Gianguan Auctions Unveils Painting by Bada Shangren On Friday, June 2

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Early Buddhist statues, Zisha teapots, and carved jades are among the historic treasures at Gianguan Auctions sale on June 10.

The fifteenth running of Gianguan Auctions summer sale kicks off with Buddhist Art, a $1.5M Painting and a $1M Jade Vase. The sale is June 10. Previews begin Friday, June 2.

“Bird in a Lotus Pond,” a sharp edged and spare painting by Bada Shangren (Zhu Da), the Ming prince turned monk turned professional artist is expected to command $1.5M at Gianguan Auctions on June 10. Previews of the painting, as well as a $1M carved jade jar and an exceptional collection of early Buddhist statues begin Friday, June 2 and run through Friday, June 9, at the gallery, 39 W. 56th Street. (

The enigmatic work presents a long beaked bird resting on a broken branch, caught between pond below and flowers above. It is Lot 80, signed with the Zhu Da characters that resemble the signs for laughing and crying, has one artist seal, and is of the period.

The day’s other marque offering is an alabaster-white jade jar that has survived intact from the Han Dynasty (221-206 BC). Staggering in size and complexity, it is carved with 18 mythical qilin, the fire-breathing beasts said to appear in the presence of a sage of illustrious ruler. According to Kwong Lum, President of Gianguan Auctions, "The jar’s size–11” tall, weighing 20 pounds–indicates the nearly two-thousand-year-old vessel was a very special commission. " Lot 120 is now destined to go to a very special collector.

A strong collection of Buddhist statues calls attention to the many media Chinese artisans turned to in crafting Buddhist art for public display and private worship. The earliest work is a Northern Wei (386-535AD) stone Bodhisattva, in an unusual seated asana with crossed ankles and hands in mudras “fear not” and “charity.” Backed by a mandorla, positioned atop a base flanked by lions, the 11” tall, mottled figure with some remaining pigment is Lot 148, valued at $40,000 or above.

From the Northern Qi (550-557 AD) period, comes a marble statue of a standing Buddha in a frontal stance, with a columnar posture marked by a curved profile, and a long robe with parallel U-shaped folds, the image is typical of the period. The figure stands 33” tall and weighs nearly 80 pounds. It is Lot 145, valued at more than $60,000.

The Song Dynasty (960-1127) produced a bronze Bodhisattva Manjushri riding on the back of a Buddhist lion. The 10” tall statue weighs more than four pounds. It is Lot 153, similar to an example in the Palace Museum Beijing, and valued at more than $30,000. A surviving statue form the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1371) is a gilt and celadon glazed Guanyin. The face, headpiece and jewelry are gilt. The delicate facial gestures demonstrate the skill of Yuan Longquan potters. Lot 157, the 26” tall statue is set to go off at above $20,000.

The most recent statue is from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). It is a golden robed Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin) seated with one hand on raised knee. The 14” tall bronze carries the Qianlong Imperial six character mark embossed in a rectangle. It is Lot 155, of the period, and valued at more than $30,000.

The Buddhist art collection adheres to the 1970 Unesco accord on importation.

The need to nourish the body as well is evident in a special collection of Zisha teapots, with examples of Gu Jingzhou's work as well as Qing antique teapots that have both style and staying power. The teapots range in value from $500 to $2,000.

Notable among the scholars’ objects is a massive songhua stone square double ink-well with a double grinding surface and recessed water pools, reminiscent of Double-Happiness. It is inscribed with a four-character seal in Manchurian and Han Characters Seal Script: Huang Di Zhi Bao, Imperial Treasure. It is Lot 278, expected to command upwards of $2,000.

Also making a statement, Lot 51, is a Qing Dynasty pink jade and tourmaline court necklace with lapis lazuli beds, and a “back cloud” is the stand out at upwards of $10,000.

Details on these and other properties in Gianguan Auction's June 10 sale are online at

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Gina Kolbe
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