Amitabha, the Buddha of the Western Paradise, in the crown of this magnificent figure identifies him as an incarnation of Avalokitesvara, the most venerated and benevolent of all bodhisattvas. The broad, corpulent figure is shown in princely guise, with long hair gathered up into a high chignon behind the crown and splendidly draped in sumptuous silk scarves and jewelry as befitting his regal heritage. The sensitive modeling, rounded forms and flowing drapery display a marked interest in movement and naturalism, which is a departure from the restraint and penchant for abstract form and line of earlier eras.
The mate to the present figure is in the Avery Brundage Collection, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. The two figures are shown in mirror image, each with one arm raised to hold an offering. In Chinese, Korean and Japanese Sculpture, Japan, 1974, p. 262, Clarence Shangraw describes the offering held by the Brundage figure as a "six-lobed saucer containing an unidentified object that resembles a crystaline-like substance". In early publications, the Sackler figure is shown holding a similar offering, which is now missing. Both figures are shown wearing very similar garments and festoons of beaded chains. The Brundage figure, however, is shown with a scarf draped over the shoulders, and the crown on that figure has an outer band of flattened spirals which frame a cuspate tiara centered by an intricate chain ending with a jewel, which hangs pendent at the forehead. Shangraw notes, ibid, p. 262, that it has been suggested that the Brundage figure may represent Bixia Yuanjun (Primal Princess of the Azure Clouds).
In the past this pair of figures has been given various dates, ranging from the Sui period to the Song. However, the overall proportions, with elegantly tapering waist, broad but sloping shoulders, soft, rounded modeling and large oval head with crisp facial features are all characteristics of Liao and Jin sculpture of the 10th to 11th centuries. Compare, for example, the stucco figures in the Preservation of Sutras Hall, Lower Avatamsaka Temple (Xia Huayan Si), Datong, Shanxi province, dedicated in AD 1038, illustrated in Hua Yan Si, Beijing, 1980, pls. 39-59, and in particular pls. 60-65, which show bodhisattvas in poses similar to that of the Sackler and Brundage figures. A similar sense of graceful movement and soft, rounded modeling can also be seen on a smaller (44.5 cm. high) grey limestone figure of Guanyin, dated Liao or Jin dynasty, eleventh-twelfth century, illustrated by M. G. Neill in the exhibition catalogue, The Communion of Scholars, Chinese Art at Yale, China House Gallery, China Institute in America, New York, 1982, p. 57, no. 21.
The Sackler and Brundage figures also compare well stylistically to gilt-bronze bodhisattva figures of Liao date, such as two examples illustrated by S. Matsubara, Chuugoku bukkyo chokokushi ron (The Path of Buddhist Sculpture), vol. 3, Tang, Five Dynasties, Sung and Taoism Sculpture, Tokyo, 1995, pls. 800-a and 821-b.
Techinical Examination Report available upon request.
A Rare Small Yellowish-Green Jade Bangle, Warring States Period, 5th Century B.C. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010
The sides carved in low relief with a continuous pattern of J-shaped scrolls alternately combined with either striated or scale pattern scrolls, within plain narrow borders, the stone semi-translucent - 2¼ in. (5.7 cm.) diam. Est. $7,000 - $9,000. Sold $266,500£178,859 €200,375 to an Asian Private.
Provenance: A.W. Bahr Collection, Weybridge, 1963.
A Bronze Tripod Steamer, Xian, Late Shang/Early Western Zhou Dynasty, 12th-11th Century B.C. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010
The deep bowl cast in intaglio with a taotie band filled with black inlay below a pair of upright rope-twist handles, each mask centered between the three bovine masks hollow cast at the top of each leg, the bottom of the interior fitted with a hinged, rounded triangular grate pierced with five cross motifs, with a single character cast below the rim on the interior - 14 3/8 in. (36.5 cm.) high. Est. $10,000 - 15,000 - Sold $146,500£100,342 €110,150 to an Asian Trade
Provenance: Collection of Frank A. McMillan "Thornewood Castle"; Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 29 May 1973, lot 2.
Literature: Chen Mengjia, Yin Zhou qingtongqi fenlei tulu (In Shu seidoki bunrui zuroku; A Corpus of Chinese Bronzes in American Collections), 2 vols., Tokyo, 1977, A132, R235.
