The last few weeks have been busy in the Toronto Art market. With sales of Canadian, Inuit and Asian Art, it was a great opportunity to see what’s happening in these respective fields.
I was also (finally) able to send off my latest contribution to Orientations Magazine in Hong Kong. It is a commentary on whether or not Asian Art museums should be displaying items that correlate to ‘big-ticket’ sales in the current auction market.
I used three Imperial porcelain examples from the Royal Ontario Museum’s storage to list out some of the pros and cons. As you know, not every object in a museum can be displayed, and many ‘highlights’ are stored away from the public. This article will be out in the Jan/Feb 2017 issue and I’ll go more in depth once it is officially published.
Finally in mid-November, I took a two-day road trip to Manheim, Pennsylvania (approximately two hours west of Philadelphia) to examine a collection of late Ming blue and white porcelain up for sale. All of these came from a single-owner estate, and despite the seven (!) hour drive to get there, it was well worth the effort.
These porcelain wares were all purchased from Sotheby’s and Christie’s New York from 1997 to 2000, and were accompanied by their original auction receipts. I have attached photos of a selection below.
1. A Large Blue and White Porcelain Figural Charger, Ming Dynasty, Wanli Mark and Period (1573-1620)
Diameter 12 inches
Previously purchased from Christie's New York, September 16, 1998, lot 366
A very rare and attractive charger decorated with a central Doaist deity and attendant greeting three figures. The border is decorated with a band of typical late Ming dragons and phoenixes.
2. A Blue and White Dragon Jar, Ming Dynasty, Wanli Mark and Period (1573-1620)
Height 5.25 inches
Previously purchased from Christie's New York,'The Jingguantang Collection Part II', March 20, 1997, lot 87
The jar features a very elegant pair of dragons chasing the flaming pearl of wisdom above a a band of ocean waves. I really like the different variations of cobalt blue throughout the porcelain body, especially those found on the jar's 'lotus and scrolling vine' decorated shoulder.
3. A Large and Blue and White 'Shou-Character' Jar, Ming Dynasty Wanli Mark and Period (1573-1620)
Height 9.25 inches
Previously purchased from Christie's New York, September 16, 1998, lot March 20, 1997, lot 365
A large and heavily potted jar, each of the four sides decorated with a stylized 'shou' (longevity) character in the form of a tree. The cobalt blues feature different intensities making the design very pleasing to the eye. This vase was formerly owned by the great Hong Kong collector T. T. Tsui, an important businessman and museum benefactor.
4. A Large Ming-Style Blue and White Bowl, Qing Dynasty, Yongzheng Mark and Period (1722-1735)
Diameter 10.25 inches
Previously purchased from Christie's New York, September 16, 1999, lot 325
Not late Ming, but an extremely unusual bowl for the Yongzheng period. Qing Dynasty Ming-Style bowls are seldom of this large size. The design of lotus blooms and leafy tendrils are typical patterns from the 15th and 16th Century, and the varying intensities of the cobalt blue is mimicking the 'heaping and piling' effect of Ming blue and whites.