On Monday, March 18 Gianguan Auctions hosts the 18th running of its annual spring sale. As in previous years, the auction is scheduled to offer international collectors taking in events at Asia Week an independent and trusted source for important and rare Chinese works of art.
In tribute to the Year of the Pig, three carved jade pigs are on the podium. The highlight is a Ming carving of a smiling pig recumbent in a woven basket with handle. The turned-up tips of its ears and the corners of its mouth are symbolic of the comforts of wealth and prosperity, properties associated with pigs. The back of the basket carries the Shou sign, a reference to longevity.
A magnificent Kangxi ruyi scepter in the form of a lingzhi fungus leads a strong collection of Qing jade carvings. Fashioned from a rare white jade boulder, the reticulated branches are home to bats, peaches and pomegranates. The scepter is topped with a solid lingzhi head. The carving sits on an undulating wooden plinth that mirrors the overall form.
Works by two female artists of the 21st and 20th centuries highlight the paintings collection. “Pomegranates in Bamboo Basket” is by Dr. Yuhua Shouzhi Wang, who currently has a solo exhibition running in the States. The ink-and-color on paper combines traditional flavor with contemporary flair that tricks the eye into believing the elegant composition was effortless. It is signed Yuhua, with one artist seal. In 2008, the United States Congress recognized Dr. Yuhua Wang as a “great artist and sculptor.” She has also recently been honored with a dedicated gallery at the International Art Museum of San Francisco.
Song Meiling (1898-2003), publicly known as Madame Chiang Kai-shek, is represented by “Sun Moon Lake,” a 1956 chiaroscuro hanging scroll that recalls a romantic outing. It is signed and has one artist seal. The colophon with seal commemorated by her husband.
Best-selling artist Qi Baishi (1864-1957) is represented by “Shrimps,” a field of seven free swimmers. The long, segmented bodies with appendages and short anterior legs take on an abstracted angularity in flourishes of gray and black. Signed “at 89 Baishi,” the hanging scroll has two artist marks.
Zhang Daqian gives us “Louhan’s Crossing,” a relatable interpretation of Bodhidharma fording a stream to spread the word. In earlier paintings by other painters, the louhan rode a reed across the waters. Zhang Daqian portrays the stooped elder with robes tied up above his knees, a staff in his right hand, while the left rests on the head of a supporting attendant. Spare of stroke, the artist has depicted the monk with bushy eyebrows, sagging cheeks and high nose. Dated 1946, signed Zhang Yuan, the ink-and-color on paper has four artists seals.
A 13th/14th century Tibetan gilt bronze thangka frieze of the Avalokiteshvara is an unusual altar piece. Embossed in high relief, the enlightened one is posed in pralambopadasana on a stepped throne. Dressed in an elaborate dhoti festooned with beads of coral and turquoise, he is surrounded by floral stems on either side and elaborately chased scrolling images. The back is embossed with Tibetan letters, possibly a mantra.
A sublime votive offering is the blanc-de-chine ceramic statue of Guanyin by He Chaozong, a 17th c. master potter. The elegant figure that sits in dhyanasana on a plinth of louhans and lotus blossoms was likely created as a commission for a specific monastery. Its fingers are long and delicately shaped, an indication of male energy. The shawl falls in five graduated folds above a cascading wrap that lays between the lateral folds of the Guanyin’s concealed legs.
For details on these and all properties in the Gianguan Auctions spring sale, please visit www.gianguanauctions.com. Previews open on Tuesday, March 12 and run through Monday, March 18.