The top lot of an auction of Asian antiques held March 17-18 by Elite Decorative Arts was this rare and masterfully carved rhino horn libation cup. After a bidding war, an Internet buyer in Shanghai won it for $318,600, nearly $70,000 more than the presale high estimate.
BOYNTON BEACH, Fla. – A rare and masterfully carved Chinese rhinoceros horn libation cup from the 17th or 18th century, just four inches tall and fitted to a reticulated teakwood base, sold for $318,600—nearly $70,000 more than the pre-sale high estimate—at a sale of Asian antiques held March 17-18 by Elite Decorative Arts.
“We expected the rhino horn cup to be the centerpiece lot of the auction, and we were not disappointed,” said Scott Cieckiewicz of Elite Decorative Arts. “The object sparked a spirited bidding war before an Internet bidder in Shanghai finally emerged the winner.” Cieckiewicz added the two-day sale grossed right around $1.1 million. “It was an excellent auction,” he said.
The rhinoceros horn was of a gently flaring form. It was finely relief-carved as a wooded jungle and rendered in high relief to depict a village scene with trees and people working and resting. One side showed scholars climbing the side of a rock mountain, with many types of trees. The other side depicted a family at the base and a tall peony tree growing alongside a rock.
The auction literally attracted worldwide attention. Of the estimated 1,000 registered bidders (the vast majority of whom participated online, through LiveAuctioneers and Auctionzip), more than 100 were from Asia, about 65 were from Europe and a smattering hailed from Australia, South America and Africa. Phone and absentee bids were also accepted.
Following are additional highlights from the auction (all prices quoted include a buyer’s premium of 15 percent for in-house and phone bids and 18 percent for Internet bids):
Two other lots in the auction topped the $100,000 mark. The first was a large, five-panel, 18th-century Chinese throne screen made from Zitan wood and possibly given as a wedding present for someone of high imperial status. It brought $153,400. The use of Zitan for furniture was favored especially by the Ming and Qing imperial courts and its use was restricted to palace workshops.
The other lot was another rhinoceros horn, from the 18th or 19th century, with no carving at all. The antique horn measured 26 inches in length and was 18 ¼ inches in girth at its widest point, with a total weight of 3,666 grams. The horn realized $109,250. Its provenance was quite intriguing: Hoover Vacuum owned it, having acquired it from the Lord Montague Museum.
The auction also featured many examples of imperial-quality Chinese hand-carved red coral group figures, which were stunning in their attention to detail. Dating back to the Ch’ing Dynasty, the beautifully carved figures varied in size from seven to about 17 inches in height. They were perched on handsome fitted wooden bases, and some even boasted gorgeous silver inlay.
This large, five-panel imperial throne screen made from Zitan wood, standing 133 inches long, gaveled for $153,400.
A palatial Chinese hand-carved red coral maiden group figure, impressive and large (17 ½ inches tall), depicting two maidens with flowers and birds, incredibly carved throughout, with high attention to detail, hammered for $36,800; and a fine Chinese red coral immortals figure group depicting immortals, servants, pine trees, leaves a stork and flowers, finished at $31,050.
An exquisite Chinese hand-carved red coral figure from the late Qing Dynasty, depicting a mother holding flowers with her two daughters playing at her side, masterfully carved and with incredible detail throughout, breezed to $31,050; and a massive (19 inches tall, 10 inches wide) carved Chinese red coral figure depicting Guan Yin with four birds, changed hands for $31,050.
This impressive large imperial-quality Chinese hand-carved red coral group figure realized $36,800.
A 20th-century Chinese relief carved coral group figure of children playing around a tree and table $14,160.
A superb Chinese hand-carved red coral figure depicting a seated happy Buddha, holding a sack to his right hand with a beaded necklace and coins and a flowing robe, from the Late Qing period, fetched $28,750; and a Chinese relief carved coral group depicting a mother with a young child climbing a tree, also depicting peaches and a paradise bird, circa 20th century, hit $27,600.
A Chinese carved red coral group figure depicting three children holding up a fourth child who is riding them like a horse, finely detailed throughout and signed at the bottom “Zhu Yun,” from the Cultural Revolution period, rose to $19,550; and a 20th-century Chinese relief carved coral group figure of seven children playing around a tree and table made $14,160.
This superb Chinese hand-carved red coral figure depicting a seated happy Buddha found a new home for $28,750.
Rounding out just some of the auction’s top lots, a pair of stunning antique Chinese enameled pottery four-panel plaque table screens, each screen having four porcelain panels with a raised horses design, went to a determined bidder for $13,570. The 19th-century screens also had trees, people, fences and rock formations. Each plaque was 17 inches tall, 5 ½ inches wide.
For more information about this auction, call 561.200.0893 or 800.991.3340, e-mail to email@example.com or visit the Elite Decorative Arts website
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