Bonhams first series of auctions of fine Asian Art in Hong on May 26 – at the Asian International Art and Antiques Fair – features three categories: Contemporary Asian Art, Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art as well as a single-owner consignment, The Green Willow Hall Collection of Jade.

The auctions take place at the Asiaworld Expo in Hong Kong. Start times are: 1pm, Contemporary Asian Art: 3pm, Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art: and 5pm, The Green Willow Hall Collection of Jade.

Undoubtedly the most valuable object in the sale is a stunning 14th century early blue and white globular jar from the Yuan Dynasty which is estimated to attract bids in the region of HK$10,000,000 – HK$15,000,000 ($1,300,000 -$2,000,000).

Colin Sheaf, Chairman of Bonhams Asia and Head of the company’s Asian Art Department says: “This is among the most exciting pieces I have ever been privileged to offer in 20 years of auctioneering. It marks an extraordinary moment, when potters at the Imperial kiln at Jingdezhen in Jiangxi Province began to explore the vast new opportunities of painting bold novel designs onto a white porcelain blank canvas. This revolutionary innovation enabled the potters to create splendid jars, dishes and bowls which rapidly appealed to princely courts from the South China Sea to the Mediterranean.”

“This jar, one of only three known with this particular design, is an outstanding example of the unprecedented porcelain technology and design which China has given to the world.”

Other sale highlights include: four hanging scrolls mounted in two panels entitled Lotus and Dragonflies, by the distinguished modern artist, Qi Baishi (1864-1957), consigned by a distinguished private European collector estimated to sell for HK$1,500,000 – HK$2,300,000 ($200,000-300,000); a fine and rare Imperial cloisonné enamel globular jar, lei, Qianlong, very similar to one still housed in the Palace Museum Beijing, estimated at HK$300,000 – HK$450,000 ($40,000-60,000): and a selection of 18th century jade carvings, with estimates ranging from HK$40,000-HK$430,000 ($5,000 to $55,000). A pair of fine and rare Imperial green jade beaker vases estimated at HK$1,000,000-1,500,000 ($130,000 to $190.000) is particularly significant for collectors because each bear the Imperial reign name of the Qianlong Emperor (1736-1795), having been commissioned from a leading 18th Century jade carver to copy the form of a much earlier bronze wine vessel.

Speaking about the importance of this first sale for Bonhams in Asia, Colin Sheaf says: “We have assembled our first auction in Asia from three carefully chosen and focussed selections of Chinese Art, timed to coincide with the Asian Art Fair, of which it forms an integral part. The private collection of jade will appeal very strongly to a new group of collectors from Mainland China, many of whom we already know will come to Hong Kong to visit our auction at the Fair.”

“The second part of the sale – Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art – will definitely attract the established group of major Asian collectors from Singapore to South Korea who have created the present demand for top quality Chinese art over the last 30 years, ever since Hong Kong set out to establish itself as a cultural driving force for Asia.”

“Out of our three auctions, we expect the Contemporary Asian Art to generate the widest global appeal, with interest and consignments already coming from Sydney to San Francisco. We are attracting many new collectors, from a variety of nationalities, all increasingly drawn to the explosive energy of the new art from China as it transcends traditional boundaries of inspiration and medium.”

He adds: “Opening an office in Hong Kong marks the crossing of another art market frontier in Bonhams global development. It is part of a strategic decision to increase our presence in Asia. We see our auction business in Hong Kong as the springboard to developing relationships with clients as far afield as China, Japan, India, South Korea, Indonesia and Singapore.”

Howard Rutkowski, Head of Bonhams Contemporary Asian Art has sourced nearly 100 items for this sale. Top lots include: a bronze by Ju ming (b.1938) Taiji Series: Single Whip – 110x155x665cm – estimate HK $2,730,000 and a picture by Chen Chengbo (1895-1947) The Bath 45×40 cm – estimate HK$1,200,000 – HK$ 1,800,000.

The sale also contains a solid selection of cutting-edge works by Asian artists who have already achieved international recognition. Among this group are works by Huang Yan, Qiu Zhijie, Huang Kui, Rong Rong, Hong Hao, Zheng Lianjie, Zhang Huan and Ma Liuming.

Howard comments: “We are very pleased and excited to include contemporary Asian art in our series of inaugural sales in Hong Kong. We are especially delighted to be able to offer a rich variety of work in all media by artists throughout the region.”

“Following the momentum created by our contemporary Asian art sales in London and San Francisco, Hong Kong is the logical venue for our continued expansion in this market. As a locus for international finance and business, Hong Kong provides our international clientele with a very user-friendly environment.”