Chinese art from a German family collection offered at Bonhams Cornette Saint Cyr
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Chinese art from a German family collection offered at Bonhams Cornette Saint Cyr
Rare carved cinnabar lacquer cover originally made for a large box 40,000-60,000 €. Photo: Bonhams.

PARIS.- Bonhams Cornette Saint Cyr announces the auction of Chinese Art from a German Family Collection in Paris on 26 October 2023.

Formed over many decades, this formidable collection estimated at more than €2.5 million covers a wide range of works of art from the early dynastic periods to the 20th century. The collection has a strong focus on Buddhist sculpture, as well as early ceramics and imperial porcelains, jades and cloisonné enamels, scholarly objects, furniture, and classical and modern paintings, reflecting the broad interests of the collectors whose curiosity extended well beyond the arts of China.

Asaph Hyman, Global Head, Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art, comments, “It is a great pleasure to offer this collection, formed over many years, building on the success of the Rousset Collection sale last year and the first Chinese Art sale held in Paris last June. We very much look forward to welcoming once again worldwide collectors to our rooms at Avenue Hoche, and indeed to the sales in London the following week.”

Caroline Schulten, European specialist, Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art, adds, “Each object has a story to tell and many pieces in the collection originally came from German collections formed in the early 20th century, quite a few of them published and exhibited.”

The sale is led by an exquisite group of Buddhist sculptures which include a rare limestone bodhisattva head dating to the Liao/Jin dynasty (estimate: €15,000 – 25,000), as well as several large Ming dynasty gilt-bronze sculptures, including a wonderfully expressive and large gilt-bronze figure of Shancai Tongzi (Sudhana) (estimate: €30,000-50,000) and a rare large gilt-bronze figure of Songzi Guanyin from the Ming dynasty (estimate: €30,000 – 50,000).


• A fine and rare Longquan celadon ‘phoenix’ mallet vase (estimate: €40,000 -60,000), bought by a German collector in 1953 from the Munich dealer Ludwig Bretschneider (1909-1987).

• A rare large blue and white 17th century brushpot, from the transitional period between the Ming and Qing dynasties (estimate: €40,000-60,000). The brushpot features the immortal Xu Xun and other demon quellers battling demons and ghosts. Very few examples of blue and white porcelain decorated with this subject are known. The piece was acquired from the descendants of Max Mueller (1867-1960), German consul in Shanghai who formed his collection of Chinese art in China between 1905 and 1912.


• A huanghuali yokeback armchair (estimate: €40,000-60,000), originally acquired in Hong Kong from the renowned dealer Charlotte Horstman and was in the collection of Hans Wilhelm Siegel (1903-1997).

• A stunning metal-mounted huanghuali kang table (estimate: €30,000-50,000), featuring exquisitely carved aprons with pairs of dragons and elaborately carved feet. The gilt-metal mounts are a rare feature and can be found on few other examples.

Scholarly objects

• A rare and large zitan brushpot carved from a single block of wood and modelled in the shape of a tree trunk with lingzhi growing from its sides (estimate: €30,000 - 50,000).

• A large ruyi sceptre made from Dehua porcelain is a rare if not unique example of its kind (estimate : €15,000-20,000). With its creamy-white glaze it resembles ivory and its organic design of stylized lingzhi is highly auspicious.

Imperial art

• A rare carved cinnabar lacquer cover featuring the imperial five-clawed dragon design which was originally made for a large box (estimate : €40,000-60,000). The only other example, the companion piece to this cover, is in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei.

• A large imperial cloisonné enamel incense burner in the shape of a ludan which features a Qianlong six-character mark and of the period (1736-1795) (estimate: € 40,000-60,000).

Classica and Modern Paintings

• A fine handscroll attributed to Tang Yin (1470-1523), titled ‘Playing the lute under pine trees’ (estimate: € 20,000-30,000).

• A calligraphy painting by Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), dated 1957 (estimate : €15,000 -20,000). It was presented to German film director Herbert Seggelke (1905-1990) by Zhang Daqian himself in Paris in 1957 after the screening of his film '1000 Little Characters' (Tausend Kleine Zeichen), a film on the development of Chinese script awarded the 'Silver Bear' award at the 1957 Berlin Film Festival.

Additional highlights from the collection include:

• An archaistic gilt-bronze and cloisonne enamel censer, fang ding

• Qing dynasty, Kangxi period, 16th/17th century (Estimate: €25,000-40,000)

• A rare naturalistically carved Zitan brush pot, 18th century. (Estimate: €2,500-3,500).

• A rare lacquer-gilt wood figure of the thousand-armed Guanyin, Kangxi period (1662-1722) (Estimate: €10,000-15,000)

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