From Chinese Media

Sotheby's to auction 343 Chinese art pieces in London

Updated: 2011-05-06 11:26

By Zhang Haizhou and Zhang Chunyan (

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A total of 343 fine Chinese ceramics and art works, including an 800-year old vase and a Dragon seal used by Emperor Jiaqing (1796-1820), will go on auction on Wednesday at Sotheby's first London sales of 2011.

The auction house says every item in the sale has been "meticulously selected as an iconic example of it genre" and in total the auction is expected to realize in excess of 117 million yuan (11 million pounds).

Sotheby's to auction 343 Chinese art pieces in London
An important and rare 'Guanyao' Vase, Southern Song Dynasty, is estimated 2.5-3 million pounds. [Photo/] 
Most of the items on sale are antiques, with some of oldest pieces including a jade axe which dates back to the Neolithic period, which began in China around 10,000 BC and concluded with the introduction of metallurgy about 8,000 years later.

Fourteen of the 343 items are from a Japanese collection, including an "important and rare" 12th century 'Ice Crackle Guan' vase of Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279).

It is the first example of the archetypal 'Guan' style, from the official kilns of Hangzhou of east China to appear at auction and it is estimated between two to three million pounds. It is expected to be the most expensive item in the upcoming auction.

'Guan', the official ware of the Southern Song court, is perhaps the most admirable and desirable of all Chinese ceramics. The vase formed part of the collections of Chinese ceramics of the early 20th century.

"This vase came to Japan fairly recently," according to Sotheby's' catalogue.

"Chinese ceramics were imported to Japan ever since the Nara period (710-794) – in China in the Tang dynasty (618-907)". "The immense spectrum of Song ceramics – unrepeated in the history of Chinese ceramics – fascinated Japanese collectors."

Sotheby's will also offer for sale an imperial Khotan jade 'Dragon' Seal of the Jiaqing Emperor in Qing dynasty (1644-1911). Khotan in Xinjiang is famous for its high-quality nephrite jade, which is made up of tremolite.

The seal bears the inscription Jiaqing yubi zhibao, which may be translated as 'Treasure Inscribed in the Hand of the Jiaqing Emperor'.

Estimated at up to 1.5 million, it is expected to be the second most expensive item.

Apart from ceramics and jade articles, the upcoming auction will also include robes of Qing dynasty officials, paintings, antique bamboo carvings and wood furniture.

The auction house, however, did not respond to China Daily's questions by press time on whom the collectors are, how many bidders would be competing on Wednesday, and if any of them are from China.

Since Sotheby's held its first auction of Chinese art in London in 1922, sales today are held twice yearly in Hong Kong, New York, London and Paris, with an international team of specialists travelling the globe to bring to the market some of the greatest masterpieces of Chinese art.

There has been a rising interest in Chinese art pieces and antiques in the world auction market. A 300-year-old Chinese porcelain vase, made during Qianlong emperor's reign (1736-1796), was sold at 43 million pounds in an auction house in London in November.

In March 2007, Sotheby's sold in New York an extraordinary Shang dynasty bronze wine vessel from the Albright-Knox collection for $8,104,000, which shattered previous records of Chinese art sales in America.

In May 2008 in London, the spring sales series brought $32,550,000, more than three times its pre-sale estimate, a record for Sotheby's London.


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