Chinese Art: Snapped up

The two-day Asian art auction on 3 and 5 June, with an outstanding total result of 3.6 million euro, was the second best Asian art result for Lempertz, with the largest contingency of Chinese bidders yet seen and the Chinese section nearly completely selling out. The highlight was the unusual Berlin private collection of modern Chinese paintings, presented in a special catalogue; a special press release covering this will follow. The success story of the Kolodotschko collection of netsuke continued with part III including around 300 pieces, also in a separate catalogue. With the previous results for netsuke reaching over 50% above the total estimate, Lempertz has taken the lead worldwide for the sale of netsuke.

In the main catalogue, the highlight of the Chinese works of art was a carved rhinoceros libation cup which was pushed up to a top price of 372.000; other interesting pieces included an 18th century Tibetan bronze of the Fifth Panche Lama which sold for 96.700, a jade table screen for 62.000 and a bronze gui-type vessel for 64.500.


A 15.4 cm rhinoceros horn cup from the 17th/18th century was carved in varied relief with The Hundred Children at play and playing music in a landscape setting. With an unusal motif, the cup released a long bidding fight, selling at last to a Chinese buyer for 372.000 (lot 367, 40/50.000). A steep climb was seen by a 40.4 cm red lacquer vase from the 18th/19th century, starting at 5/7.000 and reaching 32.200 (lot 362). A gui-type food vessel from the early Western Zhou period proved also to have potential for growth, with many bidders on the telephone and in the room fighting for the hammer price which eventually went to a Chinese collector bidding on the internet for 64.500 (lot 251, 5/7.000). Another top lot, a jade table screen from a private English collection, sold for 62.000. The rectangular tile was carved in variagated relief with a poet in a landscape standing in a wooden stand carved with archaic dragons (lot 315, 50/70.000).


The Chinese paintings offered in the main catalogue were led by four oval frigate scenes on the Yuejiang near Canton, attributed to Youqua, from around 1840-1880, which went to a Hong Kong dealer for 32.200 (lot 223, 25/30.000).

Tibet / Nepal

In this section a Tibetan bronze of the Fifth Panche Lama from the 18th century stood at the summit, with a sale of 96.7000 (lot 458, 10/15.000). A 24.4 cm Nepalese bronze figure of Padmapani from the 13th century or later changed hands for 52.000 (lot 452, 40/50.000), whilst an 18th century stupa from the Zanzabar school in Mongolia reached 39.700 (lot 469, 18/20.000).


The highlight of the woodcut prints was a triptych by Kitagawa Utamaro II and others. A hard battle pushed the price from 600/700 up to 22.300 (lot 591), whilst two sheets from Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1798-1861) went from 500/600 to 16.100 (lot 692). A sheet by Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) started at 1/1.500 and sold for 11.100 (lot 610). Amongst the decorative arts, a painted Nô mask was in demand, with a Swiss collector winning against determined underbidders for 23.600 (lot 800, 800/1.000). A red lacquered set of armour from the 18th/19th century was raised to 12.400 (lot 1416, 6/8.000).

The Kolodotschko collection of netsuke III

The third part of the collection was again presented in a special English language catalogue. Probably one of the largest European netsuke collections, international interest was again awakened and the result of lots sold by value was as successful as the first two parts. National and international collectors and dealers were present at the auction and pushed many pieces way above the estimate, such as a Tokyo school wood Daikoku by Sôko from the early 20th century which reached 17.400 (lot 1243, 2.800/3.200).