Sotheby's has seen one of the highest sales of New York's Asia Week so far, with the "Zuo Bao Yi Gui" vessel leading its Magnificent Ritual Bronzes - Property from the Collection of Julius Eberhardt auction on September 17.
The Zuo Bao Yi Gui is an important and well-documented ritual food vessel, which dates from the early western Zhou dynasty of the 11th-10th century BC. Originally estimated at $3m, it achieved an outstanding 120% increase to sell for $6.6m.
Ritual bronzes are prized by collectors as the most impressive surviving objects from the Chinese bronze age. They were produced for wealthy individuals for use in ritual offerings to ancestors, and were deposited in the tombs of royalty and nobility.
The Zuo Bao Yi Gui is of a particularly rare form, with examples raised on a pedestal only existing in very small numbers today. Its design is highly unusual, bearing taotie masks at its corners that give a three-dimensional, sculptural quality
The Julius Eberhardt collection represents the most important group of Chinese archaic bronzes to have appeared at auction since the Albright-Knox sale in 2007. It is distinguished by its provenance, with some pieces traceable to the most celebrated Chinese collectors of the 19th century.
The majority of the vessels were acquired by AJ Argyopoulos, the Greek ambassador to China following the second world war.
Argyopoulous purchased the items through legendary Shanghai dealer TY King, and they were exhibited at the seminal 1954 Marco Polo Seventh Centenary Exhibition in Venice.
Julius Eberhardt was an Austrian architect and building contractor, who died in 2012, leaving behind this remarkable amassment.
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