This March, Bonhams New York will present a plethora of fine and rare works from a range of art historical periods throughout Asia’s past and present. The sales include: Chinese Works of Art Including the Richard Milhender Export Furniture Collection on 21 March, Reverend Richard Fabian Collection of Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy IV on 21 March, Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art on 22 March, and Japanese and Korean Art on 23 March, as well as a series of online sales on Bonhams.com throughout the month. Alongside that, a spectacular assemblage of Himalayan Buddhist masterpieces from the Claude de Marteau Collection will be touring Bonhams New York with associated lectures and reception from 17 and to March.
Chinese Works of Art Including the Richard Milhender Export Furniture Collection
The sale comprises a wide-ranging group of highly appealing media: jades, bronzes, cloisonné, lacquer, porcelains, pottery, sculpture, furniture and classical and modern paintings, across a wide swathe of Chinese history from the neolithic to the end of the Qing and beyond into the Republic period. Among the many highlights on offer is a small but important and rare group of primarily eighteenth century Chinese huali export furniture, perhaps the finest group still in private hands. Collected over many years by the famed Boston Collector, Richard Milhender, it comprises eleven pieces, led by a wonderful huali mirrored bureau bookcase with original Paktong (baitong) hardware (estimate: US$30,000-40,000).
The ceramics include a fine offering of Song, Ming and Qing wares, many with Imperial marks, including a superb celadon-glazed dish with a rare design of lingzhi to the interior and bearing an underglaze-blue Yongzheng mark to the underside (estimate: US$40,000-60,000). Among the Chinese furniture on offer is a pair of unusual seventeenth century spindle-back Huanghuali armchairs (estimate: US$40,000-60,000). Leading the early pottery sculptural wares section is a wonderful group of nine important items from the private US Collection of Ruth and Harold Newman. Highlights include a magnificent and massive Tang dynasty pale-green and sancai-glazed horse with superb fur saddle blanket (estimate US$200,000-300,000), and a figure of a camel with a rare monkey rider (estimate US$25,000-40,000). From another private US collector is a pair of imposing prancing horses, Tang dynasty, one glazed in brown and the other in black, forming a dynamic pairing (estimate: US$40,000-60,000).
Reverend Richard Fabian Collection of Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy IV
Bonhams presents Part IV of fine paintings and calligraphic works from America’s premier private collection of modern Chinese paintings. Reverend Richard Fabian – founder and rector of San Francisco’s ecumenical St. Gregory Nyssen Episcopal Church – first discovered the compelling beauty of Chinese paintings while majoring in Chinese art at Yale University in the 1960s. Over three decades, he formed a panoramic collection spanning the 200-year development of modern Chinese paintings. Most of the works being offered were featured in dedicated exhibitions of the Fabian collection at the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco in 2000-2001 and the Honolulu Academy of Art in 2007, each institution producing a scholarly publication to accompany the exhibition.? Sale highlights include: Zhang Daqian’s Woman Holding a Flower (estimate: US$800,000-1,200,000) and Xugu’s Immortal Image (Posthumous Portrait of Gao Yong’s Wife)(estimate: US$200,000-300,000). Part V of the Fabian collection of Chinese paintings, the online sale, will be held 14-24 March on Bonhams.com.
Indian, Himalayan, and Southeast Asian Art
The highlight of this year’s New York Asia Week auctions at Bonhams is a Gilt Copper Alloy Figure of Tara from Nepal, Early Malla Period, 13th century, estimated at US$500,000-700,000. Coming from the esteemed collection of Michael Henss, a noted Himalayan art scholar, this beautifully-proportioned figure epitomises the elegance for which Nepalese sculpture is deeply revered. The bronze represents a popular Buddhist savior-goddess and is one of the finest examples of Tara from any style and period to come to market. Remnants of cold gold and blue pigment applied to the face and hair indicate the artwork’s prior worship in Tibet. This superlative sculpture makes its first appearance in the market since it was acquired over 35 years ago.
Japanese and Korean Art
Spanning over eight centuries of Japanese and Korean art, our 23 March sale reflects the beauty of the archipelago and the peninsula in many forms and genres. Especially well represented this year are woodblock prints, with highlights including Storm Below the Summit by Katsushika Hokusai, Edo period, 1831 (estimate: US$200,000-300,000); Utagawa Kuniyoshi’s Monster Skeleton Triptych, Edo period, circa 1844 (estimate: US $150,000-250,000), and a rare complete set of Tsukioka Yoshitoshi’s One Hundred Aspects of the Moon (estimate: US$30,000-50,000). We will also offer elegant artworks from the Edo period: a fine and multi-pieced gold lacquer tabako-bon (smoking set) from the 19th century (estimate: US$5,000-7,000) and a six-panel screen in ink and colors on gold ground of Scenes from the Tale of Genji by an artist of the Tosa school in the 17th century (estimate: US$30,000-50,000).
