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Harem, Qi Baishi Boost $133 Million Asia Sales: Our Guide

March 17, 2012

A Chinese bronze cannon and caisson (1695). Source: Doyle New York via Bloomberg

A Chinese bronze cannon and caisson (1695). Source: Doyle New York via Bloomberg

Asia Week, New York’s biggest annual sale of Asian art, includes 15 auctions with $133 million of snuff bottles, ink scrolls and other Orientalia.

The sales at Sotheby’s (BID), Christie’s, Bonhams and Doyle New York run March 19 to March 23. The previews start today.

Here are the highlights with presale estimates.

March 19

A Chinese bronze cannon parked at Doyle: $400,000 to $600,000.

Commissioned by Emperor Kangxi and dated 1695, the cannon was captured during the Boxer Rebellion and brought to the U.S. by Colonel Webb C. Hayes, son of President Rutherford B. Hayes. It’s in Doyle’s Asian Works of Art sale.

An 1808 harem scene by Indian artist Bagta: $30,000 to $50,000.

This stand-out painting is rich in gold leaf and vibrant natural pigments with precise brushwork down to the tiny jewels on the courtesans’ robes. It’s in the Bonhams Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Art auction.

Syed Haider Raza’s “Village with Church”: $1.5-$2.5 million.

John D. Rockefeller III and his wife, Blanchette, were the original owners of the Indian artist’s 1958 painting, which sold for about $4,000 in 1994 and will lead Sotheby’s auction of Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art.

March 20

Qianlong porcelain brush-pot: $120,000 to $150,000.

This is one of two with dazzling turquoise interior (the other’s estimate is $80,000 to $120,000) from the era of China’s acquisitive 18th-century emperor. They will be offered in Sotheby’s sale of Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art.

Chinese snuff bottles: $600 to $35,000.

The perennial Chinoiserie objet comes in myriad porcelain, jade, amber, volcanic rock, ivory and lacquer forms in the Fine Chinese Snuff Bottles sale at Bonhams, with one resembling an eggplant the size of a pinky.

Japanese sword guards: $800 to $5,000.

These date from the 16th to the 19th century, feature attractive carvings and rich symbolism and appear in the Bonhams Fine Japanese Works of Art auction.

March 21

An 11th-century carved sandstone figure: $250,000 to $350,000.

The piece depicts a woman deity named Salabhanjika reaching to pick a mango from a fruit-laden tree. It stars in Christie’s (CHRS) Indian and Southeast Asian Art sale.

March 22

A massive 16th-century Buddha statue: $2-$3 million.

Weighing almost a ton, this gilt-bronze, robed and crowned deity heads to the auction block at Christie’s during the Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art sale.

A 1946 Qi Baishi ink scroll: $1.2-$1.5 million.

The auction world’s most expensive Chinese artist (1864- 1957) depicted an eagle perched on a pine branch in a work Sotheby’s will offer at its Fine Classical Chinese Paintings sale.

Carved Qianlong stone box: $300,000 to $500,000.

This small work, not quite 3 inches long, depicts two bunnies amid flowers, rocks and bamboo, where they await the fortunate bidder at Christie’s Auspicious Treasures for Scholars and Emperors sale.

To contact the reporter of this story: Katya Kazakina in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff at

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