When Lark Mason Associates offered what seemed to be a Chinese painted paper ten-fold screen dating from the Kangxi period with an estimate of $30,000-50,000, imagine the surprise and excitement that ensued when the final price reached a record-breaking $562,500, twenty times more than the original price.
The subject, depicting a scene from Buddhist paradise, was exquisitely painted and mounted on a wood frame similar in style to other Chinese 18th century examples. The screen had been brought in by the owner to PBS Antiques Roadshow in Bismarck, North Dakota in 2006 in an effort to discover the age and value. The owner had no expectations of value but was curious if it was wallpaper affixed to a wood frame or something more. It had been the legacy of a distant relative and nothing much was known about it. For years the screen had been stored in a damp basement and the backing was damaged by moisture but the painted panels were in nearly untouched condition.
Says Lark Mason: “The exquisitely rendered figures among clouds and pavilions seemed typical of Chinese works from the Kangxi period and we expected the screen to realize in the range of $30,000-50,000.” According to Mason, Chinese screens of this period almost always have twelve panels and the backing material, composed of Chinese printed newsprint, seemed to confirm the Chinese origin. With this assumption, the staff of Lark Mason Associates watched in amazement as the few Chinese bidders quickly dropped out of the competition on the iGavel Auctions website and were replaced by a determined group of bidders from Korea.
Early Korean paintings include a small number of very rare works painted in a Chinese style and employing Chinese subject matter. Bidding finally ended at $562,500, and it sold to a notable Korean dealer. Over a period of several months the staff of Lark Mason Associates and the winning bidder from Korea arranged a meeting to pickup the screen from Lark Mason Associates offices in New Braunfels, Texas. Upon the return of the screen to Korea, the purchaser brought together a number of esteemed Korean painting experts who stood silently admiring a work that was proclaimed by them to be one of the finest examples of its type. The screen is now rightfully returned to its home after a sojourn of several generations in the United States.
About Lark Mason and iGavel Auctions
With locations in New Braunfels, Texas and New York City, Lark Mason Associates, the eponymous auction house that specializes in Asian, ethnographic, and ancient works of art, was founded by Lark Mason, after serving as an expert at Sotheby’s where he held the position of General Appraiser, Senior Vice President and specialist in Chinese Art, and Director of Online Auctions for sothebys.com.
Mason was a Consulting Curator at the Trammel and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas, Texas from 2003-2009. He is a Professor at New York University and was Chairman of Asia Week New York in 2016 and 2017. He is Vice-President of the board of the Appraiser’s Association of America. Over his career, he has valued and advised many private collectors and institutions.
Lark Mason Associates regularly hosts auctions on the iGavelauctions platform and holds the record price for the sale of any work of art in an online sale, achieved in 2014 with the sale of a painting for nearly $4.2m.
For more information, visit.www.larkmasonassociates.com or www.igavelauctions.com.