$1.5m Ming bronze figure of Variocana leads Christie's Chinese Art auction
On September 15 and 16, Christie's New York will present a feast for the eyes at its Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art auction, which offers over 550 objects across many categories and tastes, and many from private collections.

Highlighting the sale is a very rare large and finely cast gilt-bronze figure of Vairocana ($1m-1.5m), which is an exceptional example of its type, exhibiting superb casting and fine attention to detail.

Vairocana is one of the Five Dhyani Buddhas, which represent the five qualities of the Buddha. The simple robes reflect the purity of Vairocana's character. Another Ming bronze figure of Variocana (estimate: $600,000-800,000), but luxuriously covered in gilding, adorns the cover of the sale catalogue.

The figure exhibits superb casting and fine attention to detail, especially incised details of the hems of the robes and the crisply cast features of the tiered crown.

With estimates ranging from $4,000 to $1m, the sale is expected to realize in the region of $19m.

One of the highlights of the ceramics section is a rare blue and white Ming-style moonflask, Qianlong seal mark in underglaze blue and of the period (1736-1795) (estimate: $500,000-700,000).

Bronze Vairocana Ming dynasty
Imposing: the vast Ming dynasty bronze Vairocana

This flask is particularly rare as other examples of this design are usually of larger size. The sale also includes a group of fine doucai porcelains including a rare doucai dish, Kangxi six-character mark in underglaze blue within a double circle and of the period (1662-1722) (estimate: $200,000-300,000).

There is also a very rare doucai meiping, Yongzheng/Qianlongperiod (1723-1796) (estimate: $300,000-500,000), of unusually elegant proportions and colourfully enamelled with a dragon and phoenix amidst exotic flowers.

Highlighting the selection of twenty textiles from a private European collection is a rare pair of brocade gold-ground civil official's rank badges of a peacock, buzi, late 17th/early 18th century (estimate: $30,000-40,000).

Woven in shades of blue, coral red and turquoise, rank badges of this type with a gold ground are exceptionally rare. Another highlight is a set of four finely stitched embroidered dragon roundels, early to mid-19th century (estimate: $18,000-25,000), which would have originally adorned an imperial court surcoat.

Also included in the sale is an impressive selection of furniture fashioned from some of the most highly prized woods in China, including huanghuali, literally "yellow flowering pear wood," a rare type of rosewood, and zitan, another rare type of rosewood admired for its rarity, density, fine, tight grain and deep purplish-brown patina.

Among the zitan highlights is a very rare pair of huamu-inset zitan armchairs, 18th /19th century (estimate: $400,000-600,000). Deeply carved with dragon and phoenix decoration, this pair falls into a group of mid-Qing Palace furniture.

Equally impressive is a very rare imperial mother-of-pearl-inlaid gilt-decorated black and red-lacquered softwood recessed-leg wine table, jiuzhuo, Wanli six-character mark in red lacquer in a line and of the period (1573-1619)(estimate: $200,000-300,000).

This remarkable table is a rare and important example of early imperial lacquer furniture, which rarely survives in such well-preserved condition.

Watch this space for the results of this exciting auction.


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