Ancient Chinese Pottery at I.M. Chait Auction

I.M. Chait is to offer more than 400 lots of exceptional Chinese and Japanese art on November 15. The collections are directed at both mid-level collectors and high-level connoisseurs seeking good and realistically priced investments.
I.M. Chait’s sale leads with an extensive collection of Han and Tang Dynasty ritual pottery figures, now on view at www.chait.com.
The exhibit of the First Emperor’s ritual figures that criss-crossed America this past year re-ignited interest in this increasingly popular collecting category. Like the Ancient Emperor’s figures, the I.M. Chait offerings represent the full range of human endeavor and emotion as manifested in horses, camels, figures and more.
From the Han Dynasty, comes a remarkably unusual erotic couple. Lot 252 is comprised of two smiling Sichuan pottery figures partially dressed in simple robes and lying down. The male figure holds a male genital replica in his upraised hand. Each about 27-inches long, the erotic figures are estimated at a high of $35,000.
Another set of Sichuan pottery figures, Lot 252, portrays a cook and a merchant each kneeling and each holding the tools of their trade. The smiling cook holds a knife above a spread of delicacies. The similarly smiling merchant holds a single fish. Nearly two feet tall, the set is expected to fetch around $25,000.
Chait’s marquee lot (246) dates to the prosperous Tang Dynasty and captures the sometimes-comic relationship between beast and burden. Portrayed are striding Bactrian camels (domesticated in Bactria on the Afghan-Soviet border) caught in the open-mouthed act of expressing clear displeasure of their load. Perhaps it is the girth of the burden—mustached men in pointed caps and pointed shoes, seated on saddle blankets and balancing between bulging saddlebags—that have set them off. Nearly three feet tall, the set retains significant pigment and is expected to command in excess of $40,000.
Tang horses, portrayals of the Near Eastern imports that were one-time emblems of Chinese wealth and power, make a strong showing in the sale. Lot 247 is an early pair of red pottery horses in rare stance. Unlike the usual portrayals, these horses are depicted with legs spread and heads down, as if grazing or at a water hole. With much pigment remaining, the 22-inch pair carries a catalog estimate of $30,000 or more.
Four Tang Court Lady Equestrians comprise Lot 248. These plump-faced beauties, with upswept hair and wearing extremely long sleeved robes, are well animated in the act of playing polo. Their mounts, with finely painted manes and ornamental bridles, are symbolic of the Tang Dynasty’s clear sense of leisure in a time of high cultural contributions. This set is well valued in the $30,000 range.
For entry-level collectors, the sale features a Tang terracotta horse and groom, (Lot 257) and a Sancai pottery glazed horse with rider (Lot 256).
The auction is also strong
on Chinese porcelain, with a late Ming Dynasty porcelain Charger, Lot 207, leading the field. The Swatow-ware plate (made near the port of what is now Shantou) is of coral red and turquoise glazes. At the center of its design is a small bird surrounded by blossoms and flanked, at the border, with two writhing dragon. Probably originally intended for export to the South East Asian market, it carries a catalog high estimate of $15,000.
Lot 211 is another example of exceptional Chinese porcelain, this time in the form of a pair of 18th Century Qianlong Period, Doucai enameled plates. Each has coral-like elements connected by green scrolling and is bordered by stylized characters. It is marked Cai hua tang zhi (Made at the studio of cheerful painting.) The pair is expected to fetch $14,000 or higher.

From porcelains, the sale moves to a phenomenal collection of carved ivories.
The most outstanding of them is a superbly carved Japanese dragon Okimono group. Lot 213, the 8 ½-inch Okimono depicts two intertwined dragons. Highly animated and fully openwork, the detailing to scales, claws and manes is exceptional. Each dragon has inlaid eyes. The piece is signed with a seal and sits on a wooden stand. It is estimated at $25,000.
Among the Chinese ivories, a finely carved immortal, 36 inches tall, is the star lot. The scholarly figure, with elaborate headdress and beaded garlands, holds a tablet. Two tiered scrolls hang from his trappings. The heavy, stylized carving carries a catalog high estimate of $10,000.
Another example of fine Chinese carving is the Guanyin positioned at Lot 216. The elegant figure, which soars 40-inches from its Lucite stand, holds a staff pending a basket of roses. There is a large flowering branch in her other hand. At the base of her robes, a phoenix rises. The Guanyin is estimated at a high of $10,000.
The collection of Chinese carved ivories also includes an Emperor and Empress pair, a beauty, a delightful monkey group, oxen and a fowl family. Estimates range from $4000 upwards.
As usual, I.M. Chait’s November 15 Asian and International Fine Art auction includes an extensive collection of carved jades, Sino-Tibetan deities, Western jewelry and European paintings, all of which can be seen at www.chait.com.
For a full color catalog, please call 1-800-755-5020. I.M. Chait is located at 9330 Civic Center Drive, CA. The November 15 AIFA begns at 1300 hrs. It will be carried live and on www.artfact.com.

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