A Gaggle of Interests – Nov 29, 2009

A Chinese carpet Deaccessioned
A Chinese carpet Deaccessioned

In this series, the UAA team will list some of the interesting items that we have found in auctions, antique shops or eBay. We neither own the items or have the capability of examining the items in person in most cases. It mainly serves as an inventory record of what interests us (not necessarily in terms of value or investment opportunities) and possibly how much it fetches (if the result can be obtained). If you are serious about some lots, please contact the auction houses, dealers or eBay sellers directly.

1. Charlton Hall, Dec 5, 2009. Lot 521, Chinese carpet

This lot is deaccessioned from the Centennial Museum at the University of Texas at El Paso to benefit the Museum Collections Fund. I usually do not pay too much attention to carpets, but this one is exceptional in its non-symmetric oriental design: the pagoda, the plum, and other Chinese symbolic motifs such as the longevity character at each corner or the twisted branches (zhe zhi in Chinese) in the upper left are carefully balanced with empty space (in red).

2. Leslie Hindman, Dec 13, 2009.  Bronze statue of Leopold Stokowski by Boris Lovet-Lorski

Stokowski by Boris Lovet-Lorski at Leslie Hindman
Stokowski by Boris Lovet-Lorski at Leslie Hindman

One of the greatest conductors of the 20th century, Stokowski’s countenance is as much enticing as his music. There has been terms coined in the music world named after cities such as Chicago, for its brass section or Cleveland, for its strings, but nothing is more vivid and tangible than Stokowski’s sound. His transcription makes Bach sound more dramatic than Wagner, until one hears HIS Wagner. Boris Lovet-Lorski’s statue captures Stokowski’s physiognomical features and project his personality. His unwavering staring has a sense of heroic grandeur, as if almost certainly something bigger than life would soon come out of his big forehead. Boris Lovet-Lorski sculpted many busts, often on commission, including a bust of Franklin D. Roosevelt for the City of Paris in 1949 and busts of Charles DeGaulle, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and John Foster Dulles for Paris in 1959. He was commissioned to complete a heroic bronze bust of John Foster Dulles for the Washington Dulles International Airport in 1963 and a bronze bust of John F. Kennedy for Brandeis University in 1965. This is a rare chance for private hands to own an important statue of a public figure.

3. eBay item, A Postcard of War memorial Fountain of Cleveland, OH (Item number 230403914870)

This shot isn’t as easy as it looks. Getting it right brings two of Cleveland’s most monumental buildings into the same frame. If you’ve never been to Cleveland and you enjoy architectural photography, you’re missing out on a lot. It’s filled with structural treasures from the 1840s onward. Among them is Terminal Tower seen in this photo. It was built during the skyscraper boom of the 1920s and 1930s, and was the second-tallest building in the worldwhen it was completed. The observation deck was intended to be a terminal for Goodyear dirgibles, but this was ruled unfeasible, and so it was used as an overlook and tourist attraction. In the foreground we see the Fountain of Eternal Life by Marshall Fredericks, dedicated on May 30, 1964. The centerpiece is a 35-foot bronze figure representing man escaping from the flames of war and reaching skyward for eternal peace. The bronze sphere from which the figure rises represents the superstitions and legends of mankind. Four granite carvings, representing the geographic civilizations of the world, are placed around the sphere. No indication is given for the production date of the postcard. It appears to be prior to the monument’s 1991 restoration.

View Master Junior-Beautiful 50s Bakelite Projector
View Master Junior-Beautiful 50s Bakelite Projector

4. eBay item, View Master Junior-Beautiful 50s Bakelite Projector (Item number 290372182952)

Long a fan of sterioview cards, I’ve also been known to buy a ViewMaster reel or two. I already have my bakelite viewer, but tonight on ebay I noticed a 1950s bakelite viewmaster projector! I really never knew these existed. This one appears to be in great shape, and I was tempted to click “Buy It Now.” There are less expensive ones listed on eBay, this is the only one I found with “buy it now” in complete working order. The bulbs seem to go for around $25—the price of some projectors without bulbs.

