High hopes for spring auctions

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 27 May, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 27 May, 2008, 12:00am

The quality of the best objects believed to be as outstanding as anything on offer in London or New York

Bonhams' spring auctions of Fine Chinese Ceramics, Works of Art and Paintings, Fine Western and Jadeite Jewellery, and Fine Modern Wristwatches in Hong Kong will be held on Thursday and Friday at the Island ballroom, Island Shangri-La Hong Kong.

The auctions will feature three categories: fine Chinese ceramics, works of art and paintings, fine western and jadeite jewellery and fine modern wristwatches.

Colin Sheaf, chairman of Bonhams Asia, said he is looking forward to Hong Kong's third series of fine auctions. 'The international art market is remarkably strong at a time of financial uncertainty in other areas,' he said. 'Nowhere in the world seems to be more optimistic and buoyant than in Hong Kong.

'It's always exciting to be selling top quality Chinese art, jewellery and watches to the knowledgeable collectors and dealers who come to the auctions. This spring, the quality of the best objects we're selling in Hong Kong is as outstanding as anything we're offering in London or New York.'

The works of art auction begins with a select group of Ming and Qing dynasty ceramics, including blue and whites, wucai, famille rose, blanc-de-chine and other enamelled wares. Highlights include Lot 572, an important pair of famille rose peach dishes decorated with auspicious symbols relating to longevity dated to the Yongzheng period. The dishes are decorated with nine peaches, eight cranes and lingzhi fungus and must have been commissioned for a birthday celebration. They are expected to sell for an estimated HK$3million to HK$5million.

Lot 603 is an enamelled glass snuff bottle, finely painted with birds and flowering plants, estimated at HK$30,000 to HK$50,000. The delicate enamelling may be the work of Ye Bengqi, an early- to mid-20th century artist whose work was so impressive that for decades his copies of Qianlong pieces had experts convinced that they were the real thing.

Lot 605, an unusual figure of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara in male form, is dated to the Yuan/early Ming period. Experts expect it to sell for HK$200,000 to HK$250,000.

The sale concludes with cloisonne enamel works, lacquer ware, bamboo and wood carvings, and scholars objects. Notable is Lot 619, a cinnabar lacquer flower-shaped box and cover, worth HK$160,000 to $180,000.

The Chinese paintings lots include a combination of fine Chinese modern ink paintings, Chinese contemporary art and Southeast Asian paintings. A notable piece is Lot 535, an oil painting by Chu Teh-chun (Zhu Dequn, b.1920), Lumiere de la nuit, estimated at HK$2million to HK$3million. An important early work of 1976, this painting is an example of Chu's skilful control of colour. Trois Personages devant Cathedrale by Zao Wou-ki (b.1921) in Lot 523, estimated at HK$500,000 to HK$700,000, is another highlight.

Also on offer are ink paintings by Qi Baishi (1863-1957). Lot 510, Red Plum Blossoms and Shrimps, estimated at HK$400,000 to HK$600,000, are two of the artist's favourite subjects. Both were painted in the artist's 86th year. The plum blossoms are painted in vivid red using powerful strokes, and the shrimps are outlined with meticulous detail.