Sun Zhichu, Jinwen zhulu jian mu, Beijing, 1981, no. 1410.
J. Rawson, Western Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, vol. IIB, The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, 1990, pp. 334-9, no. 31.
Notes: The single character or graph is recorded by Zhou Fagao et al., Jinwen gu lin, 16 vols., Hong Kong, 1974-5, fulu, p. 613 (2256).
A Large Bronze Ritual Ewer, Yi, Late Western Zhou Dynasty, 8th Century B.C. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010
The broad body raised on three legs, cast in intaglio below the rim with a band of scales above a chevron band, with further scales on the sides of the ear-shaped handle that terminates in a horned animal head biting the rim 6 15 in. (38.1 cm.) long. Est. $12,000 - 18,000. Sold $134,500£90,268 €101,127 to n Asian Private
Provenance: Acquired in 1966 or earlier.
Literature: Tch'ou To-i, Bronzes Antiques de la Chine Appartenant, C.T. Loo & Cie, Paris and Brussels, 1924, p. 17.
Jung Keng, Yenching Journal of Chinese Studies, Monograph Series No. 17, The Bronzes of Shang and Chou, vol. II, Beijing, China, 1941, pl. 453, no. 860.
R. Poor, Bronze Ritual Vessels of Ancient China, New York, 1968.
J. Rawson, Western Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, vol. IIB, The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, 1990, pp. 712-5, no. 120.
A Very Rare Mother-Of-Pearl-Inlaid Black-Lacquered Low Table, Yuan/Early Ming Dynasty, 13th-14th Century. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010
The rectangular top finely inlaid in mother of pearl with butterflies and bees flittering above lush branches of blossoming peony, within wire-twist borders and an outer border of peony scroll, each blossom meticulously inlaid in the center with lotus, birds, peony, bees or stylized roundels, above split, beaded aprons on each long side, and plain, beaded aprons on each narrow side, the beading continuing to the bottom of the short, double hoof-shaped feet, joined on the underside by single stretchers of rounded section - 6 5/16 in. (16 cm.) high, 37 5/8 in. (95.6 cm.) wide, 22 9/16 in. (57.3 cm.) deep, wood box. Est. $70,000 - 90,000. Sold $134,500£90,268 €101,127 to Littleton & Hennessy Asian Art
Provenance: Sammy Y. Lee & Wangs Co., Hong Kong, 1973.
Literature: Lee Yu-kuan, Oriental Lacquer Art, New York/Tokyo, 1972, pp. 302-3, no. 231.
M. Beurdeley, Chinese Furniture, Tokyo, New York and San Francisco, 1979, p. 36, no. 46.
Notes: When published by Lee, the present lot was dated Song dynasty, 10th century. In his discussion, the author noted that Senator and Mrs. Hugh Scott, avid collectors of Chinese art, and Cheng Te-Kun of Cambridge, England, examined the table and suggested an earlier date, possibly Tang dynasty, although Lee notes that its construction is more consistent with furniture of a later date. This is confirmed by two radiocarbon analyses peformed on the wood which confirm a date between 1223-1399. However, while some portions of the wood may have a date range which includes early Ming, the table is stylistically more likely to be Yuan in date. Compare a very similar conjoined floral scroll seen on the edge of the Ju Yong Guan stone gate at the Nan Kou pass near Beijing, which is dated 1345, illustated by J.M. Addis, Chinese Ceramics from Datable Tombs and Some Other Dated Material, Sotheby Parke Bernet, London and New York, 1978, pp. 43-6, nos. 29a-e, where the author notes that "the flower-scroll with strongly marked encircling stem and variant flower-forms is characteristic of late Yuan decoration on porcelain".
The shape of the present table can be found as early as the Five Dynasties period, as evidenced by a much larger wooden platform excavated in 1980 from the tomb of Cai Zhuang in Jiangsu. (Fig. 1) It is interesting to note the similarity in the shape of the legs and spandrels, although those on the present table are more fluid and less formalized. While it is possible that the present table may have had removable legs to adjust its height, low tables of this form with similar abrupt feet are known. See a longer low table in a detail of a Five Dynasties painting in the Palace Museum, Beijing, of scholars playing weiqi, illustrated in Zhongguo Meishu Quanji - Hui Shu Bian, vol. II, Beijing, 1988, p. 120, no. 61. (Fig. 2) Another low table, also with similar feet, is illustrated ibid., p. 118, no. 60.
