The two-session sale of rare Chinese 18th century cloisonné, huanghuali furniture, snuff bottles and archaic jades presented by Lark Mason Associates–which closed on April 27th and 29th– achieved $1,744,570 in sales including buyer’s premium. With a 78% sell-through of the 486 lots, over a third of which went into extended bidding, the final hammer exceeded original estimates by six to tenfold.
“This sale had a number of superb works of art and the competitive bidding and final prices reflected this,” says Lark Mason. “Now that the pandemic is ending, collectors are once again focusing their attention towards buying quality Asian art.”
Among the standout lots that caught the eye of one Asian buyer was a magnificent pair of Chinese cloisonné ewers, with a Qianlong mark, which rang up $425,000 over its estimate of $30,000-50,000. According to Mason, a similar shaped example is in the Palace of Fontainebleau and another in the Pierre Uldry collection of cloisonné.
The provenance recorded their purchase in the late 1940s or 1950s by an American colonel stationed in Tokyo during post-World War II occupation. Mason said this consignor’s connections with officials in the Japanese government and high-level society enabled access to a variety of high-quality works.
“These are the finest ewers that I’ve handled within my company,” says Mason. “We were very impressed with their quality and excellent condition.”
“The design is a beautiful example of work from the eighteenth century,” Mason continues. “The central motif of flowers over a ground of scrolling leafy vines. But what sets it apart is the combination of not just the brilliant colors, but the pale blue and dark blue combination of colors on the ground, heightened by the gilded elements that frame it. It’s a thoughtfully created composition.” According to the auctioneer, they would have been made in China for presentation to a Tibetan audiences as ritual vessels.
Among the other top lots that sold were: a 17th century Chinese Huanghuali Kang bed base, with an 18th century or later hardwood panel, which hammered $109,375, over its $10-20,000 estimate; a Qing white jade vase, associated with the Kangxi/Yongzheng period with archaistic straps in imitation of archaic bronze vessels of the Western Zhou period, attracted interest from multiple bidders and was snapped up for $75,000, exceeding a $20,000-30,000 estimate; a 20th century Chinese Huanghuali and hardwood table, which sold for $47,500 over its estimate of $10,000-15,000; and a 17th century Chinese Huanghuali rectangular cabinet that brought $37,500 over its $7,000-10,000 estimate. Fast and furious bidding for a carved Chinese celadon jade foliate snuff bottle shot the price up to $28,500 far surpassing its $700-1,000 estimate.
Other works that attracted attention were a large Chinese landscape and pine rhinoceros horn libation cup that sold for $27,500, a 20th century Chinese celadon jade seated Buddha that brought $32,500 over a $2,000-4,000 estimate; and a Chinese huanghuali and hardwood Ming-style side table that was snapped up for $27,500 above the $15,00-25,000 estimate.
About Lark Mason
With locations in New Braunfels, Texas and New York City, Lark Mason Associates, the eponymous, auction house specializing in Asian, ethnographic, and ancient works of art, was founded by Lark Mason after many years as an expert at Sotheby's New York.
Mason served as a General Appraiser from 1979 until 1985, and as a Senior Vice President and specialist in Chinese art with Sotheby's Chinese Works of Art Department from 1985-2003. From 2000-2003 he concurrently was a Director of Online Auctions for Sothebys.com. He also served as a consulting curator at the Trammel and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art in Dallas, Texas from 2003-2009. He is a generalist in American and European works of art and paintings, as well as an expert in the field of Chinese art and has valued and advised many private collectors and institutions.
Lark Mason Associates regularly hosts auctions on the iGavel Auctions platform and has an established history of record sales of Chinese and other works of art and holds the record for the highest price achieved for any work of art in an online sale, for a painting sold in May 2014 that realized close to $4.2m. Mason, the owner and CEO of iGavel Auctions, is noted for his regular appearances on "The Antiques Road Show."