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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Wu

Excellent Results for Chinese Paintings @Heffel's Spring 2024 Asian Art Auction!

Updated: Jul 6

The April 2024 edition of my Heffel Asian art online sale was a great success and I'd like to thank all those who were involved once more - from the buyers, bidders, consignors and all my wonderful colleagues in the Heffel galleries in Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Ottawa.

I've collaborated with Heffel, Canada's national auction house, for over three years now and the offerings from the Asian art department have grown in quality and recognition since our humble beginnings during the pandemic.

This past auction saw the 125 carefully selected pieces realize just over CAD $585,000 with competitive bidding from Canada, the USA, Austria, the United Kingdom, Spain, Switzerland, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea. 

Running from April 4th to 25th across Heffel's Toronto and Vancouver galleries, the categories that performed well included traditional and modern Chinese paintings, white jade carvings, ceramics, Buddhist artwork and Japanese woodblock prints. These items tend to have good provenance, were fresh to the market, and featured conservative starting bids.

Session 1 of the Asian art online series at Heffel comprised of Chinese classical and 20th Century modern paintings. The majority of the highlights came from the estate of Wang Yiling (Wong Ngai-Ling) (1881 - c.1955), a banker and art collector who had business ties to Beijing, Tianjin, Hankou, and Hong Kong. The fourteen works presented at this auction were bequeathed to a descendent in Vancouver, and were kept hidden away from the public for over 50 years.

The paintings from the estate included fan paintings with names of renowned masters from the Ming and Qing dynasties, as well as works by eminent 20th Century painters like Chen Banding (1876-1970) and Zhang Daqian (1899-1983).

Fan painting attributed to Wang Shimin at Heffel Gallery in 2024

Image 1. One of the surprises of the Heffel sale from the Estate of Wang Yiling was a fan painting titled 'Mountainous Landscape' attributed to Wang Shimin (1592-1680). It depicts houses beside an idyllic lakeside view with mountains in the background. The estimate was conservative at $4,000-$6,000 and with a lot of international interest, realized CAD $ 43,250.

Zhang Daqian painting at Heffel Gallery in 2024

Image 2a. One of the most hyped paintings from the Estate of Wang Yiling was this wonderful painting 'Scholars on the Cliff' by Zhang Daqian. Dated to 1949, this painting was given and dedicated to Wang Yiling in Macau by the artist himself.

Paintings by Zhang Daqian rarely appear in the Canadian market, and this one was unusual because of the large number of figures featured at the top of the artists's favourite mountain, Huangshan.

With the work's incredible provenance and rare subject matter, the painting sold for CAD $79,250 against an estimate of $40,000-$60,000.

Anthony Wu examining a Zhang Daqian painting at the Heffel Gallery in Vancouver in 2024

Image 2b. Here's a photo of myself admiring Zhang Daqian's 'Scholars on the Cliff' at the Heffel Vancouver gallery. The painting was on a mini tour with a stops in Vancouver and Toronto so that in can be showcased to potential clients across the country.

Large Chinese Ming Dynasty Longquan celadon dish at Heffel Gallery in 2024

Image 3a. Session 2 of the Heffel Asian art online sale featured Chinese ceramics and porcelain. A major surprise was this large Chinese celadon glazed stoneware shallow dish dated to the mid Ming Dynasty that was estimated at CAD $2,000-$4,000.

Despite being attractive with its central coin diaper ground and band of lotus along the rim, these types of dishes from the Longquan kilns are not uncommon. However, this particular example caused much excitement amongst numerous international collectors - the reason being there were Arabic marks inscribed to the dish's base.

These marks suggest that the dish once belonged to Mir Muhammad Baqir, a Mughal politician who was made Prime Minister in 1628 and died in 1649. He was known to collect Chinese ceramics and parts of his collection have been scattered throughout the Maritime Silk Road. There is a similar example in the British Museum in London.

After an extended 25 minute online bidding battle, this dish sold for CAD $31,250.

Arabic script incised into a Chinese Ming Dynasty Longquan celadon dish at Heffel Gallery in 2024

Image 3b. The incised Arabic inscription on the base of this rare Longquan celadon dish.

