Art Collecting

A Rare Furniture Raised $56.6 Million To Surpass Poly Auction Beijing’s Spring Sales | Auctions News | THE VALUE | Pro Club Bd

Last week, Poly Auction Beijing held its spring sales.

For five consecutive days, all departments together achieved a total turnover of 1,754 million RMB (about 259 million US dollars). The most expensive lot came from the Chinese ceramics and artifacts section, go to one huanghuali Smoking table with drawer board, which brought in 41.9 million RMB (about 6.2 million US dollars).

In their Chinese art auction a pair of Imperials Zitan Qianlong period (1736-1795) cabinets and a 17th-century Mongolian gilded bronze Vajradhara Buddha realized more than 20 million RMB (about 2.9 million US dollars). They were the second and third most valuable lots.

Lot 5563 | Xiang Yuanbian style Huanghuali incense table inlaid with marble and drawer board

Emerged during the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)

  • Important private collection in Suzhou

Estimate: RMB 8,000,000-12,000,000
Sold: RMB 41,975,000 (about US$6.2 million)

The lot, which started at RMB 7.6 million, attracted 49 bids and realized a knockdown price of RMB 36.5 million, more than five times the low estimate of RMB 8 million before the sale. It ended up grossing 41.9 million RMB (around US$6.2 million).

Except for his material huanghuali Wood, another highlight of the table is the marble, which looks like a landscape painting made of natural stone. The dark green pattern mimics the undulating mountains against a cloudy haze. Inlaid with marble, accompanied by a drawer board, there are no other published specimens huanghuali Example similar to the present lot.

The inlaid marble

Five seals can be found on the incense table – one unrecognized, possibly from its collector; four from its owner, Xiang Yuanbian (1525 – 1590), a distinguished connoisseur and collector of the late Ming Dynasty. Coming from a wealthy family, Xiang Yuanbian amassed a magnificent collection of paintings, calligraphy, jade and toys – considered unsurpassed at the time.

Today, his sigils can still be found on many of the surviving Upper Scrolls, and some of his collections have been passed down to this day. However, only three examples of his furniture are known – a marble drawing board, the whereabouts of which are unknown; a huanghuali Lacquer-coated desk, now preserved by a Chinese collector; and the present lot.

One of the four seals
One of the four seals

Lot 5562 | Pair of high relief red sandalwood wall cabinets

Created during the Qianlong period (1736-1795)
210.5 x 101 x 55.8 cm

  • Ledongping Collection by Tongrentang
  • Ancient collection of the Beijing Cultural Relics Company
  • Old collections of important private collectors
  • Hanhai auction, Beijing, June 26, 2006, antique curiosities, lot 2501
  • Poly auction Beijing, December 3, 2014, lot 5623

Estimate: RMB 12,000,000 – 22,000,000
Sold: RMB 20,700,000 (about 3 million US dollars)

The lot was last auctioned at Poly Auction Beijing in 2014, when it was sold for 22.4 million RMB (about US$3.3 million). This time, his performance was a little sluggish, grossing 20.7 million RMB (around US$3 million).

Massive in size, the present pair represents luxurious usage Zitanone of the rarest and most valuable woods in the world. Zitan Wood is characterized by its rhinoceros horn-like color and turns purple-black after prolonged exposure to air. It was used as a material for household items and furniture during the Ming and Qing dynasties, but this practice gradually faded in the late Qing period due to its scarcity.

Zitan Wood grows slowly and takes centuries to fully mature into usable material. Historical, Zitan was mainly grown in India and Southeast Asia, with a limited amount available in China.

With a jade-like, silky texture, fine grain and subtle aroma, Zitan became Emperor Qianlong’s favorite type of wood and he spared no expense in acquiring it. As an imported commodity, its use was meticulously controlled and carefully restricted, and only accessible by imperial decree to the master craftsmen in the imperial workshops.

Cabinets of this type were usually constructed in pairs and could be placed against opposite walls, flush with each other, or separated by a smaller piece of furniture. Composite cabinets should serve as the central focal point of the interior space due to their impressive size.

The density of Zitan Wood makes this material particularly suitable for fine and intricate carving. A piece of imperial furniture, the present pair demonstrates the high standard of workmanship achieved at court – exquisitely carved with Chinese auspicious motifs, including dragons and twin fish.

Lot 5661 | Gilt bronze Vajradhara Buddha with consort | Mongolia

Created during the 17th century
Height: 36.5cm

  • Important Asian private collection

Estimate: RMB 10,000,000 – 15,000,000
Sold: RMB 20,125,000 (about US$2.9 million)

This sculpture was created in Mongolia during the 17th century under the direction of Zanabazar, who was one of the most influential figures in Mongolian Buddhist history. He was the first Bogd Geena 17Head of State and Faith of the . As an intellectual leader, he was known for leading the nation into a cultural renaissance and as the founder of the Mongolian style of sculpture.

This main Buddha sculpture wears a five-petalled crown, a pumpkin-shaped high bun on top of the head, a large shell-shaped bead on top of the bun, and the rest of the hair is braided and falls down on both shoulders. With a serious and benevolent demeanor, his face is round while his eyes are downcast. Looking further down, the Buddha has broad shoulders and a broad waist, as well as a strong body and limbs. The torso, dressed in a monk’s shawl, is adorned with a string of pearls and the shoulders are covered with silk.

This present Buddha is depicted in a close embrace with his consort

Vajrasattva Shakri, late 17th/early 18th century, Gilt copper alloy with painted details, Height: 25 cm | Rossi & Rossi

Facing the Buddha, the consort crosses her legs around the waist of the enlightened being and her hands are behind his neck. Adorned with earrings, bracelets and draperies – similar to the main sculpture – the consort’s torso is bare and her breasts are sculpted into a compressed state. The main Buddha sculpture and his consort are tightly embraced by the technique of integral casting and fully integrated into one whole, which is rare in twin sculptures in other regions and styles.

Several other Mongolian-style double statues are known – such as the bronze and gilded Vajradhara sculpture handcrafted by Zanabazar in 1683 and kept at Tengyeling Monastery in Mongolia; and the gilded copper alloy Sculpture of Vajrasattva Shakti, collected by the well-known British art dealer Rossi & Rossi.

Zanabanzar Self-Portrait, late 17th or early 18th century, mineral pigments on cotton, 64 x 47 cm | Fine Arts Museum, Ulaanbaatar

Summary of the auction:
Auction house: Poly Auction Beijing
Offer: Spring offers
Date: July 25 – 29, 2022
Sales amount: 1,754 million RMB (about 259 million US dollars)

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