When it comes to price, so-called chicken cups are far from being chickenfeed . . . as was made clear April 8 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong when a single cup fetched the equivalent of US$36.3m., exclusive of buyer’s premium. This set a new world record for a piece of Chinese ceramics. For avid and well-heeled collectors of Chinese ceramics, few pieces engender as much excitement as the small Ming dynasty-era bowls commonly known as “chicken cups.”
Paul Harris (extreme left), author of this post, pictured in 1956 at the Cartwright Memorial Hall Museum, Bradford, before a working model of a Victorian invention. Cutting/picture courtesy The Telegraph & Argus
It is hardly a challenge faced by museum curators in the West, where basement storerooms and dusty attics are crammed with a myriad of currently unfashionable exhibits: stuffed birds and preserved fish, oil paintings of morose Highland cattle, World War II gas masks, working models of minor 19th century inventions, and the like. Decades, if not hundreds of years, of collecting, and of dedicated collectors turned benefactors, have stuffed museums to bursting point. In continental Europe, the tides of war have tended to clear out the stockrooms on occasion, but in the UK, particularly, the stuff has built up and, occasionally, selections are made for some new thematic presentation. In the face of pressures of space and cash, acquisitions run at a relatively modest level.
Paintings by the Chinese Modernist master Huang Binhong are rarely offered at auction in London and fierce bidding is expected for a work to be offered at Chiswick Auctions on November 13 during Asian Art in London..
Included in the top 10 ranking artists sold at auction internationally, alongside Picasso, Warhol and Monet, for the first half of 2017; his painting Yellow Mountain sold for a record 345 million yuan (US$50.5 million) at China Guardian Auctions’ sale in Beijing (Artprice.com, Aug 2017).
Of course, if Chiswick were to knock down their offering, entitled simply Landscape, for a price in ths range then the sale would fit very nicely into their current expansion programme, which includes the estabishment of a central London showroom in the wake of the sudden closure of Chrsties South Kensington.
An internationally recognised master of 20th Century Chinese ink painting, prices for works by Huang Binhong have sky-rocketed in recent years and his reputation as a world-class modernist artist has been truly cemented.
His work innovatively combines Eastern traditions with influences from Impressionist and Modernist art, visible in his use of light and free brushwork.
The painting offered at Chiswick Auctions depicts the landscape of Xuancheng (宣城), a city in North East Anhui Province in China. The work was acquired by the present owner from the successful Chinese businessman Mr. David Lau (Lau Chi Man).
Chiswick Auctions is the only London saleroom to offer dedicated sales of Chinese Paintings.
Head of Asian Art, Lazarus Halstead, commented: “Since opening our Fine Chinese Paintings department there has been an overwhelming response from collectors wishing to consign and buy fine and rare works by Chinese artists.”
The November sale also includes works by 20th Century masters Qi Baishi, Pu Ru and the female artist Fang Zhaoling, as well as classical works attributed to Wang Jian and Ba Da Shan Ren.
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