Bonhams Hong Kong To Bring Exceptional Imperial Chinese Art To The Market

The exceptional collection of Chinese art was carefully assembled between the 1950s and the 1970s under the guidance of William Wilberforce Winkworth (1897 – 1991). It will be offered at Bonhams Hong Kong on 3 December 2015.

One of the most erudite Asian art specialists in Britain, Winkworth was arguably the greatest collector of Chinese and Japanese works of art of his time.

The son of Stephen D. Winkworth (d.1938), one of the founding members of the Oriental Ceramics Society, William Winkworth worked at the British Museum from 1922 – 1926.

Winkworth advised the owner on buying from some of the most renowned Chinese art dealers in London of the day, including Spink & Son, Sydney L. Moss, Alfred Speelman and Douglas J.K. Wright.

One of the finest and rarest of the Imperial porcelain on offer is an exceptionally rare flambé-glazed moonflask, Yongzheng seal mark and of the period (1723-1735), estimated at HK$ 3,500,000 – 5,000,000. In its form and glaze it demonstrates the Emperor's fascination with archaic shapes and glazes, with the latter inspired by the Song Dynasty jun glaze; in its decoration of the Eight Triagrams and Yinyang motif it reflects captivation with Daoism, as the Emperor was known for partaking in Daoist longevity practices.

A magnificent and large moonflask, Qianlong seal mark and of the period (1736-1795), estimated at HK$5,000,000 – 8,000,000, is a direct continuation of the previous reign. It is similar in form and design, but differs in its inspiration of the remarkable Song Dynasty Imperial ru glaze. Standing 50cm high it epitomizes the technical zenith achieved by the potters working at the Imperial kilns in Jingdezhen during the Qianlong reign.

The remarkable collection, one of few remaining in Europe in private hands of such quality, also includes other Imperial porcelain as well as masterpieces of soapstone and rhinoceros horn carvings, dated to the 17th and 18th centuries, by the masters Zixiu and Hu Xingyue.

"This unique collection is a vestige of bygone days of Western collecting of Chinese art," said Asaph Hyman, Bonhams International Head of Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art.

"It has been 'lived with' and highly admired on a daily basis for many decades. We are privileged to offer these magnificent objects for sale."


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