Modest Chinese panel fetches record Australian auction price

Somehow a 19th century Chinese Qing Dynasty framed panel (lot 940) with the modest catalogue estimate of $250-$350 scooped the auction pool at Melbourne-based Leski Auctions Decorative Arts & Collectables on August 14 and 15 when it changed hands for a staggering $47,800 including buyer’s premium.

Bidding for the panel was extraordinary as 87 per cent of lots sold across two sessions with Leski Auctions auctioneers spending almost 20 hours on the rostrum in an empty auction room because of current Victorian COVID-19 restrictions catering to online, telephone and absentee bidders.

Perhaps the frustrations of the coronavirus pandemic is to blame for items that normally might not attract a second glance fetching such massive prices.

Whatever the reason, Leski Auctions and the vendor were more than happy with the eventual hammer price.

The second highest item – a circa 1853 Chinese export silver two-handled presentation cup (lot 7) by Cutshing in Canton – sold for $39,435 on a $5000-$7500 estimate, while a 19th century Chinese silver teapot (lot 8) brought $31,070.

Lot 25, a rare Georgian sterling silver centrepiece circa 1771 by Emick Romer of London (lot 25) sold for $23,900.

The son of Norwegian goldsmith Michelson Romer, after moving to London Emick became renowned for his silver epergnes and apparently enjoyed royal patronage from George III and Queen Charlotte.

A vintage Georg Jensen yellow gold necklace designed about 1965 by Tuk Fischer (lot 811) was another pleasing result, bringing $16,730, more than double the catalogue estimate.  

Dino Martens circa 1950 “Vetro Epico” Murano glass jug (lot 325) sold for $13,145 against a $5500-$6500 estimate and an unusual 19th century English glass dump doorstop (lot 284) had another vendor jumping for joy when its $400-$600 estimate turned into an $11,950 auction result.

An oil painting entitled Blossom Trees (lot 1183) by Indonesian artist Haji Widayat (1919/23-2002) returned a solid $10,755 on a $300-$5000 estimate, while another Dino Martens design (called “Oriente”) Murano glass vase (lot 330) – engraved “Omaggio A. Dino Martens + Aldo Polo, A. Bon – brought $10,157.50.

A master glass blower who executed designs for Dino Martens at Aurelio Toso, Aldo Bon’s son Bruno later became a director of the company. Signed pieces of Dino Martens designs are extremely rare and this one is most likely Bruno’s tribute to his father and Martens.

Also included among the top selling items is a circa 1900 Amphora “Wingless Horned Dragon” Austrian pottery vase (lot 209) stamped “Stellmacher, Teplitz.


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