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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Wu

My Latest Article - 'A Former ROM Imperial Treasure Resurfaces at Christie's Auction'!

Updated: Apr 21, 2021

My latest article just came out and can be found in the Fall 2019 issue of the Royal Ontario Museum's 'Friends of East Asia: Newsletter of the Bishop White Committee'!

Friends of East Asia All 2019

Published in the Fall and Spring, this newsletter reports on departmental news, upcoming events, and commentaries that deal with the ROM's East Asian department.

The Bishop White Committee was founded in 1960 by a group of museum volunteers led by Louise Hawley Stone (1904-1997) to support the ROM's Far Eastern department.

Named after Bishop William Charles White (1873-1960), the first curator of the ROM's East Asian Gallery, the group promotes the art of China, Japan and Korea by organizing lectures and events, acquiring new books and periodicals for the H. H. Mu Far Eastern Library, and raising funds for curators and new acquisitions.

My article on page six discusses a Large Chinese Imperial Polychrome 'Dragon' Lacquer Incense Stand I came across during one of my auction visits to Christie's Hong Kong last year (28 November 2018, lot 2922). Made during the late 17th to early 18th Century, this stand was probably commissioned for the Tanzhe Temple in West Beijing, a site frequently visited by the Emperors of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Raised on five slender legs, the stand has an elegant form and is carefully decorated with multiple dragons amongst clouds throughout. The rounded top is decorated with a large five-clawed dragon encircling a shou (longevity) character. The quality of the design and details is quite amazing! And only a few examples of this type of stand still survive today.

What really made me interested in this lacquer incense stand is its connection to the ROM. Between 1959-1982, the stand was on loan to the museum's collection. At that time, it belonged to Hertz 'Henry' Trubner (1920-1999), the ROM's curator of Far Eastern Art between 1958-1968. After Trubner left his post in Toronto for the Seattle Art Museum, the whereabouts of this stand was mostly unknown until it appeared at this Christie's auction.

Christie's conservatively estimated the incense stand with an auction estimate of HKD 4.8/5.5 million (approximately USD 620/700,000). There was much interest leading up to the sale from museums and furniture collectors, and in the end, it sold for an incredible HKD 5.62 million (approximately USD 720,000)!

For this article, I was fortunate enough that Christie's Hong Kong let me use their photographs of the lacquer incense stand. They are really stunning!

Profile view. ©Christie's Images Limited

Overall View. ©Christie's Images Limited

Top View. ©Christie's Images Limited

Please send me an email if you have any questions and would like a PDF version of the Fall 2019 BWC newsletter!

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