And this makes four! Will this new opus be as successful as the previous ones? Let's hope so.
Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), oban tate-e, from the series "Shokoku Taki Meguri, Waterfalls of the Different Provinces", plate Kisoji no oku Amida-ga-taki, Amida's Waterfalls in the Vicinity of the Kisokaido Road, 37.3 x 25.7 cm/13.8 x 10.1 in.
The names of Robert (1903-1968) and Isabelle (1915-2010) de Strycker are among those that regularly reappear in auction rooms, and resonate for insiders as the promise of outstanding pieces with impeccable provenance. The three sales organized by Piasa in 2007 and 2013 introduced the general public to the impeccable taste of this Belgian collecting couple, and played a role in Drouot's heyday. Let's go back to the beginning of this century: on December 5, 2007, Chinese lacquerware launched this cycle of auctions and raised €2,935,000. A few years later, on June 10 and December 9, 2013, porcelain was fiercely contested over two days and raised €3,169,000 and €2,176,000 respectively. While all these sales were dedicated to China, this year's auction, led by Beaussant Lefèvre & Associés, is primarily focused on Japan.
Much has already been written about the couple's background and taste for Asian art, which is said to have originated with a visit to the British Museum in the 1930s. However, it should be noted that the couple maintained a lively correspondence with the English collector and specialist in lacquer and porcelain Harry Garner (1891-1977), as well as with the Czech collector and expert Fritz Löw-Beer (1906-1976). Robert de Strycker was very fond of Japanese artworks—and more particularly of prints—which he acquired from galleries in Brussels, Paris and London. He kept them in drawing boxes, protected from light. Thus they remain in a remarkably pristine condition. The dispersal of these more than 600 lots of prints is in itself a real event, since such a collection had not been seen for years.
Prints and Series
They are all there, the greatest masters of ukiyo-e. First and foremost among them, Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) is one of the most represented. While the Great Wave of Kanagawa is not included, other highly prized landscapes by the "old painting fool" are present, such as this oban tate-e from the series of "Waterfalls of the Different Provinces", a plate depicting the Amida Waterfalls in the vicinity of the Kisokaido Road (35.3 x 25.7 cm/13.8 x 10.1 in, see photo), which is estimated at €8,000/10,000. Acquired by the couple in 1945 in Brussels, it hails from the former Crespin Collection. As illustrious as his contemporary, Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) is also featured prominently with what is probably his most famous work. A suite of 44 aiban yoko-e from the "Fifty-Three Tokaido Stations" series—highly sought after by connoisseurs—is offered at €8,000/12,000. It was so successful when it was published in 1833 that it gave rise to some collaborations of artists who made their own version. This is notably the case for the Tokaido gojusan tsugi series, “The Fifty-Three Stations in Pairs of the Tokaido,” of which a set of 55 oban tate-e drawn by Utagawa Kuniyoshi (1797-1861), Utagawa Kunisada I (or Toyokuni III, 1786-1864) and Utagawa Shigenobu (or Hiroshige II, 1826-1869) can be bought for €10,000/15,000. Less well known in the West, Kuniyoshi has seen his value rise in recent years among collectors who appreciate his bold use of color and his avant-garde framing. An important oban tate-e triptych from the series "Yoshinoyama Kassen, the Battle on Mount Yoshino" (see photo), showing the monk Yokogawa Kakuhan chasing Sato Tadanobu, leaning on the roof of the pagoda, should capture people’s attention at €4,000/6,000.
While prints are king, occupying two of the three days of the sale, works of art from China and Japan open the auction. From the Middle Kingdom, a Hu form vase in red and black lacquer, bearing the apocryphal mark of Qianlong on the reverse, will be noticed, with an attractive estimate of €3,000/4,000 (see photo). Emblematic of the refinement of the ‘Land of the Rising Sun,’ inrô and netsuke will delight all lovers of these delicate objects. Among the inrô, a four-case model in the shape of a jar with rich lacquer decoration in several colors (€1,200/1,500, see photo) will appeal, while among the netsuke, a wooden specimen from the Edo period depicting a dragon curled up on itself, holding a pearl in its claws, is likely to provoke the fiercest battles. €2,000/3,000 (see photo) will be needed to tame it.