Chinese snuff bottles and scrolls vie for attention at Melbourne auction

Author: Richard Brewster | Posted: 11th October, 2018

A single owner collection of more than 200 Chinese snuff bottles and a private South Australian collection of Chinese scrolls head Gibson’s forthcoming Estate & Collector auction from 10.30am Sunday October 14 at Level 1, 885-889 High Street, Armadale.

Many of the snuff bottles are painted on the inside of the glass – a fine decoration such as that featured in lot 92, a work of art ‘The Lan Ting Shu’ dated Beijing 1898 and Wuxian 1901 and attributed to Ding Erzhong – or are of an unusual shape such as lot 50, a 1974 sponge coral ‘iron tree’ example.

The hanging scrolls, acquired during the 1970s and 1980s while the owner lived and worked in Hong Kong, are by a range of Chinese artists including MA Quan (1669-1722) and Zou Yigui (1686-1772).

Several marble effect patina gypsum plaster casts from original moulds by the Gipsoteca Nazionale di Firenze pay tribute to Michelangelo’s Renaissance works.

The most impressive (with an auction estimate of $15,000-$25,000) is the Rome Pieta (lot 249) – Michelangelo’s first large sculpture that audiences could view from all sides.

He was 24 when he completed the sculpture and it was one of the first works to be signed by an artist.

The subject of the Pieta (in English compassion or mercy) is the Virgin Mary cradling her dead son Jesus, the pose reminiscent of the Bethlehem nativity when she held him as a baby.

By contrast, the plaster cast of the Rondanini Pieta (lot 246, which Michelangelo worked on until six days before his death at age 88) fuses the body of the grieving Mary and her son Jesus and differs stylistically from the intricately detailed sculptures he made in his prime.

The incomplete and elongated bodies give the sculpture an abstract flame-like appearance that conveys a sense of dynamic upward motion, according to the catalogue description.

It is believed the sculpture was from series of works Michelangelo intended for his own tomb.

Collectors have the opportunity to acquire a piece of Australian sporting history in the form of the large and important circa 1884 Australian silver cricket trophy by Henry Young & Company.

Similar in shape to the Ashes trophy, it is inscribed with the words ‘The Melbourne Sports Depot, Junior Club Cricket Trophy, Season, 1884 & 1885’ along with other tributes.

Another auction feature is the private Victorian collection of maritime items including an early 20th century Japanese 12-bolt copper and brass diving helmet, antique ships wheels, ships lanterns and anchors.

Time pieces and pocket watches are well represented with examples by IWC SCHAFFHAUSEN (including a gentleman's stainlesss steel Portugieser), HUBLOT, Patek Philippe & Co, Longines, Waltham and Omega.

In Gibson’s first jewellery auction, there are antique and modern gold and platinum pieces variously set with diamonds, rubies, emeralds and sapphires that are bound to grab buyer attention.

Other items of interest include an early 20th century French large bronze model after Isidore Jules Bonheur (1827-1901) of a horse and jockey and an Aubusson pastoral scene tapestry.


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