We are also delighted to showcase fine examples of contemporary metalwork from many of Japan’s most important metalsmiths, including the first woman Living National Treasure, Osumi Yukie’s whose silver vase Bakufu (Waterfall) is estimated at US$35,000-45,000), and Nakagawa Mamoru’s vase Hayashi (Trees) (estimate: US$35,000-45,000). Mamoru is also a Living National Treasure and master of z?gan inlay. A double gourd celadon ewer from the 13th century (estimate: US$18,000-25,000) and a slip-inlaid celadon cup and stand from the 13-15th centuries (estimate: US$4,000-6,000) represent the ceramic offerings from the Korean peninsula.
Treasures from the Claude de Marteau Collection of Tibetan, Nepalese, Indian and Southeast Asian Art
After Brussels, Geneva, and Paris, the touring exhibition of the Claude de Marteau Collection is coming to New York in March. The collection is a unique assemblage of art gathered over decades by the late dealer and collector. It spans works created over a period of 1,500 years in the Hindu and Buddhist cultures that once flourished in India, Nepal, Tibet, and China.
Claude de Marteau stumbled upon the art that was to be his lifelong passion while on an extended trip exploring the globe as a young man. Entirely self-taught, he became a respected dealer and an eminent authority on Tibetan, Nepalese, Indian and Southeast Asian art. He was renowned for his ‘great eye and intrinsic aesthetic sensibility’, in the words of his friend Dr. Pratapaditya Pal, a leading scholar-curator in the field. In his later years, Claude increasingly withdrew from public life; only a handful of pieces from his collection have ever been exhibited or published.
A highlight of the exhibition is a magnificent 15th/16th century Tibetan gilt copper alloy figure of Guhyasamaja (estimate: EUR140,000-180,000). More than 1 ½ feet tall, this grand sculpture depicts the iconic tantric yabyum (lit. ‘father-mother’) image of male and female deities in sexual embrace symbolizing a union of the Buddhist virtues of wisdom and compassion. Created during a period known as Tibet’s Renaissance, the bronze follows the artistic tradition of one of its master artists, Sonam Gyaltsen, active in Central Tibet in the 15th century. Representing a potent vehicle for transforming one’s consciousness, the de Marteau Guhyasamaja is clearly one of the largest and most impressive Tibetan gilt bronze yabyum sculptures ever to offered at auction.
The Claude de Marteau Collection will be offered in four sales by Bonhams in Paris and Hong Kong in June and October 2022 and June and October 2023. This tour brings the very best Tibetan Buddhist pieces from all sales to New York for public exhibition.
The Reverend Richard Fabian Collection of Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy, Part V The Online Sale
The Noble Silver Collection – Treasures from the Burmese Silver Age
Bonhams’ offering extends to the digital space, with the online sale of Noble Silver Collection – Treasures from the Burmese Silver Age, considered to be the finest and most comprehensive known collection of Burmese silver in the world. The collection charts a magnificent body of work produced by Burmese master silversmiths between the mid-19th and early 20th century, a period termed the Burmese Silver Age. This little-known genre of silver art is characterised by an exuberant decorative style achieved through superb technical artistry. Unlike other producers of silverware in Asia, Burmese silver catered largely to a domestic market, producing art objects designed for traditional Southeast Asian customs such as betel culture and temple offerings. Many of the pieces in the Noble Silver Collection are embellished with beloved scenes from the Ramayana and the Jataka Tales.
Most of the 122 intricate artworks comprising the Noble Silver Collection are featured in the recent landmark publication, Burmese Silver Art: Masterpieces Illuminating Buddhist, Hindu and Mythological Stories of Purpose and Wisdom (Owens, 2020). The sale of the entire collection will be divided into a special section of the Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art auction at Bonhams New York on 22 March, and this dedicated online sale from 14-24 March.
Arts of India, Southeast Asia, and the Himalayas Online
This online sale brings together a diverse range of lots, including Indian sculptures and paintings, Tibetan thangkas, ritual implements, and Gandharan sculpture, with estimates ranging from US$500 to US$10,000. Highlights include a Late Mughal portrait of a noble and two princes, from circa 1745, and a schist head of Buddha from the ancient region of Gandhara, 3rd/4th century. It is a great opportunity for collectors of all interests and tastes to acquire works of good quality at affordable price levels.