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Artcurial, sensational Asian art sales

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Toshusai Sharaku (active 1794 - 1795)

Bust portrait (okubi-e) of the actor Morita Kan'ya VIII as Uguisu no Jirôsaku, the palanquin bearer, on a gray micaceous background, in the play Katakiuchi Noriaibanashi, a selection of revenge tales, given in the 5th month of 1794 at the Kiri Theater / Sale In the Time of Japonism - May 23, 2018

Created in 2011, the Asian Art department benefits from the expertise and international reputation of Philippe Delalande. Alongside Shenying Chen, he has reinforced Artcurial’s position and influence in this field, guaranteeing the authenticity and quality of the pieces presented.

The department thus maintains privileged links with the most important collectors, guaranteeing them the highest standards of expertise. At the same time, sellers are assured of the utmost rigour in the presentation of their collections – the marketing, the highlighting of the value and the securing of the highest prices at auction.

The market for Asian art has evolved rapidly over the years, with spectacular auctions highlighting the great specialities: porcelain, Buddhist sculptures, ancient bronzes, jades, paintings and prints from all regions of the Orient – China, Japan, Cambodia, India, etc. – from Antiquity to the present day.

Its growth is also driving bidders to fight for these remarkable objects, resulting in some impressive bids: in 2018, a bust portrait of Toshusai Sharaku fetched €616,600, well above its initial estimate, and in 2020, a grey limestone statue of a Bodhisattva was sold for more than €1.3m.


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Carved in the Six Dynasties and Sui style in high relief, standing on a circular base in a frontal attitude, the lowered right hand holding an attribute, the raised left hand (missing) originally holding a lotus stem rising above the shoulder.

H. 125 cm (49 1/4 in.)

Provenance : Edouard des Courières Collection (1896-1987)

Collector and art critic, he is the author of several monographs on famous artists such as Armand Guillaumin, Kees Van Dongen, Pompon and Chana Orloff (1927). He collected throughout his life in many fields including Chinese sculpture as mentioned in the July 1957 article "Les Belles Demeures de Tanger", Revue Touristique du Maroc et de Tanger, no. 38.

This figure of Bodhisattva is close to the sculptures described by Osvald Siren in his reference book Chinese Sculpture from the Han Period to the Ming Period, 1930, in a chapter entitled 'Sculptures in the Six Dynasties style of later execution'.

Some of these imitations date from 1900 to 1920, others are revivals of old styles that can be dated to the Song, Yuan and Ming periods. Our sculpture takes the style of pieces from the Six Dynasties (like the dress very close to the body with stiff folds) or the Sui (like the crown).

The facial features and the carved halo are similar to the sculpture of a seated Bodhisattva from the Freer Gallery (Washington), considered late (probably Ming) by Osvald Siren (Pl. 286 of his work and 72 of the article). The seated Amitabha Buddha exhibited at the Cernuschi Museum, considered to be from the Song period, is an example of these sculptures that later adopted the canons of the Northern Qi and Sui periods. It has a frieze of leafy scrolls in the halo very similar to our sculpture.

All these works have the same grey stone and patinas as the sculptures in the southern caves of Xiangtangshan (Hebei province) dating back to the Northern Qi (6th century) and extending through the following dynasties to the Ming.

Bodhisattva Statue, China, Grey Limestone /

Art of Asia Sale - December 21, 2020

Next Asian Art :

June 13, 2023 



Shenying Chen / Administrator

Phone: +33 1 42 99 20 32

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