An Extremely Rare Blackish-Brown Lacquered Eight-Legged Table, 12th/Early 15th Century. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010
With rectangular top indented at each corner, supported on each narrow side by four tall, ribbed cabriole legs terminating in upswept feet, covered overall in a finely crackled blackish-brown lacquer - 19 3/8 in. (49.2 cm.) high, 16 5/16 in. (41.4 cm.) wide, 13½ in. (34.3 cm.) deep. Est. $60,000 - 80,000. Sold $128,500£86,241 €96,616 to an US private
Provenance: Sammy Y. Lee & Wangs Co., Hong Kong, 1973.
Literature: Lee Yu-kuan, Oriental Lacquer Art, New York/Tokyo, 1972, pp. 298-9, no. 228.
M. Beurdeley, Chinese Furniture, Tokyo, New York and San Francisco, 1979, no. 35.
Notes: Surviving examples of early lacquer furniture such as the present lot are very rare, primarily due to the fragility of the materials used, as many early examples employed softwood frames which are more subject to breakage. When published by Lee in 1972, the present table was dated Tang dynasty, eighth century, perhaps due to stylistic similarities to other early known examples. See a detail from the Five Dynasties painting entitled 'The Reading Lesson,' attributed to Huang Quan (903-965), included in the Special Exhibition of Furniture in Paintings, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1996, pl. III, where a scholar and his attendant are seated beside low tables with numerous legs joined by base stretchers. (Fig. 1) However, examples of this form can be seen as early as the Han dynasty, as evidenced by a tall carved lacquer armrest dated to the Warring States period, excavated from Xinyang district in Henan, illustrated in Arts of China: Neolithic Cultures to the T'ang Dynasty, Tokyo, 1968, p. 58, nos. 103-4. It is interesting to note that the excavated armrest is also raised on four legs on either side and its height (48 cm.) is very similar to that of the present lot, leaving the possibility that the present table may have also been used as an armrest.
The results of three radiocarbon analyses performed on the present table place the date of the wood between 1037-1268, and the lacquer between 1320-1423. While the table may therefore be of earlier date than the lacquer, the latest its date of construction can be is early 14th century-early 15th century.
A Copper-Inlaid Bronze Ritual Wine Jar, Hu, Late Warring States Period, 4th-3rd Century B.C. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010
Heavily cast, the sides encircled by three bands of fine abstract curl pattern bordered by narrow inlaid bands with raised edges, with a pair of taotie mask and loose ring handles on the shoulder and a band of pendent blades inlaid in copper below the mouth rim, with a further narrow inlaid band encircling the foot - 11½ in. (29.2 cm.) high. Est. $15,000 - 20,000. Sold $110,500£74,161 €83,082 to an Asian trade.
Provenance: Sotheby's, New York, 16 November 1971, lot 6.
Literature: J. So, Eastern Zhou Ritual Bronzes from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, 1995, pp. 278-83, no. 50.
A Rare Mottled Olive-Green Jade Hoof-Shaped Tubular Ornament, Neolithic Period, Hongshan Culture, circa 3500 B.C. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010
Probably a hair ornament, the walls of the oval tube flaring somewhat from the oblique lower edge to the upper edge which rises in a curved arch along one side, the semi-translucent stone with veins of black inclusions and veins of buff mottling showing mica-like inclusions, with a lustrous polish and some small surface adhesions - 5 3/8 in. (13.7 cm.) high. Estimate $20,000 - 30,000. Sold $92,500£62,080 €69,548 to an Asian Private.
Provenance: C.T. Loo & Co., New York.
Frank Caro, New York, acquired prior to 1977.
Exhibited: Exhibition of Chinese Arts, C.T. Loo & Co., New York, 1 November 1941 - 30 April 1942, no. 249.
An Exhibition of Chinese Archaic Jades, C.T. Loo & Co. at Norton Gallery of Art, West Palm Beach, Florida, 20 January - 1 March 1950, pl. XXXVII (3).
