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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Wu

Attractive Chinese Cat Pillow @Eskenazi and other Highlights During Asian Art in London 2023!

Updated: Apr 7

I just got back home from another round of Asian Art in London! London is definitely one of my favourite places to visit and it gets even better when there's so many Asian artworks to view around the city!


As usual, I took off from my home base in Toronto after upon completion of my latest October Heffel Asian art online (you can read about it here).


This year's Asian Art in London events featured many exciting exhibitions at the dealer galleries. There were also a great selection of Buddhist sculptures and porcelain pieces from the larger auction houses like Sotheby's, Christie's and Bonhams, and also the regional auction houses including Dore & Rees, Rosebery's and Woolley & Wallis.


It was definitely a worthwhile trip and I hope to visit London again during the May 2024 edition of Asian Art in London!

Chinese Cizhou slip-decorated cat pillow at Eskenazi London

Image 1a. To start off this blog is one of my necessary and favourite stops during trips to London. Located at their iconic address of 10 Clifford Street is Eskenazi, one of the most prestigious dealers in Chinese art for the past 50 years.


I have been collecting their catalogues and have amassed over thirty of them over the last decade. In addition to being valuable research books, they also look very impressive in your library!


Their exhibition this season was titled 'Chinese Ceramics, Lacquer and Gold from the 12th to the 14th Century'. The most important (and cutest) piece from the show was this Chinese Cizhou slip-decorated cat pillow from the Late Song to Jin Dynasty (12th-13th Century).


The well-modelled cat with its large ribbon looks surprised while trying to play with a butterfly. This pillow was extensively published and recently part of London's renowned The Oriental Ceramic Society's centenary exhibition in 2021.


Eskenazi Gallery for Chinese Art at 10 Clifford Street in London

Image 1b. A view of the Eskenazi gallery in Mayfair. There is a large banner of the Chinese cat pillow by the front window.


Chinese gilt bronze figure of Avalokiteshvara from the Dali Kingdom, Yunnan Province, on view at Sotheby's London

Image 2. Just up the street from Eskenazi was the Sotheby's London showroom. Here I was able to see some of the major highlights including this fantastic and ultra rare Chinese gilt bronze figure of Avalokiteshvara.


This figure of the Buddhist deity of compassion was estimated at GBP 200/300,000 and consigned by an Italian collector. The origin of this figure is from the mysterious Dali Kingdom in Yunnan province in southwestern China. Contemporary to the late Song Dynasty, little is known about this civilization except for their prized Buddhist sculptures.


Here we see the deity unilike other manifestations. He has four arms, in which one of them yields a sword that is stabbing downwards into the gaping mouth of a demon. This figure ended up selling for GBP 952,500 (approximately CAD 1.62 million).


Chinese Daoguang Ruby Red Medallion Bowl at Sotheby's London

Image 3a. Also at Sotheby's a was a selection of Chinese famille rose medallion bowls from the Daoguang period (1821-1850). Hopefully you can see the colour here, but this is a rare ruby red example. In addition to ruby red, these bowls come in a wide variety of colours like lavender blue, lemon yellow and rose pink.

According to one of my mentors, you could have purchased stacks of these types of bowls in Hong Kong at around 50 USD each back in the 1960's. Now they are considered imperial pieces of the Daoguang reign and quite desirable in the current market.


This particular example has the rare scene of the '100 antiques' within its four medallions. Other scenes for these bowls include landscapes, goats, figures and florals. This bowl was estimated at GBP 10/15,000 and sold for GBP 50,800 (approximately CAD 86,000).


Reign Mark of Chinese Daoguang Ruby Red Medallion Bowl at Sotheby's London

Image 3b. A view of the bowl's base and its six-character reign mark 大清道光年製 which translates to 'made in the Daoguang reign of the Qing Dynasty'.


Chinese Daoguang Rose Pink Medallion Bowl at Sotheby's London

Image 4a. Here is another example of these Daoguang famille rose medallion bowls at Sotheby's. This one has a pink colour and depicts florals within its medallions. At Sotheby's, there were six of these types of bowls on view.


This pink bowl was also estimated at GBP 10/15,000, and like the ruby red bowl, sold for GBP 50,800 (approximately CAD 86,000).


Reign Mark of Chinese Daoguang Ruby Red Medallion Bowl at Sotheby's London

Image 4b. A view of the pink bowl's base and its six-character reign mark 大清道光年製 which translates to 'made in the Daoguang reign of the Qing Dynasty'.


Anthony Wu examining a Chinese Zhengde Ming Dynasty Gardenia Porcelain Dish at Christie's London

Image 5a. Over at Christie's London gallery on King Street were some highlights from their upcoming Paris 'Arts d' Asie' December auction. I really enjoyed examining two rare Chinese Ming Dynasty porcelain dishes (with my Starbucks cup in the background).


Here I am holding a yellow ground blue and white 'gardenia' dish from the Zhengde reign (1506-1521). This dish was estimated at EUR 30/50,000. (Note: on 12 December 2023 this dish realized a price of EUR 52,920, approximately CAD 77,000).


