Gianguan Auctions to Sell $1M Grasshopper Dishes and Ancient Scroll Paintings at Asia Week Sale

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To mark the 11th running of its spring auction during New York’s Asia Week, Gianguan Auctions has assembled a top-notch collection of more than 300 properties, including remarkable Chinese ceramics, historic and modern scroll paintings, scholars items, jade carvings, jewelry and objects of beauty. The auction, slated for Sunday, March 16, at 295 Madison Avenue, will be conducted in two sessions.

Gianguan Auctions in New York City announces the highlights of its Asia Week sale on March 16, 2014 at 295 Madison Avenue. Asia Week, New York's premier selling event, attracts international buyers. (

The day’s marquee lot is a diminutive pair of Qing Dynasty Famille-Rose Floral Bowls with Grasshoppers. Of thinly potted translucent porcelain, the bowls are enameled with a grasshopper amidst blossoms on one and pea pods on the other. Each is inscribed with a poem. Merely 3 5/8 inches (9.2 cm) in diameter and 1.5 inches (3.8 cm) tall, they have rounded sides and stand on a short circular foot. Both bear blue glazed seal marks on the recessed base. Grasshoppers are symbols of good luck and abundance, symbolic for the Imperial reign. They also signify speed in achieving success. It is anticipated that the pair, Lot 190, will reach their $1,000,000 to $1,500,000 estimate quickly.

The highlight of the paintings is Spring Time, an ink and color on paper scroll by Southern Song Dynasty court painter Ma Lin (ca. 1180—after 1256), whose famous father Ma Yuan taught him the art of painting. The scroll depicts two parrots on a cherry blossom limb above a peacock atop rockery and a peahen on the ground. The work is further enhanced with prominent cherry blossoms. Bearing the artist’s signature and seal, its provenance is evidenced by Nine Emperor’s Seals and Twelve Collectors seals. It has a colophon by Fan Qin. Lot 38 has a catalog estimate of $1,000,000 - $1,500,000.

Also on the list of highly desirable paintings is Two Racing Stallion by Xu Beihong (1895 - 1953). One of the first Chinese artists to apply Western oil painting techniques to epic Chinese themes, Xu Beihong was instrumental in organizing the first international exhibition of Chinese artists in 1933. He later introduced Qi Baishi and Ren Bonian to art lovers at the Royal Albert Hall. Two Racing Stallions, created at the height of the master’s oeuvre, typifies one his favorite subject matters, horses. The ink and color on paper is dated 1942. It is signed Beihong and caries two artist seals. Lot 32 is valued at $150,000 - $200,000.

Two Solitary Hermits by Zhang Daqian (1899-1983) is a dramatic depiction of Boyi and Shuqi, the Zhou Dynasty pacifists whose protest against an unfeeling emperor ended in death by starvation. Portrayed in a tranquil mountain landscape, color fields of strong blue (for the ground) and red (the robe on one brother) create artistic tension.The highly acclaimed 20th C. master, Zhang Daqian, dedicated this painting to a friend. It is an ink and color on paper, dated 1945, inscribed and signed Zhang Daqian. It carries two artist’s seals. Positioned at Lot 23, the pre-sale estimate is $50,000 - $70,000. (

Contemporary ink collectors will find Running Script Calligraphy by Fu Shan (1607-1685) an important historic link to today’s trends in calligraphy. The painting by one of the leading art theorists of the 17th C. was created on the cusp of the Ming/Qing Dynasty, during which transformative foundations were set for the stele school of calligraphy. The signed ink on paper scroll carries one artist seal. Lot 45, it is expected to fetch $50,000 - $80,000.

Chrysanthemum by Me Lanfang (1894-1961), the multi-talented artist also known for his operatic Qingyi roles, is representative of the many fine moderate level paintings in the sale. This signature floral scroll painting, ink and color on paper, is inscribed by the artist and bears two artist seals. The pre-sale valuation of Lot 24 is $6,000 - $8,000.

