Bonhams Auctions Chinese Art from the Scholar’s Studio

Wen ZhengMing.jpg

New York—On March 16, Bonhams will present a curated auction of 165 lots entitled Chinese Art From the Scholar’s Studio. The title refers to the treasured works of art produced for or by the Chinese literati as objects of study and refinement.  

The cover lot, Longqiu tu by Wen Zhengming (1470-1559), the great ‘scholar-painter’ of Ming dynasty cultural elite, is a scroll of ink and light color on paper that is expected to achieve between $250,000 and 400,000. Although undated, it is most likely that the artist composed the scroll in the 1540's, a period during which his style had matured and he enjoyed widespread acclaim for his talent with the brush. The work presents a dense composition of a rocky, mountainous landscape crowded with foliage. Three men sit on a small and inconspicuous boat that floats on a river leading up to a wash-darkened cave. The journey to Longqiu, which is on Mount Yandang in the eastern Zhejiang province, is a treacherous one but many attempt to visit the site for its spectacular scenery.

Among other important lots are:

  • Cityscape, by world-renowned modern painter Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010) with a pre-sale estimate of $120,000 - 180,000. Created by one of the premier artists of the 20th century, the dense symphony of lines enhanced by vibrant streaks of color compose an abstracted cluster of buildings and stairways.  Influences of Cubism can be credited to the artist’s study of modern Western art with his early academic training and later travel in Europe.
  • A beautiful Chinese ink landscape from the artist Yuan Jie (late 15th/early 16th century). Landscape after Ni Zan is an exquisite example of Late Ming painters’ reliance on the idioms and motifs of Song and Yuan dynasty masters. The pre-sale estimate is $40,000 - $60,000. This scroll, along with those above and more than fifty others in the same sale are from the esteemed collection of Mark S. Pratt, a career United States diplomat whose tenure was completed with his retirement as the US Consul General at Guangzhou in 1989.
  • An 18th century huanghuali side table 18th century (est. $50,000 - 70,000), originally purchased from the Hong Kong dealer Y.K. Ma in the 1959, is a highlight from the auction’s strong selection of furniture, and is also from the collection of Mr. Pratt.
  • A pair of jadeite table screens from Late Qing/Republic Period (est. $10,000 - 15,000), are one lot from the strong selection of jades in the sale. Their front faces carved in low relief to depict a scene of birds and butterflies amid flowering blossoms, the two panels are composed symmetrically, a hallmark of traditional Chinese aesthetics. The white stone bears striking emerald green inclusions and each panel rests on a delicately carved wood stand.
  • A white jade mountain, 19th/20th century, (est. $8,000 - 12,000) carved in high relief to depict figures in a mountainous landscape. Scenes symbolizing longevity and prosperity are carved into the white jade, and russet-colored inclusions beautifully define the rough terrain.

Bruce MacLaren, Senior Specialist of Chinese Art at Bonhams says, “Judging by the results of our Scholar’s Studio sale in New York in September and March 2014, we are anticipating a very positive response from the worldwide Chinese art collecting community for our upcoming sale.  We are thrilled to have so many high quality paintings, jades and huanghuali furniture, nearly all of which have not been available to the market for several decades.”

The auction will begin at 12 pm. The online catalog will soon be available online here.

Image: Wen Zhengming (1470-1559), Longqiu tu, hanging scroll, ink and light color on paper, 23 x 11in (58.4 x 28cm). Est. $250,000-400,000.

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