Collection goes under hammer

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 November, 2011, 12:00am


Craftsmanship in China has a noble tradition, seen best in the artistry and beauty of the distinctive ceramics produced over the centuries.

From a historical perspective, and for investors, Yixing stoneware has long been recognised as among the most valuable. It is famed for the characteristic clay, but more so for the decorative calligraphy and creative expression. The innovation, shapes, pictorial detail and beguiling colours make prized possessions, coveted by galleries and private collectors.

The Gerard Hawthorn Collection of Yixing Stoneware will be on offer at the Bonhams Autumn Auctions in Hong Kong. The collection is one of the most celebrated of its kind, with many items regarded as comparable to the rarest pieces in the Palace Museum in Beijing.

Experts view this as possibly the greatest collection of Yixing Stoneware put together by a private individual.

Gerard Hawthorn's interest began when working for a London-based dealer in Chinese art in the 1960s. He later assisted some of the world's leading art collectors and museums to acquire Chinese antiques and, at the same time, gradually started to buy pieces that caught his own eye. He has taken the decision to sell in view of worldwide interest and the strength of the market.

The collection has 100 lots and is expected to sell for more than HK$20 million. The star lot is a 'plum blossom' brush pot from the Qianlong period signed by Yang Luqian with an estimate of HK$2 million to HK$3 million. Yang ranked alongside Hui Mengchen and Chen Mingyuan among the most admired Yixing stoneware artists of their eras.

Other highlights of the auction include a rare miniature 'hu' vase from the mid-Qing dynasty, inscribed by Shi Dabin with an estimate of HK$300,000 - HK$500,000, a brush washer from the early Qing period, signed by Hui Mengchen (HK$400,000 - HK$600,000), and an 'ear' water vessel with a broad irregular mouth from the early Qing dynasty, which is attributed to Xiang Zijin (HK$100,000 - HK$150,000).