Rare ceramics, Chinese, Indian paintings highlight NY Asian Art Week

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Sales of classical Chinese paintings, devotional sculptures from India, Nepal and Tibet and ancient ceramic and porcelain vases and jars, including a rare Ming dynasty bowl, will be among the highlights of Asian Art Week auctions in New York.

The sales that begin on Tuesday at Christie's and Sotheby's, a key driver in the global art market, will feature works of art from throughout Asia.

"I think there is something unique about these Asian art weeks in New York in that they encompass so many different cultures in Asia," said Jonathan Stone, chairman and international head of Asian Art at Christie's.

The sales are expected to attract buyers from China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and India, who are interested in acquiring their own great art, along with American and European collectors.

"What you also see is the global crossover of the Chinese buyers being interested in Indian or Himalayan Buddhist art, as well," Stone explained.

Among the top lots during Christie's sales, which are expected to generate as much as US$26 million (S$33 million), is "The Butcher,"by Indian artist Francis Newton Souza. Painted in 1962, the work from the collection of Shumita and Arani Bose could sell for US$2 million on Sept. 17.

Another highlight of the sale will be Vasudeo S. Gaitonde's painting, "Untitled," from 1971, which has a high pre-sale estimate of up to US$900,000.

During its Fine Chinese paintings auction on Sept. 16, a 17th century album by landscape painter and poet Shitao, "Plants and Calligraphy," is expected to go under the hammer for up to US$350,000, while a 2nd/3rd century Buddha figure could sell for a similar amount in the Indian and southeast Asian auction.

A very rare Ming dynasty bowl dating from the 15th to early 16th century has a pre-sale estimate of up to US$500,000 in the Chinese cloisonné enamels auction on Sept. 18.

At Sotheby's, ceramics are expected to be the top sellers in the auctions whose high total pre-sale estimate is more than US$60 million.

The "Vortex Jar," an extremely rare black-glazed, brush-painted vessel from the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and a carved plum blossom vase could each sell for US$3 million.

Another highlight is a Chinese ritual bronze wine container, dating to the 10th-9th century BC, with a pre-sale estimate of up to US$3.8 million.

In its fine classical Chinese painting and calligraphy auction on Sept. 18, Sotheby's estimates a hanging scroll by artist Zhang Daqian, "Portrait of Avalokitesvara from Dunhuang Grottoes," could fetch more than US$2.6 million.

"There are a lot of collectors who feel passionately about the pieces they collect," said Stone.

The European Fine Art Fair report 2014, commissioned by the Netherlands-based European Fine Art Foundation, showed the United States had 38 per cent of the world art and antiques market, followed by China at 24 per cent. It added that although growth has slowed in China, it remained the most important of all the newer markets.

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