Back in September, this Chinese teapot was one of the star lots in Sotheby’s biannual “Asia Week” auctions when it sold for $3.5 million dollars of the sales total $60.4 million.
Brexit, the U.S. presidential election and general macroeconomic jitters might have cooled demand for European and American art, but the market for historic Chinese artifacts seems to be warming up again – at least at auction. In the case of the 18th-century famille-rose “Hui Mountain Retreat” teapot, more than half a dozen bidders competed before it was bought by an Asian collector.
Finely painted with a scene of tea being served in a garden, it bore a poem by the Qianlong emperor celebrating his fondness for the brew. The pot had been owned by the renowned American collector Murrell Rickards Bowden Werth, who died in 2014. Things with an imperial connection have real pulling-power for the Chinese,” Mr. Howard-Sneyd of Sotheby’s said. “And if it has been in a Western collection 30 or more years, it can’t be a recent fake, which gives them confidence.
Later that day Christie’s offered 204 lots of Chinese ceramics that American collectors had gifted over the last 100 years or so to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Museum deaccessions can be controversial, but the Met made it clear that the works being offered were mainly duplicates unlikely to be ever displayed and that the money raised would be used to fund other purchases.
The prestige of the Met provenance proved irresistible. All the lots sold, raising $12.1 million against a low estimate of $3.5 million. A Kangxi period (1662-1722) peach bloom-glazed vase topped the auction at $2 million, more than double its high estimate, while a blue and white jar of the same period — of a common type that dealers struggle to sell for $2,000 — took $20,000.
Those peach bloom vases were made in eight shapes in the Kangxi period,” said James Lally, a specialist dealer in historic Chinese art based in New York, adding that they were popular in the United States at the turn of the century. “The Met had 108 of them.”