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Ornate 18th-Century Chinese Ceramics Make Waves at French Auctions

Plus Sean Scully donates over 20 works to a Dutch museum, and more results from Phillips, Christie’s, and Sotheby’s.

The "Yangcai Crane-and-Deer Ruyi Vase" (18th century) sold at Soteby's Paris on June 12 for €16,182,800 (~$18.8 million) (image courtesy Sotheby’s / Art Digital Studio)
The “Yangcai Crane-and-Deer Ruyi Vase” (18th century) sold at Sotheby’s Paris on June 12 for €16,182,800 (~$18.8 million) (image courtesy Sotheby’s / Art Digital Studio)

Transactions is a weekly collection of sales, acquisitions, and other deals. Subscribe to receive these posts as part of the weekly Art Movements newsletter.

An 18th-century Chinese vase featuring an intricate landscape scene with deer, birds, and other animals, sold for €16,182,800 (~$18.8 million) at Sotheby’s Asian art sale in Paris on Tuesday. That sum — far and above the vase’s pre-sale estimate of €500,000–700,000 — is the highest price ever paid for a Chinese ceramic in France, and the biggest single lot ever sold at Sotheby’s Paris auction house.

The vase was recently discovered in a French family’s attic among other inherited objects. The seller “took the train, then the metro and walked on foot through the doors of Sotheby’s, and into my office with the vase in a shoebox protected by newspaper,” Olivier Valmier, an Asian arts expert at Sotheby’s, told the BBC. “When she put the box on my desk and we opened it, we were all stunned by the beauty of the piece. … It is as if we had just discovered a Caravaggio.”

"Baoyueping Flask" from the Qianlong era (1736–1795) sold at Rouillac for €4.1 million (~$4.8 million) (courtesy Rouillac)
“Baoyueping Flask” from the Qianlong era (1736–1795) sold at Rouillac for €4.1 million (~$4.8 million) (courtesy Rouillac)

A rare 18th-century porcelain moon flask that once belonged to Chinese Emperor Qianlong sold for €4.1 million (~$4.7 million) on June 10 at a sale organized by French auction house Rouillac. At the same sale, a painting by the Le Nain Brothers, “The Infant Christ Meditating on the Instruments of the Passion” (c. 1642), sold for €2.9 million (~$3.4 million).

Frères Le Nain, “The Infant Christ Meditating on the Instruments of the Passion” (ca 1642), sold by French auction house Rouillac for €2.9 million (~$3.4 million) (courtesy Rouillac)

The artist Sean Scully donated more than 20 of his works to the De Pont Museum in Tilburg, the Netherlands. The gift — which includes two paintings, 18 graphic works, and three photographic series — compliments a painting of Scully’s recently acquired by the De Pont, “Landline River” (2017).

John James Audubon, "Fish Hawk" (plate 81), hand-colored aquatint and engraved plate from <em>Birds of America</em> (1830), sold June 7, 2018 for $68,75 (courtesy Swann Auction Galleries)
John James Audubon, “Fish Hawk” (plate 81), hand-colored aquatint and engraved plate from Birds of America (1830), sold June 7, 2018 for $68,75 (courtesy Swann Auction Galleries)

Swann Auction Galleries’ sale of maps, atlases, natural history, and color plate books on June 7 brought in a total of $793,874. The evening’s top lot was a hand-colored elephant plate of “Fish Hawk” from John James Audubon’s Birds of America (1830), which fetched $68,750.

Cy Twombly, "Untitled" (1971), series of six lithographs in colors, on Arches and Gray Mi-Teintes paper, with full margins; sold for £489,000 (~$649,000) at Phillips London on June 7, 2018 (image courtesy Phillips)
Cy Twombly, “Untitled” (1971), series of six lithographs in colors, on Arches and Gray Mi-Teintes paper, with full margins; sold for £489,000 (~$649,000) at Phillips London on June 7, 2018 (image courtesy Phillips)

The evening and day sales of editions at Phillips auction house in London brought in a total of £3,422,313 ($4,601,642). The top lot of the day was a series of six untitled lithographs from 1971 by Cy Twombly, which sold for £489,000 (~$649,000).

Sir Stanley Spencer, “Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta: Punts by the River” (1958), sold for £3,370,000 (~$4.5 million) during Sotheby’s Modern British Art Week sales (image courtesy Sotheby’s)

The Modern British Art Week sales at Sotheby’s London brought in a total of £20,632,000 ($27,539,593) across four auctions. The top lots of the sales was Stanley Spencer’s strange and enormous painting “Christ Preaching at Cookham Regatta: Punts by the River” (1958), which sold for £3,370,000 (~$4.5 million).

Christie’s day sale of postwar and contemporary art in Paris on June 8 brought a total of €9,331,500 (~$10.8 million, including premiums). The top lot was German painter Konrad Klapcheck’s 1971 canvas “Die Terroristin,” which sold for €379,500 (~$440,000), more than tripling the high end of its pre-sale estimate.

Konrad Klapcheck, "Die Terroristin" (1971), oil on canvas, 39 3/8 x 35 3/8 in, sold for €379,500 (~$440,000) at Christie's in Paris on June 8 (courtesy Christie's)
Konrad Klapcheck, “Die Terroristin” (1971), oil on canvas, 39 3/8 x 35 3/8 in, sold for €379,500 (~$440,000) at Christie’s in Paris on June 8 (courtesy Christie’s)
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