A Chinese Ming Dynasty Gardenia Dish from the Xuande Period at Christie's London to be sold in Paris

Image 5b. The other Ming Dynasty dish I was able to examine at Christie's London was this EXCEPTIONALLY rare brown and white 'gardenia' dish from the Xuande period (1426-1435).


Very few examples of this dish with the brown and white colour combination exist, and this is my first time handling such an example. The estimate was a very conservative EUR 50/70,000. (Note: on 12 December 2023 this dish realized a price of EUR 718,200, approximately CAD 1.05 million).


Reign Mark of a Chinese Ming Dynasty Gardenia Dish from the Xuande Period at Christie's London to be sold in Paris

Image 5c. A view of the bowl's base and its six-character reign mark 大清宣德年製 which translates to 'made in the Xuande reign of the Ming Dynasty'.


A Chinese Kangxi Period Blue and White Brushpot from the Sam Marsh Collection at Bonhams London

Image 6a. Back on Bond Street, I had a great time viewing all the Chinese porcelain from the Marsh Collection. The highlight was definitely this exceedingly rare blue and white 'virtuous officials' brushpot with Kangxi Mark and of the period (1644-1722).


In addition to the carefully written calligraphy, there is a very rare seal mark painted in copper red along the bottom edge stating this is an 'antique to be handed down from our glorious dynasty'.


This was definitely one of the few brushpots that can be deemed as an imperial object commissioned by the Kangxi Emperor himself. Even with a high estimate of GBP 250/350,000, the final price was an astonishing GBP 406,800 (approximately CAD 700,000).


Reign Mark of a Chinese Kangxi Period Blue and White Brushpot from the Sam Marsh Collection at Bonhams London

Image 6b. A view of the brushpot's base and its six-character reign mark 大清康熙年製 which translates to 'made in the Kangxi reign of the Qing Dynasty'. You can also see the old Sotheby's provenance sticker which reads Sotheby's Hong Kong, 30 April 1996, lot 457.


A Chinese Kangxi Famille Verte Wucai Brushpot from the Anthony Lovett Collection at Dore and Rees Auction House

Image 7. Another Chinese porcelain brushpot I really liked during Asian Art in London was from the Anthony Lovett Collection at the regional auction house Dore & Rees.


I had the pleasure of having dinner with Anthony Lovett and the house's Chinese art team before their sale, and I could tell he was an incredibly passionate collector. It was also a bittersweet moment for him to sell off his amazing collection of 17th and 18th Century Chinese porcelain that he acquired over the past thirty years.


The star of Anthony Lovett's collection was this well-painted famille verte brushpot from the Kangxi Period (1644-1722). It features a story of Wang Taigong of the Shang Dynasty, a sage who feigns madness so that he doesn't have to follow orders from a tyrannical king. The figures are all wonderfully painted and this brushpot ended up with a hammer price of GBP 83,000 (approximately CAD 141,000).


A Chinese Kangxi Blue and White Trigram Cup from Rosebery's London

Image 8a. One of my favourite pieces during Asian Art in London was this Chinese blue and white bowl with Kangxi mark and of the period (1664-1722) that was exhibited at Rosebery's. The cup had the delightful design of the Daoist trigrams above well-detailed crashing waves.


There were some repairs to this piece but it still realized GBP 15,744 (approximately CAD 27,000) against an estimate of GBP 8/12,000.


Reign Mark of a Chinese Kangxi Blue and White Trigram Cup from Rosebery's London

Image 8b. A view of the blue and white bowl's base and its six-character reign mark 大清康熙年製 which translates to 'made in the Kangxi reign of the Qing Dynasty'. You can also see a partial Bluett London provenance label.


Eastern Indian gilt bronze figure of Mahasri Tara at Woolley and Wallis Auction House

Image 9a. Finally one of the impressive Buddhist pieces during this London trip was a small Eastern Indian gilt bronze figure of Mahasri Tara. This figure was dated to the 12th Century and one of the highlight pieces at Woolley & Wallis.


Tara is a Buddhist female protector and always depicted as a youthful female. This particular example is extremely well-detailed with all the jewelled elements, lotus base, and attendant figures. The tara is full of movement and grace. She was estimated at GBP 60/80,000 and sold for GBP 478,000 (approximately CAD 818,000).


Base of an Eastern Indian gilt bronze figure of Mahasri Tara at Woolley and Wallis Auction House

Image 9b. A view of the bronze tara sculpture's base.


Thank you for reading my latest blog and I hope you enjoyed it! I'm always on the move these days and the next stop for me is New York City for the Appraisers Association of America's National Conference.


I have been a certified appraiser in Chinese Fine Art through the 'AAA' since 2017, but it was pre-pandemic when I last made it down for one of their big conferences. These two-day events are great for seeing old colleagues and learning new trends in the appraisal world.


After this New York trip, I will be going to Hong Kong to view the major sales at Christie's, which again is a first since the pandemic. Stay tuned and please follow me on my Instagram @anthonywuart.

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