Children sometimes think that stars must be star-shaped, though naturally they are not. The people who insist that in a picture the sky must be blue, and the grass must be green, are not very different from these children. They get indignant if they see other colours in a picture, but if we try to forget all we have heard about green grass and blue skies, and look at the world as if we had just arrived from another planet on a voyage of discovery and were seeing it for the first time, may we find that things are apt to have the most surprising colours.
E. H. Gombrich
ARTICLE FROM: WALL STREET JOURNAL : SCENE ASIA [link here]
|This yellow-ground famille-rose vase from the imperial workshops of Emperor Qianlong fetched US$32 million in Hong Kong, a new record for Chinese works of art sold at auction.|
Qing Vase Smashes Record at Auction
by Isabella Steger
The Hong Kong Convention Centre hall buzzed with excitement Thursday as buyers forked out sky-high prices for a collection of Qing Dynasty ceramics and Chinese works of art at a Sotheby’s auction.
On the penultimate day of its weeklong art auctions, Sotheby’s sold 35 lots for 1.15 billion Hong Kong dollars (about US$148 million), setting a record for a sales series in Hong Kong. Earlier in the week, strong demand for contemporary Asian art brought in HK$256 million.
One item sold Thursday set a world record for the highest price paid for a Chinese work of art at an auction — a yellow-ground famille-rose double-gourd vase from the imperial workshops of Emperor Qianlong. A Hong Kong-based collector of Shanghainese origin, Alice Cheng, paid HK$251 million, far above the high end of its estimate of HK$49.6 million.
Ms. Cheng, who said she worked in the telecom and oil industries, told reporters after the auction that the vase was for her personal collection.
Nicolas Chow, deputy chairman of Sotheby’s and international head of Chinese ceramics and works of art, was surprised by the outcome. “I didn’t expect the appetite of the market to be so monstrous…but especially in this field there is a great urgency to buy because there is very limited supply and an increase in demand.”
Another vase from the same collection sold for HK$140 million, while an imperial white-jade seal from the Qianlong period went for HK$124 million, a world record for white jade and imperial seals at an auction.
Mr. Chow said the enthusiastic participation of Chinese buyers in Chinese ceramics and works of art reflects a growing interest in their own history and culture. “The history of China in the 20th century explains why people are trying to rebuild their own history. Collecting art is one of those things that helps them rebuild their identity and reclaim their culture.”
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