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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Wu

August/September Asian Art Updates - Boston trip & the record-setting 'Stanley Fields' bowl

Updated: Apr 21, 2021

Hope everyone had a wonderful summer! It's definitely been a while since my last blog... and if you haven't read it yet, it was an in-depth examination of the Chinese Imperial Yangcai 'Crane and Deer' Vase from the Qianlong Period (1736-1795) that Sotheby's found in an old green shoebox. This 'shoebox vase' sold for an incredible €16 million!

My summer ended up being fairly busy with various consulting projects and appraisal work. However, I did manage to visit Boston for a couple of days in August. In addition to eating too much seafood, I also spent much time at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the Harvard Art Museums.

The Boston MFA will always be one of my favourite museums and I love checking out their extensive Chinese porcelain collection. One of my first ever blog posts discusses the Helen and Paul Bernat Collection, which in my opinion, remains one of the greatest examples of 18th Century imperial wares ever assembled in North America.

This time around, I was taking a look at some of the other highlight objects including:

Chenghua Blue and White Palace Bowl

1. A Blue and White 'Palace' Bowl from the Chenghua Period (1465-1487) of the Ming Dynasty. Formerly from the collection of Charles B. Hoyt and donated to the museum in 1950, this is one of the rarest and most desirable examples of Imperial porcelain from the mid Ming Dynasty. These 'palace' bowls are renowned for their lyrical painting of florals and soft blue enamels.

Yuan Blue and White Dragon Charger

2. A Blue and White Dragon Charger, Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). This magnificent charger features a slip-decorated ferocious three-clawed dragon. Less than five examples of this type exists around the world, and they were probably exported to the Islamic market. This charger once belonged to a prominent Canadian family, and back in 2013, it was sold in Ottawa for a then-Canadian-Chinese-Art-record-price of just over CAD 1 million. This Yuan charger is currently on loan to the Boston MFA.

During my Boston trip, I also made my way up to Cambridge where I visited the Arthur M. Sackler Museum (now amalgamated with the Harvard Art Museums). The Chinese galleries still feature some of the most amazing ancient bronzes and jades in North America, and they also have a strong collection of Buddhist sculptures, Tibetan paintings and Chinese ceramics.

Some of the highlights include:

Early Buddhist Bronze Figures

3. A selection of early Chinese bronze Buddhist figures from the 4th to 10th Century.

Group of Song Ceramics

4. A selection of Chinese ceramics from the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

5. A Jun Glazed Lobed Flowerpot and Basin from the early 15th Century of the Ming Dynasty. Harvard is internationally known to have one of the largest collection of Jun flowerpots and basins. For hundreds of years, emperors, collectors and institutions have been enamoured with their unusual shapes, sizes and phosphatic glazes.

One of my most exciting projects this summer was working on a Chinese Ming Dynasty Blue and White Hexafoil Bowl from the Xuande Period (1426-1435). Titled the 'Stanley Field Early Ming Bowl', I was brought on by Leslie Hindman Auctioneers in Chicago to help with its authentication, marketing and research.

This bowl was originally owned by Chicago civic leader, businessman and museum president Stanley Field (1875-1964). He developed the Field Museum of Natural History and was nephew to the world famous entrepreneur Marshall Field (1834-1906). I have embedded some links where you can read my notes about the bowl's significance and history.

It was quite an incredible project and definitely one of the highlights of my career. After working many hours with the Asian Art specialist and her team at Leslie Hindman, the bowl sold at auction on September 17th for a record-setting price of just over USD 1.4 million. This was the highest price achieved for this type of of bowl outside of Hong Kong and China.

I've attached some photos of my examination of the 'Stanley Field Early Ming Bowl' when it made a one-day appearance to Asia Week New York on September 10th. It was a special preview for collectors and dealers who were interested in this particular object.

6. My careful examination of the 'Stanley Field Early Ming Bowl'.

7. A close-up detail of the bowls unusual hexafoil shape, floral and lotus designs, and intense use of cobalt blue.

8. Detail of the bowl's reverse and reign mark 大明宣德年製 (daming Xuande nianzhi) , 'made in the year of the Xuande Reign of the Ming Dynasty' (1426-1435).

In other news, my latest Chinese Works of Art and Paintings market trend report has been published! You can find it in the September/October issue of Orientations Magazine, available now at most international museum bookstores.

In my article, I go through a number of exciting highlights in the categories of ceramics, jades, paintings, and religious objects from the Spring 2018 auction season at Bonhams, Christie’s and Sotheby’s. On the cover is a detail of tiger on a large sliding door screen by Japanese artist Nagasawa Rosetu (1754-1799).

Finally my Instagram account @anthonywuart has now hit over 1100 followers! Thank you for all of you who have been reading and 'liking' my posts. (I guess I probably should have mentioned something when I hit 1000 followers, but that's not a big deal). If you are using Instagram please follow me so that you can keep track of all my Asian Art adventures including visits to auction previews and museums, and the odd food pic.

My blogs are also gaining a little more recognition over the internet. Just recently, the founder of the online blog database has contacted me to say that my blogs have been in the top 10 searches for Asian Art. Amazing!

That's it for this edition and hopefully I will be back on track with my blogging in the coming weeks! I'll be on the road quite a lot from now until mid November. I am currently in Hong Kong for the auction previews, and over the next two months I will be visiting Vancouver, New York and London for various auctions and valuation and appraisal projects.

At the moment, I am still mostly advising on Chinese porcelain, jades carvings, furniture and paintings, but I have been working on few projects dealing with Buddhist sculptures and Japanese artworks as well. Please feel free to send me an email if you have any questions or comments.

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