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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Bonhams New York Fine Asian Art Auction

The Bluette H. Kirchoff Collection and Several Rare Pieces to be Offered in Two-Part September Sale

Devotees of fine Asian Art will be offered an exceptional collecting opportunity on September 16th at the New York galleries of international auctioneers, Bonhams.

The two-part sale will consist of over 400 lots from the collection of the late Bluette H. Kirchoff as well as property from various owners.

Morita SokoFrom the distinguished Kirchoff Collection of Netsuke and Sagemono is a late 18th-Century Ivory netsuke of a carp by Masanao (Kyoto). Shown swimming, its body twisted to the right in a compact composition, the piece is signed in an oval reserve ‘Masanao’. A fine example of this subject, of which very few by Masanao are known, the lot is estimated at $40/60,000.

Also of great interest is a rare, 19th-Century, gold lacquered silver single-case clock inro. In the shape of a Yamabushi priest’s backpack, this work features a removable cover into which fits a silver “bamboo” watch frame containing a western-style clock with movement by Ed Juvet á Fleurier; the watchcase designed by Muramitsu. This elegantly detailed work is estimated at $25/35,000.

A 19th-Century, four-case lacquer inro by Toshihide is sure to attract bids. Realistically rendered with a serpent set to strike a fleeing bird, this inro boasts an impeccable provenance and is expected to fetch an estimated $25/35,000.

Rounding out this portion of the sale is group of fine So school netsuke for which the Kirchoff collection was well known. Particularly alluring will be a wood netsuke, by the master Morita Soko, depicting an emaciated workman struggling to lift a bale of rice (pictured, above). Estimated at $18/20,000 it represents an excellent collecting opportunity.

Of special interest from the ‘Various Owners’ lots is an important 18th-Century, gilt lacquer Amida Buddha triad, dated 1737 (pictured, left). The central figure is seated on a double lotus pedestal surrounded by swirling clouds, with his two attendants- Seishi and Kannon- seated at each side. Carrying an estimate of $150/250,000, this extraordinary lot is expected to inspire fierce bidding.

Also on offer is an 18th-Century, Sotatsu school, two-panel screen depicting a ‘Courtier in a Boat’. The piece displays a distinctive technique known as “ink-puddling” or tarashikomi, whereby one color is added to an area of wet ink creating a mottled effect. The subject of the screen likely comes from The Tales of Ise, a 10th-Century collection of stories and poems detailing the amorous adventures of the courtier Ariwara no Narihira. The striking screen is estimated at $50/70,000.

Additionally, a pair of 18th-Century six-panel screens depicting twelve scenes from The Tale of Genji will be going to block. Each screen illustrates six episodes from the Japanese literary classic. The chapters are identified in black ink and separated by stylized gold clouds embellished with geometric patterns raised in relief or moriage. The scenes are arranged from left to right – extremely unusual as Japanese screens are typically read from right to left. Estimated at $25/35,000, the lot is sure to draw serious collector interest.

Garnering much attention from the Arms and Armor section is a15th-Century Eikyo Bizen sword by Sukemitsu, estimated at $28/32,000. The blade is presented in an 18th-Century scabbard with gilt bronze fittings all decorated with carved scrolling vines and Kano family crests. Both the sword and the mounts have been certified as worthy of preservation by The Society for the Preservation of the Japan Art Sword.

Also from the Arms section is a black-lacquer armor laced in blue and orange. Constructed in the 18th-Century as an Oyoroi type, this suit was a deluxe commission by a high-ranking samurai. The lot is expected to fetch as much as $30/40,000.

The sale will take place at 580 Madison Avenue on September 16th. The Bluette H. Kirchhoff Collection will be presented at 10AM EST and the various owners sale will be presented at 2PM EST. Previews will begin on September 13th and continue until the day of the sale. The illustrated auction catalogs can be viewed or purchased online at