20th century plaques send auction bidders into a frenzy

Two 20th century famille-rose figural plaques absolutely rocked auction goers when they achieved more than 24 times their catalogue estimate at Sotheby’s Australia’s Melbourne October sale of Treasures: Important Asian, Australian & European Arts & Design.

With Sotheby’s estimating the plaques at a modest $5000-$7000, bidders went berserk with the successful purchaser eventually paying $122,000 for the two Chinese plaques.

One depicts Tao Yuanming appreciating chrysanthemum flowers – the sage conversing with a young boy carrying a jardinière of flowers, and with a seal of Wang Dafan.

The other shows the story of Su Shi visiting Red Cliff – with three figures in a boat – again with an inscription signed by Wang Dafan.

The auction brought more than $1.57 million for the 71 lots sold, with an historically important early view of Melbourne from the Botanical Gardens 1865 by Henry Gritten selling for $91,500 and a Francois-Leon Sicard sculpture bringing $67,100 – a new auction record for the artist.

Other sale highlights included a gilt decorated agarwood bead necklace changing hands for $67,100 (low estimate $4000), Tim Storrier’s Evening 1995 bringing $46,360 (low estimate $15,000) and Albert Tucker’s Woman 1950 selling for $42,700 ($12,000-$18,000 estimate).

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