Fine bronzes have spotlight in Chait’s Sept. 13 auction

BEVERLY HILLS – The high season for Asian art collectors opens Sept. 13 in Beverly Hills when I.M. Chait rolls out a slate of properties that range from archaic Chinese bronzes to 20th century bronzes, contemporary art and jewelry.

This Asian and International Fine Arts Auction gives collectors a chance to shop before the New York galleries open their salesrooms the following week.

Among the treasures on the block are ancient Chinese bronzes similar to those on display in the blockbuster exhibit, "Ancient Arts of Viet Nam: From River Plain to Open Sea," at the Museum of Fine Arts Houston.

Notable auction lots include ten Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD) bronze mirrors, which are near matches to five Han Dynasty bronze mirrors that were unearthed in Viet Nam. The moderate catalog estimates, less than $1,000 for each, make the mirrors tempting additions to any collection.

These antiquities are merely the leading edge of a broad collection of early bronzes. Lot 198 a large Western Zhou Dynasty (1027-256 BC) gui, or food vessel, with ram-head C-scroll handles and an inscription on the interior bottom, will easily command $12,000-$15,000. And, Lot 197 a pair of Warring States Period (770-221BC) bronze storage containers with domed lids showing traces of turquoise, should make $24,000.

The use of metals in ritual items and works-of-art is a thread that runs through the collections; for instance, Japanese cloisonné is amply represented by lots 101–111. Sino-Tibetan and Nepalese deities of bronze, gilt bronze and silver lots 393–398) offer evidence of the importance of metals in religious artifacts.

But it is the much later bronzes of 20th century art-deco artist Erté that will fascinate yet a broader audience. Lots 314–322 portray, among other iconic figures, "Madam Butterfly," "Byzantine," and "The Hunting." Bearing high estimates of $4,000, the sculptures could easily inspire heightened interest.

Unique to this auction is an exceptionally strong collection of Asian deities and figures rendered in limestone, sandstone, ivory and jade.

The marquee item, Lot 201 is an early Ming Dynasty Dragon charger nearly 15 inches in diameter. Of blue and white porcelain, the plate features a central mirror-image design of dragons writhing amid waves and flanked by running qilin. From the 15th century Zhengtong Period, the Ming dish carries a catalog high estimate of $60,000.

A stunning collection of elaborate carved jades in every hue and form reflect the prevailing Chinese taste. For instance, a Taoist priest in flowing robes, Lot 238 is meticulously carved of lavender jadeite with even coloration and flecks of white. Those with an eye for fine carving may find the estimate of $15,000 modest.

Black and white jade, when properly carved makes the most outstanding of statements. In the case of Lot 241 the figural grouping of dragons and phoenix amid clouds carved out of the gray suffusions is both delicate and strong.

The carved ivories open with an unusually strong collection of ivory tusks. Lot 221 ivories open with an unusually strong collection of ivory tusks. Lot 221 is a massive 19th Century pair of finely reticulated tusks depicting dramatic scenes. There is a procession of warriors, a fleet launching at waterside, travel along a rockery and a watchtower with officials. The estimate tops off at $30,000.

Among the figural ivories, Lot 227 The Four Heavenly Kings of the Cardinal Directions, could not be more beautifully carved. Each of the guardians wears elaborate "maille" armor and has a swirling sash. The set is expected to bring a high of $12,000.

Contemporary art lovers should look to the latter portion of the auction, which offers two lithographs (lots 377 and 378) by Mexican "Mixografia" artist Rufino Tamayo, and five Figurative-Expressionist pastels and two Abstract Expressionist works-on-paper by Hans Burkhardt appear (lots 379–384).

Lots 334–355 feature an outstanding collection of jewelry. A sampling includes a Baume & Mercier man’s watch of 18K gold with diamond hour markers and a rare pink diamond ring. Several lots of fine jadeite jewelry also follow.

The Sept. 13 sale will take place at Chait’s Beverly Hills salesroom. For complete details on the more than 450 lots in I.M. Chait’s Asian and International Fine Arts Auction, visit or in person at I.M. Chait Gallery/Auctioneers, 9330 Civic Center Drive, Beverly Hills.

To order a fully illustrated color catalog ($35 plus postage – $5 domestic, $15 international), call 800-775-5020 or 310-285-0182.

Photos courtesy I.M. Chait.