Rare and luxurious articles made for emperors, courtiers and scholars proved irresistible to collectors visiting London dealer Eskenazi Ltd’s annual New York exhibition. Early Chinese Metalwork in Gold and Silver; Works of Art of the Ming and Qing Dynasties was on view at the Ukrainian Institute from 15 to 26 March 2011 as part of Asia Week.
Eskenazi sold 11 works, totalling several million dollars, and has interest in a number of others. Giuseppe Eskenazi said, “Asia Week is an important platform and in addition to making major sales to the US, Europe, Hong Kong, mainland China and Far East, we have met museum curators and collectors from all over the world”.
A European collector acquired a tiny gold and silver standing figure, probably an official, dating from the Warring States period (476-221 BC). Though only 5.1 cm high the face, hair and clothing are all depicted with astonishing detail. A pair of small knives in a double scabbard decorated with the most delicate gold openwork and dating from the Tang period, 7th century, was purchased by another European collector. The slender lapis lazuli handles no longer have their iron blades but the gold sheath is remarkable for its finely-woven gold chain, tied with knots that have never been loosened since it was made 1,300 years ago.
From later in the Tang period, 9th-10th century, a parcel-gilt silver bowl was acquired by a private collector from Hong Kong. The four panels of the bowl are finely chased with peony blooms and leaves, and the well is decorated with birds and clouds. Two Tang silver cups, decorated with flowers and scrolls, were sold to a US collector, as was a Tang equestrian figure. Another Hong Kong collector was charmed by a delightful late 18th century jade bowl, with three mischievous boys perched on a rocky base as if about to climb over its rim.
Collectors from mainland China were particularly taken by a blue and white porcelain vase, Qing dynasty with the Qianlong mark, 1736-1795, and an iron-red decorated blue and white bowl with a Qianlong sealmark in underglaze blue and of the period, 1736-1795. Two other ceramics were acquired by a collector from the Far East: a very important Ming period yellow-glazed porcelain ewer and cover, Jiajing reign mark and of the period, 1522-1566, and a celadon 18th century jardinière.