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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Christie’s Presents Fall Sale of Japanese and Korean Art

Christies New York sale of Japanese and Korean Art features Arts of the Meiji Period will offer a dynamic and varied array of over 250 works on September 15.

The Japanese section of the sale will feature a group of enamel arts of the Meiji Period, screens, and bronze works, and the Korean section will offer a private collection of traditional Korean paintings, ceramics and paintings by Korean modern and contemporary artists.

Japanese Art
This September, Japanese Art will present more than 50 works of art from the Meiji Period (1867-1912). Leading the section is a lacquer book cabinet (shodana), Meiji Period (late 19th century), signed Heian Zohiko Sakusei (estimate: $350,000-450,000). This lavish cabinet is a special commission, and the art is believed to be the work of the seventh generation Nishimura Hikobei. The elaborate decoration and imagery of musicians and exotic dances with bugaku drums and curtained enclosures evokes the classical novel of court life, Lady Murasaki’s Tale of Genji. The palace is shown at the top of the cabinet, the pond and boat with musicians on the bottom, while the young butterfly dancers appear on poem squares on the side of the cabinet.

Additional highlights of the Arts of the Meiji Period include a large cloisonné-enamel vase and a pair of inlaid-bronze vases. The cloisonné-enamel vase of the 1890s is an exquisite masterpiece made in the workshop of Namikawa Yasuyuki of Kyoto, one of the most famous cloisonné-enamel artists of Japan (estimate: $300,000-400,000). The initials of an unidentified Western client, G.P., which is located on the exterior of the enamel foot, and the relatively large size confirm its status as a private order. The pair of monumental in-laid bronze vases, (late 19th century), attributed to Suzuki Chokichi (1848- 1919) (estimate: $250,000-300,000) are believed to have been commissioned by Albert Mosse, a German lawyer who lived in Tokyo from 1886 until 1890. The vases were made by the Kiryu Kosho Kaisha, a state-endorsed art trading company promoting Japanese craft industries. Suzuki Chokichi (1848-1919), renowned for his realistic ornamental sculpture, was the director of the metal-casting division of the company.

The sale will also include a massive, reticulated gilt-bronze hanging lantern, Momoyama Period (late 16th-early 17th century) (estimate: $300,000-400,000). Few such hexagonal lanterns have survived and this is an exceptionally important example. All the details are cast with great care and skill, making it one of the finest forms of metalwork from the Momoyama period. Chrysanthemum and paulwonia are associated with Hideyoshi, the Momoyama-period ruler. This gorgeous lantern might have hung from the eaves of Hideyoshi’s Jurakudai mansion.

Korean Art
The Korean portion of the sale includes both ancient and contemporary pieces. Consigned by a private collector is an eight-panel silk screen commemorating the royal celebration banquet of the 50th birthday of Emperor Gojong, Joseon Dynasty (1901), a hero of Korean nationalism (estimate: $300,000-350,000). The exceptional paintings on the panels illustrate seating arrangement, food, drinks, musical instruments, flowers, costumes, etc. It may be the last example of a Korean royal celebratory banquet (jinyeon) screen ever produced.

Christie’s will also offer over 40 works from The Jerry Lee Musslewhite Collection of Korean Art. The late American collector had a keen appreciation for Korean Art from the early 1960s during his post as Director of the Crafts shop at the U.S. Army military base in Daegu. Musslewhite began acquiring Korean art from nearby antique shops and befriending Buddhist monks at local temples. He continued to collect in 25 years in the country, and quietly assembled one of the largest collections of Joseon Buddhist paintings outside of Korea such as Assembled Deities, 1812, a hanging silk scroll (estimate: $15,000-20,000); Kshitigarbha with the Ten King of Hell, 1775, a framed, ink and gold on silk painting (estimate: $10,000-15,000); and a wonderful eight-panel Scholar’s Accouterments silk screen (chaekgeori) offered with a pair of Korean eyeglasses in horn-rim frames (late 19th century) (estimate: $20,000-30,000).

Leading the strong selection of porcelains offered in the sale is a large blue and white porcelain water dropper in the form of a mythical lion (Haetae), Joseon Dynasty (19th century) (estimate: $300,000-350,000). Modeled as a seated lion supporting a large double-gourd bottle balanced on a tasseled saddle, the vessel is an elegant example of Korean artistic mastery.

The sale also features contemporary art, including Kim Tchah-sup’s (b.1940) Hands, 2009 (estimate: $60,000 – 80,000) and Untitled #2, 1963, a colorful painting executed in gouache on paper, by Kim Whanki (estimate $30,000 – 40,000), an important Korean artist of the 20th century with unique blend of Eastern and Western sensibilities.

Image: A Laquer Book Cabinet (Shodana), Meiji Period (late 19th century)(signed Heian Zohiko Sakusei [Zohiko Company, Kyoto]. Estimate: $350,000-450,000. Photo: Christie´s Images Ltd 2010

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