Sotheby's Asia Week Auctions Achieve $45.7 Million in New York
NEW YORK, 25 March 2019 – Sotheby’s twice-annual Asia Week sale series in New York concluded this weekend, with 800+ works sold across eight auctions spanning 4,000 years of Asian Art for a total of $45.7 million – meeting the series’ overall high estimate. Coinciding with the 10th anniversary of Asia Week New York, works from this season’s sales series were sold to a diverse group of collectors worldwide, highlighted by five works that achieved prices over $2 million. Below is a look at the magnificent art and collections that drove these results.
Christina Prescott-Walker, Senior Vice President & Division Director of Asian Art, commented: "We are very pleased with the results of our spring Asia Week auctions. Strong market interest in collecting a diverse range of Asian art was demonstrated by the fact that our top three prices of the week represent Fine Chinese Paintings, Important Chinese Works of Art, and Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Art. Overall, we saw robust bidding across each of the eight sales, with strong participation from both collectors and trade from greater China. We were thrilled in particular to deliver strong results for a spectacular offering of Chinese jades sold by The Art Institute of Chicago, including a rare white jade ‘Imperial Procession’ Qing Dynasty brushpot that fetched one of the week’s top prices.
FINE CLASSICAL CHINESE PAINTINGS & CALLIGRAPHY
Auction Total $7.3 Million
Friday’s auction of Fine Classical Chinese Paintings & Calligraphy achieved $7.3 million on Friday, nearing its $7.4 million high estimate. The sale was led by Shen Zhou’s Poems on Falling Flowers in Running Script, a rare and extraordinary handscroll previously collected by Wu Hufan and kept in wonderful condition, which achieved $3 million – the top price of Sotheby’s Asia Week, and well in excess of the work’s $1.8 million high estimate. Following the loss of his son, Shen Zhou wrote a set of ten poems with a falling flower theme, perhaps inspired by seeing their colors in nature or because he was then able to allow his feelings of sadness to be expressed. In the spring of 1504, Shen Zhou shared these poems with his students at the Wu School, who composed poems in response, resulting in an exchange of 90 poems which became a celebrated story in the study of Chinese calligraphy and literature.
Xian Fang, Head of Sotheby’s Classical Chinese Paintings & Calligraphy Sales in New York, commented: “We are extremely pleased with the success of such an extraordinary piece by Shen Zhou, Poems on Falling Flowers in Running Script, which achieved $3 million in today’s sale and led our Asia Week series. The auction saw strong interest from American buyers, and continued to prove that North America remains an important source for collectors to find fresh-to-the-market pieces."
INDIAN, HIMALAYAN & SOUTHEAST ASIAN WORKS OF ART
Auction Total: $5.2 Million
The Indian, Himalayan & Southeast Asian Works of Art auction was led by A Thangka Depicting a Hevajra Mandala that achieved $2.4 million – marking new a world auction record for any Tibetan painting (estimate $800,000/1.2 million). On offer from the estate of Johannes Dutt, the work is numbered 26th in a series of which at least 18 other paintings are known. The group represents perhaps the finest of all mandala painting from Tibet in the 14th century, designed and painted with the same exquisite attention to detail and vibrant palette. Paintings from this series were first published – and recognized as masterpieces of early Tibetan art – by Robert Burawoy, in his seminal exhibition catalogue Peintures du monastère de Nor from 1978 which featured four of the mandalas. Paintings from the set are now preserved in private and museum collections worldwide.
Anu Ghosh-Mazumdar, Head of Sotheby’s Indian and Southeast Asian Art Department in New York, commented: “We are pleased beyond measure to have achieved a record price for the Thangka Depicting a Hevajra Mandala, a work emerging from a series of mandala paintings from 14th-century Tibet that rarely appear at auction. Our overall results were bolstered by strong prices for works across the many collecting categories represented in the sale, including stone sculpture and Indian miniature paintings. We saw diverse competition with buyers from Asia, Europe, the United States, and robust online participation. Overall, we are delighted with our very healthy and positive results.”
MODERN & CONTEMPORARY SOUTH ASIAN ART
Auction Total $3 Million
Sotheby's Asia Week auctions began with a spectacular array of fine art by some of the most important and avant-garde artists from India, along with a diverse selection from the Bengal School of Art and works by modern and contemporary Pakistani artists. Record prices achieved by a number of exceptional works that rarely appear at auction.
The sale was led by F.N. Souza’s Golgotha in Goa which achieved $437,500 (estimate $250/350,000). A rare work painted in Bombay in 1948, and included in the artist’s fourth solo show at the Bombay Art Society that year, Golgotha in Goa demonstrates the profound influence of Catholicism on Souza’s personal and artistic development. While Souza was an incredibly prolific artist across his nearly-seven-decade career, works from this formative period remain incredibly rare – less than 20 paintings by Souza from the 1940s have ever appeared at auction, marking this as a major event in the artist's market. The work remained in the artist’s personal collection until just a few years prior to his passing and was acquired by a fellow Goan private collector who cherished it as long as he lived.