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Omens of Good Fortune

On 05 February 2021, by Anne Doridou-Heim

A box inlaid with hard stones, a Buddhist figurine and a jade plaque formed a winning trio.

Omens of Good Fortune

China, 18th-19th century, rectangular box with two compartments, wood inlaid on all sides with naturalist motifs in hardstone, 20 x 26 x 15.5 cm (7.88 x 10.24 x 6.11 in).
Result: €116,480

They say good things come in threes. At this Asian art auction, three Chinese pieces—considered a lucky number in that vast empire—drew the most attention.

Each side of this dark wood (zitan?) double-compartment box is inlaid with hard-stone naturalist motifs: camellias, peonies, prunus, chrysanthemums and, on the lid, clouds, the moon and a crowned crane: symbols of longevity, prosperity and happiness. They must have worked for the former owner of this objet d'art made between the 18th and 19th century—it fetched €116,480.

A bit earlier in the afternoon, a large gilded bronze figurine (h. 39 cm, 15.36 in) made in the 19th-20th century sold for €87,100. It depicts a god wearing a tiara and a bejeweled breastplate formed of human heads and skulls menacing the Buddhist pantheon. A small light-green jade plaque (l. 7.5 cm, 2.96 in) from the first half of the 20th century featuring a stylized phoenix being reborn in the middle of water lilies fetched €42,900.

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