A Perspective View Print of the Toll House, Paris, France
A Perspective View Print of the Toll House, Paris, France

5. eBay Item, Perspective View Antique Print of Toll House, Paris, France (Item number 260336890086)

Based on Chris Lane’s blog on Zagrascopes and Perspective Views:

The most characteristic feature of the perspective views is their emphasized linear perspective, done to further intensify the enhanced appearance of depth and illusionistic space in the prints when viewed through an optique. Another attribute of these prints is their bright, often crude hand coloring, applied boldly so to show the tints when viewed through the lens. The prints usually have a series of colors–blue, pink and yellow are common–crossing in bands from side to side, with bright highlights often including red.

Therefore, I am somewhat dubious about the seller’s description that the hand coloring is contemporary because bold coloring is an integral part of the original perspective view prints. Chris’ article discussed the inaccuracy of American scenes, some of which were actually England towns. I would guess that most of the available perspective view prints were made in Europe since America was not technically and economically advanced during the second half of the 18th century when zograscopes and perspective view prints were popular.

Beside the decorative nature of the perspective view prints, their entertainment functionality can probably be realized to the maximum degree when pared with a zograscope. I have not seen zograscope very often in the past partially due to the fact that the perspective view is a European invention.  (Luckily unlike the stereoview card which necessitates a stereoviewer, the equipment only enhances the viewing experience, thus only optional.)  The Philadelphia Print Shop has a beautiful zograscope from the last quarter of the 18th century. Check the description here.

6. Dallas Auction, Dec 9, 2009. Lot 214, Chinese Qing Dynasty Jia Qing Imperial Bowl

Fen Cai” (soft pigment) porcelain was the latest invention in China’s porcelain manufacturing when the artisans found their inspiration from Western enamelware in the 1750’s. Colors other than blue had been used in porcelain before the middle of the 17th century in China; but unlike earlier colored porcelain which could only have a few flattening colors, Fen Cai gives different shades and tones to each colors, making pictures much more elaborate. One simple way to tell a Fen Cai ware from earlier ones is the use of pink.

Soft pigment cannot endure high firing. The overglazed pigment is fired at the second time at a lower temperature in order to bind the pigment with the body. It also means perhaps they are not dish-washer friendly. If you have one like this lot, you probably won’t use it for dining anyway.

Fen Cai’s golden time was in QianLong and YongZheng period. JiaQing and DaoGuang regime marked the decline of the Qing Dynasty, which paralleled the deline of the porcelain making. JiaQing’s Fen Cai porcelain tends to be more sumptuous and opuplent in designs and colors. A lot of them feature numerous stylized flowers in rich colors (like this one), lack the delicacy and nuance made in previous reigns. 

This particular bowl is made from the official kiln and may be used for royalty. It has an official name defined by collectors: Huang Di Fen Cai Gou Lian Kai Guang Wan Shou Wu Jiang Wan, which means yellow-background, soft pigment, curved lotus, with four white circle featuring four Chinese characters: longevity and immorality. (Sorry only three English words here in translation.)

Exactly how many of this type of bowl still exist is hard to tell, but this is one that will be found in some reference books on the subject of Qing Porcelain, especially Fen Cai porcelain. Chinese have been constantly making porcelain that imitates the earlier dynasties’ or earlier periods. Thus looking at the seal “Made in Jia Qing Period” is not good enough to tell whether it is from JiaQing period or a later imitation. The craftsmanship of the bowl is amazing although some of the reference pictures I have found have darker yellow and more green on the branches. Also the character Jiang (the left word in the picture) seems to be written differently from the same word in an authenticated bowl. 

I have put the lot picture with a picture of a similar bowl from the Forbidden City Museum here.

 

A Bowl From Dallas Auction House
A Bowl From Dallas Auction House
Reference Picture for the Bowl
Reference Picture for the Bowl

About Hui

Wang Hui lived from 1632 - 1717 and followed in the footprints of his great grandfathers, grandfather, father and uncles and learned painting at a very early age. He was later taught by two contemporary masters, Zhang Ke and Wang Shimin, who taught him to work in the tradition of copying famous Chinese paintings. This is most likely the reason why critics claim that his work is conservative and reflects the Yuan and Song traditions. One critic claimed that "his landscape paintings reflect his nostalgic attachment to classical Chinese aesthetics. Along with the other Wangs, Wang Hui helped to perpetuate the tradition of copying the ancient masters rather than creating original work.

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