Museum quality objects of beauty in the afternoon session include a fine Doucai Dragon Double-Gourd Flask set with loop handles above a short splayed foot. Of compressed form, the flask has an olive-shaped upper bulb that features a bat medallion below a gilt rim enameled with a scrolling wreath. The lower bulb is decorated with center gilt Shou symbol defined by descending dragons in green and aubergine. An overall pattern of feathery foliage on undulating stems adorns the vase. The arched handles are painted with blossoms on a yellow ground. A key-fret band encircles the foot. The interior and underside are glazed in pale turquoise. A recessed reign mark in underglazed blue is apparent. Of the Qing Dynasty, the flask has the Qianlong Six Character Mark. The 7 1/2 inch tall porcelain flask is Lot 185. Its estimate is $500,000 - $800,000.

In the mid-range offerings is a delightful pair of Famille-Rose Caparisoned Elephant Jun Vases. Each animal stands four-square with its head to one side and has an upwards-curling trunk. Each wears a decorative harness upon which rides a handsome Jun, Gu-shaped enameled beaker vase with brocade ground and writhing dragons amid clouds chasing flaming pearls. Cast in mirror images with different color enamels, the elephants make an auspicious rebus that symbolizes Taipingyouxiang, or great peace in the world. Of the period, the elephants carry the Qing Dynasty six character mark. Standing an impressive 11 7/8 inches tall, they are Lot 206, valued at $10,000 - $20,000.

A collection of unusual porcelain items capture the improvements in porcelain-making that occurred during the Yuan Dynasty. This transitional age brought developments in the firing techniques of blue and white porcelain and the maturity of underglazed red porcelain. Both set the stage for further refinements during the Ming and Qing Dynasties. Among the items is a charming water dropper modeled as a house boat with a roof and a figure. White with an underglazed of copper-red, the vessel is 6 inches long. It is Lot 233, estimated at $3,000- $5,000.

Also of copper red overglaze is a pair of bird feeder jars. On the globular bodies is a band of floral sprays. Above the short neck is a lipped rim flanked by a circular aperture. At 2 1⁄2 in (6.4 cm) tall, they make a delightful presentation. Lot 215 is valued at $2,000 - $3,000.

A spectacular collection of snuff bottles will enchant buyers the world over. Typical of the collection is a rare Famille-Rose snuff-bottle with red glass overlay carved in a lotus petal design that divides the surface into windows of decoration. Within each are birds and floral scenes. A lotus bud finial tops the unusual bell-shaped cover. A blue reign mark is apparent in the recessed base. The snuff bottle is of the period and identified by the Qianlong four character mark. Lot 160 has a $2,000 - $4,000 estimate.

Another example from the collection is a well carved red and yellow overlay glass snuff bottle with four Famille-Rose windows of figural story scenes. Ovoid in form, the scenes are set within a molded cartouche below two bats and a lappet collar. The stopper is coral. Again, the blue reign mark is clear in the recessed base. Of the Qing Dynasty, the snuff bottle carries the Qianlong four character mark. It is Lot 156, valued at $1,500 - $2,000.

Scholar’s items that define their owner’s personalities and accomplishments are another fascinating aspect of Gianguan Auctions’ Asia Week sale.

For instance, a finely carved Shou Lao Tianhuang scholar seal imparts prosperity and longevity. The God of Longevity holding a peach sits atop a cube of rich russet and vivid hematin silk red muscle. The immortal is portrayed with incised beard beneath his tonsured head. Script on the seal reads, Shou Bi Nan Shan, translated as Longevity. Nearly 5 inches tall (11.1 cm) and weighing 460 gm, the seal is Lot 126. Its estimate is $8,000 - $10,000.

A 5-pound Songhua stone square seal with double ink wells is well worth its weight in value. It is craved of striated grayish green rectangular stone and has a double grinding surface reminiscent of Double-Happiness. Each has a recessed water pool. The reverse is inscribed with a four-character seal: Huang Di Zhi Bao, Imperial Treasure in Manchurian and Seal Script. Nearly 4-inches tall, it is Lot 149, estimated at $3,000 - $5,000.

For a comprehensive view of the paintings and decorative antiques in the Gianguan Auctions Asia Week sale, please visit For condition reports, please call the Gallery Director at 212-867-7288 or email info(at)gianguanauctions(dot)com. (

Gianguan Auctions is located at 295 Madison Avenue (Entrance on 41st Street). The auction is Sunday, March 16th. Session 1 begins at 11:00 a.m. Session 2 starts at 2:00 p.m. Previews begin March 8 and run through March 15.

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