France's biggest-ever Asian art auction nets £13.2m

As regular readers will know, the Asian collectibles markets are flourishing, and this is especially true for Asian art. So it will have been with high expectations at Sotheby's when they presented their 131 lots in Paris last week.

Nevertheless, they must have been delighted with the results, some of which were simply astounding. The sale was 93.8% sold by value and 71% of lots cleared their high estimate.

The auction's star lot was a magnificent gilt-bronze figure of Amitayus that brought €1,016,750 ($1,216,694) against an estimate of €200,000-300,000.

This Qing Dynasty sculpture, portraying the Buddha of Eternal Life thought to preside over the Western Paradise, was published in Ulrich von Shroeder's reference work on Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, and dates from the reign of Emperor Kangxi (1662-1722).

Two other Qing dynasty lots performed even better against their estimates however to bring unexpected six-figure sums, both from the reign of Qianlong.

A gilt-bronze bell and stand from a European collection, dating from the 13th year of the reign of Emperor Qianlong (1748), posted the day's second-highest price of €744,750 ($891,205) despite a relatively modest guide price of €60,000-80,000.

This was followed by an Imperial inscribed pale celadon jade Ruyi-sceptre bearing the Qianlong mark and dated the first day of Lunen year, 1785. Offered at €50,000-70,000 it too sparked a bidding frenzy, leaving the stage for €420,750.

Qianlong pale celadon jade Ruyi-sceptre jade sceptre

An impressive selection of carved rhinoceros horns confirmed the increasing sales power of these items with a Qing libation cup carrying a value of €528,750.

The sale concluded with the Arts of Japan. Two superb prints by Tôshûsai Sharaku, portraying the actors Ichikawa Ebizo IV in the role of Takemura Sadanoshin, and Arashi Ryuzo II in the role of the usurer Ishibe kinkichi, fetched the section's highest prices of €336,750 and €228,750 respectively.

These two prints are amongst the best designs by this very enigmatic artist who created works over a period of just a single year: from 1794 and 1795.

In total, the sale achieved €13.2m ($15.9m) making it the highest value various-owner sale of Asian Art ever in France, well ahead of pre-sale total estimate of €3.9-5.5m and a 106% increase on the corresponding sale in June 2009


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