Pair of Chinese White Jade dishes at Heffel Gallery in 2024

Image 4. In the Chinese jade category of the Heffel online sale was a very fine pair of white jade carved dishes dated to the 18th/19th Century. These pieces came from an important Vancouver collection who purchased them from prestigious London dealer William Clayton on September 21, 1976.

The tone of the jade was an exceptional even white, and the surfaces were highly polished. These jade dishes were estimated at CAD $30,000-$50,000 and ended up realizing CAD 31,250.

Chinese Ming Dynasty gilt bronze seated figure of Buddha Shakyamuni at Heffel Gallery in 2024

Image 5a. Session three of the Heffel sale featured general Asian works of art from China, Japan, Korea and the Himalayan region. Here, you can find one of the best Buddhist sculptures I have recently come across in Canada - a gorgeous Chinese gilt bronze seated figure of Buddha Shakyamuni.

This figure of the historical Buddha was manufactured during the late Ming Dynasty, and sourced from a Montreal family who owned it since the early 1980's. There are fine details thhoughout with the right hand in bhumisparsha mudra (earth witness gesture) and dhyana mudra (meditation). The serene face and slight smile adds to the figure's sense of grace and compassion.

This figure Buddha Shakyamuni sold for CAD 40,250 against an estimate of CAD $20,000-$30,000.

Chinese Ming Dynasty gilt bronze seated figure of Buddha Shakyamuni at Heffel Gallery in 2024

Image 5b. A view of the gilt bronze figure of Buddha Shakyamuni flanked by two Nepalese votive panels and in front of three modern Chinese scroll paintings at the Heffel gallery in Toronto.

Katsushika Hokusai's Gotenyama at Shinagawa at Heffel Gallery in 2024

Image 6. The Heffel Asian art online sale also covered numerous Japanese artwork including woodblock prints, paintings, netsuke, and inro. The most sought after piece was 'Fuji from Gotenyama at Shinagawa on the Tokaido' by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849).

This woodblock print is one of the ten supplementary views of Hokusai's seminal series, the 'Thirty-Six Views of Mount Fuji'. The print was once part of the renowned collection of Toronto's R. A. Laidlaw and then passed down through his descendents. From this collection I previously sold two other major Hokusai woodblock prints at Heffel including 'The Great Wave Off Kanagawa' for CAD $691,250 and 'Fine Wind Clear Weather (aka Red Fuji)' for CAD $67,250.

This particular view Gotenyama attracted much international interest and exceeded the initial auction estimate of CAD $4,000-$6,000 by selling for an incredible CAD $37,250.

Kawase Hasui's Hasui's Nikkō Chuzenji Lake, Utagahama at Heffel Gallery in 2024

Image 7. And finally a woodblock print by Kawase Hasui (1883-1967)! If you have been following my blogs over the years, you will know my profound love for shin hanga (new wave) prints by Hasui. To me, his views create a sense of nostalgia for a Japan that was transforming from a traditional to modern society during the first half of the 20th Century.

Here we have Hasui's view of Nikkō Chuzenji Lake, Utagahama from 1931. This lake is part of Nikkō National Park, mostly notable for its wildlife, forests, lakes and Buddhist and Shinto shrines. In this image we see two pilgrims walking towards a red Torri gate, while in the background, a group of casually dressed tourists are enjoying a scenic boat ride.

Despite being laid down on a piece of board and some areas of staining, this beautiful view of Nikkō by Hasui sold for CAD $4,063 against an estimate of $1,500-$2,500.

Thank you for reading this post and I will keep you up to date about my next Heffel Asian art online sale. At the moment it is scheduled for October 3rd-31st and I will start traveling across Canada to source for consignments in the coming months. If you need your Asian art examined, please let me know!

In the meantime, I will be traveling to London for the Spring Asian Art in London events in mid May, followed by a trip to Hong Kong at the end of the month for the major auctions at Christie's. You can see my more recent travels through my Instagram feed @anthonywuart.


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