News-Antique.com - Feb 25,2016 - The star lot of the sale was lot 166, A CHINESE SOAPSTONE ‘LUOHAN AND LION’ GROUP, which sold for £32,400. The carving, dated Qing Dynasty, 19th / 20th Century was naturalistically carved to depict a Luohan standing in front of a bulging sack, wearing a long flowing robe and holding a ball, a recumbent lion looking up at him, borne on scrolling clouds, decorated with finely incised carving and inlaid decoration. The reverse was carved Shangjun to the reverse. Shangjun is a pseudonym adopted by the mid-17th Century master carver Zhou Bin, a native of Zhangzhou, Fujian. For a similarly signed soapstone see Arts from the Scholar’s Studio, Oriental Ceramic Society of Hong Kong, 1986, no 44.
Lot 42, A CHINESE CINNABAR LACQUER PANEL, sold for £6,480. The piece, dating to the Daoguang era, is decorated with an outdoor scene with a group of six female musicians beneath the shelter of a pine tree that emerges from a large rocky outcrop, with an attendant carrying a qin to the bottom right of the composition, an inscription to the top left of the panel reads Dong Shan Sizhu, followed by the inscription Fang Xin Luo Shan Ren biyi Sun Zhuchen ke, with seals Zhuchen ke (carved by [Sun] Zhu Chen) and Sun Guoxin yin (seal of Sun Guoxin), 114.5 x 78cm. It comes from the collection of Ambassador Joaquim Eulalio Nascimento da Silva (1883-1965).
The panel falls into a category of large-scale narrative lacquer works including panels, screens and furniture produced in workshops within Yangzhou in the first half of the 19th century. Foremost among these lacquer artisans was Lu Kuisheng, (given name Dong c. 1775-1850) who is discussed in Moss, In Scholar's Taste, 1983.
The panel is unusually fine for a 19th Century work and makes explicit references to the art of painting. The title of the piece, Dong Shan Si Zhu, which may be translated as “Musicians on the Eastern Mountain”, describes a popular theme within the genre of figurative paintings of beauties known as meiren hua where a group of female musicians is depicted within a landscape in contemplation of the politician Xie An. More widely within the genre, paintings of beauties playing musical instruments are relatively common. The inscription of the present piece, fang xin luo shan ren biyi, makes direct reference to the artist Xin Luo Shan Ren also known as the Yangzhou Eccentric painter Hua Yan (1682-1756). An example of his work is illustrated above right.
Chiswick Auctions’ success with Chinese cloisonné enamel continued with lot 101, A MASSIVE CHINESE CLOISONNÉ ENAMEL TRIPOD CENSER AND COVER (31cm H, 90cm diameter). Qing Dynasty, early 19th Century, which sold for £6,240.
Among Kangxi era porcelain Lot 19, A PAIR OF CHINESE NARRATIVE SUBJECT DISHES, made £5,040. Lot 25, A CHINESE YELLOW AND GREEN BOWL, made £6,000.
Finally, the expanded offering of Chinese export art yielded some pleasant surprises. Lot 177, A PAIR OF CHINA TRADE OIL PAINTINGS, made £3,840, whilst lot 175, A CHINESE BLUE AND WHITE