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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

The Robert H. Bluemenfield Collection to Be Auctioned at Christie’s

Christie’s New York will present For the Enjoyment of Scholars: Selections from the Robert H. Blumenfield Collection, a single-owner sale of exceptional Chinese carvings and works of art. Meticulously acquired over the past thirty years, the Blumenfield Collection is one of the most significant collections of Chinese scholar’s objects assembled.

This extraordinary group of 158 objects includes rare and important examples from the 15th to the 19th centuries, offering a comprehensive range of rhinoceros horn and ivory carvings, works of art, ceramics and paintings that were appreciated and treasured by China’s scholarly elite.

“It is a great privilege to offer Selections from the Robert H. Blumenfield Collection, which is regarded as one of the most important collections of scholar’s objects in the United States. It is truly exceptional to find so many exquisite carvings and works of art in a single collection. The pieces that will be offered reflect the refined eye and elegant taste of a true connoisseur,” said Tina Zonars, International Director of Chinese Art.

Robert H. Blumenfield
Distinguished collector, scholar and author, Robert H. Blumenfield has dedicated his life to the study and appreciation of Asian Art. Over the past 30 years, Mr. Blumenfield has amassed a personal collection that reflects his discerning and distinctive eye. Each object has been chosen for its rarity and superb quality; many of the pieces are unique and exemplify the scholar’s idyllic pursuits.

Selections from the Robert H. Blumenfield Collection
Rhinoceros Horn carvings
Long prized for medicinal and mystical powers, rhinoceros horn was extremely precious and expensive to obtain, making carvings such as those presented in this collection difficult to acquire and rare to commission. Examples surviving to the present day are considered extremely scarce and highly sought-after. Collectors will have a unique opportunity to acquire top examples of this rare art form which is highly regarded for both its craftsmanship as well as its treasured material.

Among the rich repertoire of subject matter are landscapes and figures, plants and insects, as well as scenes from daily life and plays on auspicious subjects. One of the masterpieces of this genre is a very rare rhinoceros horn cup, skillfully carved with a scene of the beloved poet, Tao Yuanming (365-427) seated beside a wine jar in a setting of bamboo and rocks admiring a sprig of chrysanthemum, his favorite flower, 17th century (estimate: $200,000-300,000). Also offered is a very rare inscribed rhinoceros horn cup, a classic carving of a classic carving of a male figure in a landscape bearing a poetic inscription, 17th century (estimate: $120,000-180,000); and an extremely rare rhinoceros horn cup, supported by a squatting monkey symbolizing longevity, 17th/18th century (estimate: $60,000-80,000).

Ivory carvings
Ivory carvings that demonstrate an extremely high level of precision of carving and exquisite workmanship are very valuable. The beauty of the material, along with its smooth feel and the lovely sheen and color that comes with aging, makes carved ivory a favorite for collectors around the world.

Complex in design is an exceptional carved ivory brush pot, 17th/18th century (estimate: $100,000-150,000). This brush pot is finely and deeply carved with an intricate gathering of Daoist immortals in a landscape setting. Another ivory brushpot offered is an unusual reverse-decorated lacquered brushpot, 18th/19th century, finely and delicately drawn with a continuous scene of ladies and their attendants by a lotus pond (estimate: $20,000-30,000). A similar example decorated with panels of flowers is in the Qing Court collection. Further highlights include a rare ivory peach-form water pot, Yongzheng/Qianlong Period (1723-1795) (estimate: $20,000-30,000) and a finely carved ivory wrist rest, Qianlong Period (1736-1795) (estimate: $20,000-30,000), both probably from the Imperial workshops; and an attractively carved ivory figure of a lady, 18th/19th century (estimate: $12,000-18,000).

Works of Art
With its excellent array of aesthetic and academic works of art, the sale offers the perfect opportunity to strengthen a collection or inspire interest in this fascinating field. Among the highlights are a very rare imperial Songhua stone inkstone, box and cover, Qianlong Nianzhi fourcharacter mark and of the period (1736-1795) (estimate: $250,000-280,000), esteemed not only for its color, but for its effectiveness and ease in the grinding of the ink; a very rare zitan and lingzhi fungus table screen, Qianlong period (1736-1795) (estimate: $150,000-180,000), both botanically rare and auspicious; a rare large inscribed Duan stone scholar’s rock, 18th/19th century (estimate: $60,000-80,000), unique in size, naturalistic shape and its carved decoration of bamboo, orchid, chrysanthemum and plum blossom; and two paintings- Happiness through Chan Practice: Portrait of Wang Shizhen, a handscroll by Yu Zhiding (1647-1716) depicting the writer and poet dressed as a Buddhist monk (estimate: $120,000-180,000) and a hanging scroll titled Peach Blossoms amidst Flowing Waters: Portrait of Qiao Lai by an anonymous 17th century artist (estimate: $30,000-50,000).

Image: A very rare rhinoceros horn cup 17th century. Finely carved with the poet Tao Yuanming admiring a chrysanthemum sprig while seated beside a wine jar in a setting of bamboo and rocks, some forming the handle at one end below a pine branch that continues over the rim 6.3/8 in. (16.2 cm.) long. Estimate: $200,000-300,000. Photo: Christie’s Images Ltd 2010