PARIS—Rare offerings yielded impressive results in two auctions of Asian art at Sotheby’s and Christie’s late last month. In a strong sale at Sotheby’s on Dec. 18, 377 lots fetched a total of E7.8million ($11.3million). Of the lots, 255, or 68 percent, were sold; by value the auction was 90 percent sold. A blue-and-white porcelain flask dating from the Ming dynasty, Yongle period (1403–24), was the top lot of the auction, far surpassing its estimate of E200,000/300,000 to sell for E1.7million ($2.5million) and setting a record for any sale at the house in Paris last year. One highlight was a Chinese blue-and-white porcelain moon flask from the Qing dynasty, Qianlong period (1736–95), which fetched E432,750 ($623,360) against an estimate of E18,000/25,000.
Other surprisingly strong prices included that of a porcelain hat stand from the Qianlong period, which fetched E252,750 ($358,900), more than 20 times its estimate of E8,000/12,000. A large Qing dynasty imperial seal of pale jade carved with two dragons and bearing the seal of the dowager empress Cixi (1835–1908) fetched E138,750 ($200,000) on an estimate of E25,000/35,000. And a large libation cup carved from a rhinoceros horn, Qianlong period, sold for E264,750 ($381,360), more than double the estimate of E80,000/120,000.
Several other pieces far exceeded their high estimates as well, including a pair of Chinese horses carved from pale celadon jade, Qianlong period; they sold for E63,150 ($91,000) against an estimate of E5,000/7,000. A pair of Chinese huanghuali wood tables, 17th–18th century, sold for E156,750 ($225,800) against an estimate of E35,000/40,000.
On Dec. 21, Christie’s auction of Asian art brought in a total of E3.4million ($4.9million). In all, 281, or 67 percent, of the 419 lots found buyers. By value, the auction was 81 percent sold.
The top lot of the sale was a rare Chinese green and red lacquered dish, Yuan dynasty, 14th century. It sold for E241,00 ($345,040), more than double its E80,000/100,000 estimate. A rare gray schist figure of a bodhisattva, second or third century, from the Gandhara region fetched E217,000 ($312,588), within its E200,000/300,000 estimate. A Chinese libation cup carved from a rhinoceros horn, 17th century, brought more than double its estimate of E30,000/40,000, selling for E97,000 ($139,728). Another Chinese rhinoceros-horn libation cup, 18th century, fetched the same price of E97,000 against a much lower E10,000/15,000 estimate.
One of the biggest surprises of the sale was another of the top ten lots: a pair of rare Chinese porcelain bowls decorated in copper red, Qianlong period, which fetched E73,000 ($105,156) against an estimate of E4,000/6,000. The same price was paid for a more modern piece—a nine-inch-long boat carved from a rhinoceros horn, ca. 1900—almost double the estimate of E30,000/40,000.