From Scholars Items to Votive Shrines, Gianguan Auctions June Sale Runs Deep

  • NEW YORK, New York
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  • May 25, 2019

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Cloisonné scholar's garnitures. Gianguan Auctions, June 17th sale.

Beginning with Classical Chinese paintings and continuing through collections of  bronzes, ceramics, stone seals, and teapots, Gianguan Auctions’ June 17th sale takes collectors deep into their favorite categories. Newcomers to the gallery will discover the quality, consistency, and accessibility Gianguan Auctions has stood for since 2002.

Among the outstanding smalls is a set of scholar’s garnitures in cloisonné. The five pieces–an inkstone warmer with cover, brush holder; brush washer with ladle, and a weasel bristle pen–have a vibrant sapphire-blue ground decorated with a yellow Wan character above and amid a front-facing dragon in pursuit of a flaming pearl. The details are set within multi-colored ruyi clouds and roiling waves, all set off by a gilt border. Each piece bears the Qing Dynasty, Qianlong four-character mark and is of the period. Lot 154 is estimated at upwards of $40,000 USD.

A rare, polychromed lacquer box with sixteen lobes is an outstanding example of the tianqi method of coloration.  Finely incised on the fitted lacquer cover, is a  central lotus bloom surrounded by scrolling Ba Jixiang (Eight Buddhist Emblems).  The artisan has the brought the flower to life by adding shades of red, turquoise blue, burnt amber and green. The lobes of the box itself are decorated with gilt phoenixes amidst clouds.  Of the Qing Dynasty with an incised Qianlong six-character m, Lot 71 is of the Period. At 15.5” in diameter and 7” tall, it is valued at more than $10,000.

Guanyiin in root-carved grotto. Gianguan Auctions, June 17th sale.

Further attesting to the creativity of scholar’s items is a well carved floral cup carved from a bamboo root. An anonymous visionary worked chisel and blade with great care to forge a budding flower surrounded by smaller buds on a stand. A just 4” tall, the cup’s surface has been patinated to a dark caramel brown. Lot 78 is expected to bring more than $1,500. 

Votive properties include several distinctive pieces such a massive Zitan Guanyin with child clutching a lotus.  Carved from a single piece of wood (with mandorla added on) the deity presents as the Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion.  Set above rough waves that indicate the deity’s willingness to rescue those in need and answer the prayers of the infertile, the Guanyin exudes serenity. Lot 170 is 38” tall. Its value is $60,000 or more.  

Contrasting is a naturalistic, root-carved grotto housing a Guanyin. The knotty stumps of the tree root flow in free-form around the deity seated within. The cowl and loose robes are in keeping with her peaceful countenance.  This is Lot 157, $4,000  upwards.

At the midrange is a porcelain figure of the Bodhisattva of Mercy. The full-length Guanyin is glazed in blue and blanc-de-chine. Of the Yuan Dynasty (12th - 13th C.)  she wears long flowing robes open at the chest. The hands are in mudra, with the left holding sutra. Lot 160 has some damage appropriate to age. It is nearly 30” tall; bidding begins at $20,000.

Sixteen-lobe Chinese lacquer box inscribed and polychromed. Gianguan Auctions, June 17th sale.

Leading the stone seals also is a jade seal within a Zitan box surmounted by an elaborately carved dragon in flight. Chinese and Manchu script decorate the sides of the box. The jade seal offers three script marks. Of the Qing Dynasty, Lot 104 is estimated at $3,000 or more.  

Following are individual Shoushan stones decorated with Bixie and Young knops.   Others are of reddish juxie stone.  Furong and Tianhuang seals, as well as a delightful collection of boulders, are carved with mythical creatures and fantastical motifs.  Heights range from 4.5” to 8.5”, as on a celadon jade seal with dragon carved knop.  Values start at $800
A favorite of Gianguan regulars are teapots. Within a collection of twelve, are an octagonal melon-form Yixing Zisha teapot with conforming bud finial by Chen Mansheng. A diminutive Yixing Zisha Burl teapot with a Knot-tie finial on the cover is by Gao Jianfang. A massive Yixing Zisha teapot by Chen Wenbo is polychromed with a stylized landscape scene. The artist’s mark is on the base. Teapots are Lots 237 - 248 and span $800-$1,500.  

An impressive group of Ceramic consignments of both collectible and decorative value is scattered through the sale. At the top tier is a famille rose vase with peony motif.  Its sender form with bulbous base and garlic head mouth is perfectly proportioned to the 16” height. Of the Qing Dynasty, with the Yongzheng six-character mark within double circles, Lot 118 is of the period. At $150,000 upwards, it is worthy of a museum or private collection.

An entry level famille rose item is large Qing bowl with protruding mid-area decorate in highly detailed florals. Gilt lip and base lines add detail. Among masterpieces produced by the Gu Yue Xuan Studio of the Qing Emperor Guangxu’s reign, the bowl bears the Qing Dynasty, Guyuexuan Mark. It is Lot 129, starting at $6,000.

From the Song Dynasty, a crackle-glaze celadon mallet vase with canted shoulder will stir the emotions of pottery lovers. It is Lot 130, merely 6.5” tall, and has a minimum value of $40,000.

The magic of the copper red glaze is apparent in several of the porcelains.  A Ming peony jar with cover is a prime example.  Of crushed-raspberry tones with dull gray, it is decorated with scrolls of flower sprays and scroll bands. The Yongle period jar is Lot 227. Starting bid is $10,000. 

The Song Dynasty (10th-12th C.) produced a lavender glaze that, in the best instances, has held its vibrancy. Such is case with a Junyao, splayed-tripod leg censer with the numeral Shi. The glaze incorporates drips of blue and purple that fade towards the bottom of the legs to expose the buff brown wash. Lot 224, at 5.5” tall, will find great interest at $6,000-$8-000.

For details on these and world class artworks in the sale, please visit and download the catalog.

Previews run Mon. June 10 - Sun. June 16 (10 am - 7 pm) Mon. Jun 17 (10 am - 5 pm).

The auction will be conducted live in the Gianguan Auctions gallery on Monday, June 17 beginning at 6 p.m. Bidding can be done live or online at or 

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