NORWOOD, MASS. — A strong selection of Asian art and antiques were offered at Altair Auctions’ December 15–16 event. Well over 1,000 lots filled the two-day sale with robust prices established from the beginning of the sale. Bringing in just under $3 million, the sale boasted a crowded auction gallery with Internet and phone bidders participating from around the world.
The sale was led by the imperial jade-hilted ceremonial saber and scabbard, which set a record high for the auction house, when it sold for $1,416,000. The saber was of the Qianlong period, intricately carved in relief, with gilding and two free cast dragons.
The saber’s steel blade was decorated with inlaid gold, silver and copper wire, with one side showing the two-character name Ge Zhi (meaning “stopping war”) and the five-character inventory number Tian zi shi er hao (imperial number 12.) The reverse showed a cartouche of a wise man holding a lance among clouds, depicting the saber’s name, and the Qianlong four-character mark in silver. The saber is from a private collector on the West Coast.
Two bronze pieces at the auction also saw high prices. A gilt-bronze seated Buddha from the Ming period, estimated at $20/30,000, sold for $53,100. The second highest-grossing lot in the sale was a Qing period gilt-bronze jardinière cast in relief with a pair of matching dragons from a Vancouver, Canada, collector that attained $354,000.
Chinese objects dominated the auction’s top ten as a large Chinese imperial blue and white basin doubled its estimate to achieve $31,860. The Ming dynasty piece, marked Jiajing and of the period, was richly painted with a blue glazed image of carp among lotus flowers.
Several pieces of carved lapis lazuli were offered for sale, with a Chinese mythical animal and figure topping the group at $41,300. From the Eighteenth Century, the figure sat atop a cloisonné base decorated with foo lions, and marked from the Qianlong period.
A Chinese Ge Ware garlic head vase from the Yongzhen period finished at $27,140. With its hongmu box, the crackle-glazed piece featured a dark footing and with raised patterns of lotus flowers near the base and neck.
Another key lot, a set of Ming dynasty court paintings depicting a birthday celebration, brought in $36,580. From a Long Island, N.Y., estate, the panel paintings were considered an unusual find, as court paintings rarely survive as a large or complete set.
In the area of Chinese textiles, a Qing dynasty (1644–1911) silk embroidered robe in yellow attained $12,980. The robe was festooned with circular panels of dragons and featured horseshoe cuffs. A silk embroidery ceremonial armor robe stunned the salesroom when it realized $40,120. The robe was embroidered with dragons amid clouds and dotted with brass metal work.
Crossing the block was a large selection of Chinese jade pieces. Two of the most successful jade items were seals. The first was a spinach jade seal from the Nineteenth Century in the form of a cylinder with an intricately carved dragon on the top and Chinese characters on the base, which finished at $9,440. The second was an early Twentieth Century carved seal, also with a dragon on the top, which brought in $10,620.
Chinese furniture also did well at the auction, with huanghuali wood pieces proving to be popular. A carved huanghuali wood altar table exceeded its estimate to come in at $11,210.
General manager Benjamin Wang said, “We are very happy with the sale results of our last two major Asian auctions. The fact that small auction houses like Altair Auctions can sell high-value art and antiques for high prices proves the power of Internet advertising, online bidding and the buyers’ trust in Altair.”
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium.
For more information, www.altair-auctions.com or 781-349-8388.