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Hammer to Come Down on Ancient Treasures
An auction of ancient Chinese art treasures and a public viewing will be held in Hong Kong between April 22 and April 25.

Entitled "Art Treasures of the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties," the sale, organized by the Hong Kong Auctions International Co Ltd, consists of 168 rare and exquisite porcelain and ceramic items, paintings and calligraphy, and other art works.

The lots were contributed by overseas art collectors and connoisseurs, according to the auction's organizer.

"Our upcoming spring auction will display to the public a wide array of superior art works of ancient China. Such invaluable Chinese national treasures are hardly available at today's global market of Chinese antiquities, each selected with extreme caution," said Kwong Lum, the auctioneer's chief consultant.

"A conservative evaluation of these remarkable museum pieces is well over 100 million Hong Kong dollars (US$12.8 million)."

A celebrated Chinese-American artist, specialist and connoisseur of traditional Chinese art, Lum is also president of the New York-based Overseas Chinese Cultural Renaissance Association, founder of Lyric American Expressionism and co-founder of the unconstrained freehand cursive script.

According to Lum, the company's committee of consultants includes world-famous Chinese, European, and American art experts such as Xu Bangda, Zhang Juncai, Karl Appel and Robert Morgan.

"To meet the ever-increasing demand of museums and private collectors for the finest ancient art works, some leading researchers from the Palace Museum in Beijing and China's State Administration of Cultural Heritage came to work with us in Hong Kong earlier this year," Lum said. "They were amazed at the rarity and beauty of our auction lots."

Of the lots to be auctioned, the most outstanding is an imperial enamel famille-rose vase bearing a four-character red-on-gold seal mark of Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong (reigned 1736-1795).

The vase, which is on the cover of the auction catalogue, is comparable in its refined workmanship to that of two smaller vases currently in Beijing's Palace Museum.

"This vase, with a starting price of HK$10 million (US$1.28 million), is considered even rarer due to its much more technically demanding craftsmanship and its unusual imperial seal mark of 'Qianlong Yuzhi (Made for the royal use of Qianlong)'," Lum said.

Another equally eye-catching item is a famille-rose dish-mouthed porcelain vase with a double-circled six-character seal mark of Qing Dynasty Emperor Yongzheng.

The graceful vase makes a perfect match in both its shape and workmanship with a highly prized Yongzheng vase kept nowadays by Beijing's Palace Museum.

In addition, the highlights of the auction also include a Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) blue and white underglazed red vase, two hanging scrolls titled "The Horse, the Groom and Age-old Trees" and "Resting in the Spring Breeze" by the Yuan and Ming dynasty painting masters Zhao Mengfu (1254-1322) and Tang Yin (1470-1523), Lum said.

Also among the exhibits are a powder blue Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) Longquan vase with phoenix ears, a Ming Dynasty Emperor Jiajing (1522-1566) red and green vase with gold double gourd, a Ming Dynasty Yongle (1403-1424) bronze seated Guanyin, an imperial famille-rose enamel vase with gold lotus, a famille-rose enamel deer-head vase with landscape open-window designs, and an underglazed blue, yellow and copper-red flask of the Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong (1736-1795).

"The two imposing masterpieces by the Yuan and Ming painting masters Zhao Mengfu and Tang Yin used to be collected by my teacher, the late Hong Kong painting master and art collector Ting Yan Yung," Lum said.

He said, in 1969, Ting passed part of his most treasured art collection, including these two painting scrolls and a fish-floral album by the early Qing Dynasty artist Zhu Da (1626-1705), to the famous New York-based Shiyangtang, House of Perpetual Sunshine.

"We consider our (auction) an inseparable part of our long-term cultural project of bringing long-lost Chinese national treasures back to China through our extensive social connections overseas and expertise in the field.

"For the realization of such a grand goal, we need the substantial support of society, particularly art museums and private collectors and connoisseurs."

Absentee and telephone bids will be accepted during the action at the Conrad International Hotel.

Payments in Chinese currency are acceptable if agreed in advance.

(China Daily April 11, 2003)

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