Metropolitan Museum Porcelain Sold Well At Christie's Auction
Christie's New York, Auction Results; $12,099125, Sold Rate 100%
Asian Works of Art, September 15, 2016
Deaccessioned Items from the Metropolitan Museum
Collected in America: Chinese Ceramics from The Metropolitan Museum of Art
If you saw the terrific catalog and are curious, good news! The deaccessioned Metropolitan Museum porcelain sold well at Christie's auction of Chinese art this month. Most lots flew through their estimates achieving an amazing 100% sold rate. The September 15th sale featuring objects of Song to Qing Dynasties attracted enthusiastic interest on all levels surpassing expectations .
Never underestimate the power of provenance, especially when the Metropolitan opts to clean out some cupboards. They have GREAT cupboards! The 203 lot sale wasn't the very best of the Met's collection, however selling in the $100,000 to nearly $2,000,000 range were some very choice examples.
Provenance-Provenance-Provenance, It really Does Matter
Collectors love good provenance, it adds interest to a piece and value. Few names associated with Asian art carry more weight than those associated with this auction's offerings. The auction included prior donations from Samuel T. Peters, Isaac Fletcher, Samuel Putnam Avery, Sr., J. Pierpoint Morgan, Benjamin Altman, and John D. Rockefeller. Also sold were acquisitions made possible by the Roger's Fund.
With names like the above attached to every lot, is it any wonder auction buyer's flocked to Rockefeller Center? Additionally, the modest estimates also sent a clear message that these items were there to be sold. For collectors, great objects and low estimates are an irresistible siren's song.
Other sales conducted that week grossed more in dollars, but none were more interesting. Many had provenance, but few had ownership histories on a par with the Met's offerings.
Once Belonging to JP Morgan and John D. Rockefeller, Jr.
Both JP Morgan (1837-1913) and John D. Rockefeller, Jr.s (1874-1960) were avid collectors in many areas. One they shared, in particular, were porcelains of the Kangxi Period (1661-1722). Many of the Chinese porcelains owned by John D. Rockefeller had once belonged to JP Morgan. When Morgan died in 1913, the prominent antique dealers Duveen Brothers was tasked with selling Morgan's collections. In 1915 John D. Rockefeller,Jr. was so enamoured with Morgan's collection, he borrowed $2,000,000 from his father to buy much of the collection. As a result, a number of the pieces sold in the auction had the provenance of both men. At that time Rockefeller had only been interested in Chinese porcelain for two years.
John D. Rockefeller, Jr's letter to his father John D. Sr, requesting the funds to buy Chinese porcelain from the Morgan collection.
“I have never squandered money on horses, yachts, automobiles or other foolish extravagances, A fondness for these porcelains is my only hobby – the only thing on which I have cared to spend money. I have found their study a great recreation and diversion, and I have become very fond of them. The money put into these porcelains is not lost or squandered. I think you do not realize how much I should like to do it, for you do not know the beauty and charm of these works of art.” (R. Fosdick, John D. Rockefeller, Jr., A Portrait, New York, 1956, p. 335)
Famille Verte Kangxi Vases
Previously owned by these two legendary collectors and sold in the sale were a number of Famille Verte examples . The bottle vase illustrated here was just one from John D.'s purchases from the Morgan collection. It sold for $341,000, ten times above the low estimate. A well-known type but of superior quality with terrific decorations.
A Rouleau vase donated to the Met in 1960 by Rockefeller brought $112,500. The Famille Verte with overglaze blue vase measuring over 28" tall with profusely decorated enamels was an exceptional example.
Additional examples, once belonging to Mary Clark Thompson (1835-1923) and Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904) were sold.
Peachbloom For The Scholar's Table, Mary Stillman Harkness (1874-1952) Collection
Featuring prominently in the auction were the legendary Peachbloom wares. Numbering 6 in total given to the MET by Standard Oil heiress Mary Stillman Harkness. Mrs. Harkness, despite her vast wealth and generosity to numerous organizations, was by choice, not a household name during her lifetime or since. She was a patron of the arts and collected among other things Chinese porcelain.
One of the stars of the Metropolitan Museum's offerings was a rare, splendidly colored Chrysanthemum vase. Measuring 8.5" tall with coloration, of "crushed strawberry's" was just perfect. The bidders agreed with the estimate of $700,000-$900,000, it sold for $905,000.
Another, even more, rare example, was the "Three String" vase. An extremely fine type with strong pink tones measuring 8.25" and very evenly colored. Beautifully shaped with a well-rounded shoulder leading to a trumpet form neck and flared mouth, it was perfect. Also estimated at $700,000 - $900,000 it blew past the high estimate climbing to $2,045,000.
Under the bases both vases bore the six character mark's of the Kangxi Emporer , done in cobalt blue.
To view the entire catalog and others from Christie's, CLICK HERE