• Anthony Wu

Summer Cataloguing of Asian Art @Heffel Auctions

Updated: Sep 12

I hope everyone is having a nice summer! For me, the summer months are always busy as I am preparing for the upcoming fall Asian art season. I've already made appraisal trips to New York and Vancouver, and have impending trips to Chicago, Montreal and Ottawa. Hopefully I'll still be able to take a quick vacation!


In the meantime, I've also been sourcing Asian artwork for Heffel's next October Asian Art online auction. The last sale I put together for Heffel in April went quite well, and included the record-breaking sale of Hokusai's iconic 'Great Wave off Kanagawa'.


This Japanese woodblock print was consigned by descendants of Toronto's Laidlaw family and sold for just under CAD 700,000 including buyer's premium, thus setting a record for a Japanese artwork in Canada. If you haven't had the chance yet, you can read about it in a previous blog.


For this upcoming Asian art auction, there will still be a strong emphasis on Japanese woodblock prints featuring Part II of this Laidlaw Collection. In addition to Japanese works of art, other regions like China, Tibet and India will also be well-represented.


Here are some of the highlights that I have been working on for the next Heffel auction:


Ando Hiroshige Sudden Rain Shower Woodblock Print

Image 1. One of the main highlights from the aforementioned Part II of the Laidlaw Collection is Ando Hiroshige's (1797-1858) masterpiece 'Sudden Shower over Shin-Ōhashi Bridge and Atake. This print was published around 1857 and was part of the artist's famous series 'One Hundred Famous Places of Edo'.


'Sudden Shower' is one of the epitomes of woodblock prints from the Ukiyo-e (floating world) School because it showcases a snapshot into Japanese society during the 18th and 19th Centuries. This view was extremely popular to a Western audience, and even Vincent van Gogh had an original copy!


Toshi Yoshida Peggy's Cove Woodblock Print

Image 2. Another woodblock print from the upcoming Asian art auction at Heffel is this gorgeous shin-hanga (new wave) woodblock print by Toshi Yoshida (1911-1995). Unlike ukiyo-e woodblock prints which often have a stylized graphic look to them, shin hanga prints of the 20th Century used more of a Western perspective and shading.


This print is definitely one of my favourite pieces of the artist's repertoire since it depicts Peggy's Cove, one of Canada's most famous landmarks. Peggy's Cove is a small fishing village on the southern tip of the maritime province Halifax, and known for its colourful houses and red and white lighthouse. Toshi Yoshida captured the essence of this village quite beautifully.


Pair of Japanese Arita Puppies, circa 1800

Image 3. Staying in Japan, I was able to source a cute pair of puppies from a Toronto collection. These are early porcelain examples from the Arita area, and were made in the late 18th Century of the Edo Period.


Early Japanese porcelain pieces like these are extremely rare to find in Canada. Initially, they would have been exported to the USA or Europe, with most existing examples now located in museums around the world.


Tibetan Thangka of Green Tara

Image 4. As many of you know, I really love Buddhist art! But over the last few years, quality pieces from the regions of the Himalayas (which includes Nepal and Tibet), have been really difficult to find.


This summer, I was very lucky to source this thangka (Tibetan painting) from an Ottawa Collection. Dated to the 18th/19th Century, it depicts the female Buddhist deity Green Tara, a protector for women and symbol for love, compassion and liberation. These types of paintings would have been rolled up until it was required for display.


Tibetan Gilt Bronze Seated Figure of Amitayus

Image 5. Another great find the same Ottawa collection is this 17th/18th Century Tibetan gilt bronze figure of Amitayus. Amitayus is one of the more popular Buddhist deities and depending on the context, represents 'infinite light' or 'infinite life'.


This particular example has a very good size and amazing details in the cloak and dripping jewelry. He is sitting in the pose of meditation, and the face is also stunning to exude veneration. The hands would have been holding onto a miniature stupa (Buddhist reliquary container) which I now missing.


Indian Kangra School Miniature of the Dejected Prince

Image 7. I really don't talk enough about Indian art, but in addition to the region's Buddhist and Hindu sculpture, I do love miniature paintings.


This particular painting dates to circa 1800 and is from the Kangra School of North India. It comes from the collection of an Important Toronto Collector who has amassed Indian and Tibetan art for over 40 years.


Kangra School images are known for their bold figures, soft colour palette and fine detailing. This is a scene of a dejected prince who has been scorned by a woman, but for some reason she still kept the flower that was given to her. Maybe the prince still has a chance!


Chinese White Jade Pendant, 18th Century

Image 8. Finally some Chinese artwork! Chinese art is still doing quite well in the current Asian art market. In particular, mark and period porcelain, jade carvings, furniture, and scroll paintings are extremely sought after by collectors and museums.


This image shows a stunning white jade pendant I found in Victoria, British Columbia, and it has been owned by the same collector since the 1980's. It expertly depicts a noble lady holding a lotus flower and should be dated to the Qianlong Period (1736-1795). The quality of the stone is very high in its pure white tone and thickness. Even a simple jade carving such as this would have taken weeks upon weeks to produce.


Chinese Red Ground Silk Embroidered Dragon Robe

Image 9. And lastly, one of the Chinese art pieces that I am researching is this Chinese red ground silk embroidered dragon robe from the mid to late 19th Century.


It was passed down from a Canadian family who has had it for over 100 years. The colour of the robe is pretty much perfect and the details in the dragons are simply stunning. The family stated the robe was pretty much kept in a box since it was acquired, so that's why the condition is so good.


Hopefully I'll be able to show more of the upcoming Heffel Asian art auction in the coming months! It should be a good sale and a lot of the items are fresh to the market. If you have time, please stop by the Heffel galleries in Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal to view the previews.


Also, please keep checking in with my website and Instagram to stay current with my Asian art adventures! Enjoy the rest of the summer!

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