SAN FRANCISCO – A group of fine Chinese furniture, formerly in the collection of Eleanor Majors Carlisle (a pillar of San Francisco society at the turn of the 19th century, and daughter of Alexander Majors, one of the co-founders of the Pony Express) took the spotlight at Bonhams‘ more than $12.8-million auction of Fine Asian Works of Art held Dec. 20-21. The two-day sale offered up 900 lots obtained from private collectors, estates and institutions throughout the United States.
A rare pair of zitan and hongmu recessed leg altar tables, 18th/19th century, from the Carlisle estate soared to $2,714,500 (pre-auction estimate $120,000-$200,000) against fierce bidding on the telephones and a packed room of international buyers.
An elaborately carved zitan and hongmu throne chair, 19th century, brought $1,022,500 (pre-auction estimate $200,000-$300,000), preceded by an unusual huanghuali clothes rack, Qing dynasty, which sold for $338,500 (pre-auction estimate $120,000-$200,000).
A set of four zitan, hongmu mixed wood and cinnabar lacquer mounted side chairs, from the same collection, sold for a remarkable $266,500, more than 20 times its estimate of $20,000 to $30,000.
Works of art and bronzes also captured the rapt attention of the crowd. A cast bronze seated figure of the Buddha, Ming dynasty, from the estate of Dino Bigalli, maestro of the Chicago Civic Light Opera, took center stage, bringing $578,500 (pre-auction estimate $40,000-$60,000).
A set of four grisaille enameled porcelain hanging plaques, Republic period, inspired heated bidding and brought over 15 times its estimate of $12,000 to $18,000, realizing $230,500.
A 19th century jade and hardstone inlaid lacquer wood panel of kingfishers and wisteria, based on a pair of panels commissioned during the Qianlong period for the Yucuixuan, caused a flurry of excited bidding, bringing $338,500 (pre-auction estimate $6,000-$8,000). This panel was discovered in one of Bonham’s San Francisco monthly public consignment events.
Works by the renowned artist Qi Baishi were the top selling lots of the more than 100 paintings offered. An album, comprising nine paintings of various subjects, more than doubled its auction estimate of $200,000 to $300,000, selling for $506,500, while a painting of Chinese peonies by the same artist brought $158,500 (pre-auction estimate $50,000-$80,000).
A Ming handscroll dated 1625 by Wei Zhike (active 1609-1627) sold for $43,750 (pre-auction estimate $10,000-$15,000). Two Tibeto-Chinese thankas of Arhats, 18th/19th century, sold for $110,500 (pre-auction estimate $12,000-$15,000), against animated bidding from the floor and the telephones.
For more information on Bonhams’ Asian art and antiques auctions, visit Bonhams online.
Further reading on Asian art and antiques: Asian Market Report: Massive influx of cash boosting Asian art and antiques
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