Notes: This distinct shape of jade has been labeled 'horse hoof' or mati by Chinese archaeologists excavating Hongshan cultural sites in Liaoning and northern Hebei provinces. The working of the jade tends to be thinner at the upper walls of the tube. They are now thought to be some kind of hair ornament, as they have been found under or next to the head of the occupants of Hongshan tombs. A photograph of Tomb 4 at Liaoning, Niuheliang, area 11, showing a hoof-shaped jade beneath the head of the deceased, is illustrated by J. Rawson, Chinese Jade from the Neolithic to the Qing, British Museum, 1995, p. 116, fig. 1. One of these ornaments from a tomb at Liaoning, which appears to be of similar color to the present piece, and which has two holes drilled on either side above the lower edge, is illustrated by Xiaoneng Yang, ed., in The Golden Age of Chinese Archaeology: Celebrated Discoveries from the People's Republic of China, National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1999, pp. 83-4, no. 11.
Two ornaments of this type in the Winthrop Collection, are illustrated by M. Loehr, Ancient Chinese Jades, Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, 1975, no. 323, a shorter version that has a similar scooped shape to the top rim and appears to be of similar stone, and no. 324, which has a more even upper edge. See, also, two others illustrated by Yang Boda in Chinese Archaic Jades from the Kwan Collection, Art Gallery, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, 1994, nos. 8 and 9, both of which have a similar upper edge.
A Rare Bronze Ritual Food Vessel, Fangding, Late Shang Dynasty, 12th-11th Century B.C. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010
The rectangular body raised on four columnar legs and cast on each side with a taotie mask divided by a narrow flange repeated at the corners and above to divide pairs of small dragons with hooked tails, all reserved on a leiwen ground highlighted by black inlay, with a pair of bail handles at each end of the rim, with an inscription cast on an interior wall, extensive encrustation with cloth and matting impressions - 8 in. (20.3 cm.) high. Estimate $30,000 - 40,000. Sold $92,500£62,080 €69,548 to an US private.
Provenance: Acquired prior to 1966.
Literature: R. Poor, Bronze Ritual Vessels of Ancient China, New York, 1968.
N. Barnard and Cheung Kwong-yue, Rubbings and Hand Copies of Bronze Inscriptions in Chinese, Japanese, European, American and Australasian Collections, Taipei, 1978, no. 1300 (inscription only).
R.W. Bagley, Shang Ritual Bronzes in the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, The Arthur M. Sackler Foundation, 1987, pp. 472-5, no. 88.
Notes: The inscription consists of three elements: the bottom is the stem gui written in its early form; the graph above is of uncertain meaning; and at the top are two figures kneeling either side of a ritual vessel toward which they reach. This latter graph may be read as qing or xiang. The two top graphs have been found on other bronzes and interpreted as a clan sign. See the variation of the inscription in a rubbing from a gui in the Avery Brundage Collection, Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, illustrated by R.W. Bagley, Shang Ritual Bronzes in the Arthur M. Sackler Collections, 1987, p. 474, fig. 88.1.
A Small Parcel-Gilt-Decorated Incised Bronze Bowl, Early Western Han Dynasty, 3rd Century B.C. Photo: Christie's Images Ltd., 2010
The exterior cast with three bow-string bands superimposed by two mask handles, the lower body, base, interior and everted rim incised with scrolling decoration and dogtooth bands retaining gilding; together with a small bronze stand, Han dynasty, raised on three bear supports, with circles cast atop the rim, and inlaid with a ring of now opaque ivory-colored material; and a small gilt-bronze ding and cover surmounted by three recumbent rams, Han dynasty - 6½, 5 5/8 and 6 in. (16.5, 14.3 and 15.2 cm.) across (3). Est. $6,000 - 8,000. Sold $86,500£58,053 €65,037 to an Asian Private.
Provenance: Parcel-gilt bowl: acquired prior to 1977.
Stand: A.W. Bahr Collection, Weybridge, 1963.
Gilt-bronze ding and cover: acquired prior to 1977.
Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art Including Property from the Arthur M. Sackler Collections. 26 March 2010. New York, Rockefeller Plaza www.christies.com