An intricately carved white jade plaque bearing the mark of the Qianlong emperor has seen the top bids at Christie's auction of Fine Chinese Jade Carvings from the Lizzadro Collection, held yesterday (March 21) during New York's Asia Week.
The plaque trounced its top estimate of $120,000, achieving a 223.1% increase and selling for $387,750.
The Lizzadro Collection was formed by Joseph Lizzadro (1898-1972), a lapidary hobbyist.
Lizzadro's passion for cutting and polishing stone led to buying jade pieces to be reshaped to his own design. However, his respect for the original artist's work soon outweighed his passion for lapidary and thus, the collection was born.
Today, Lizzadro's accumulation is housed in the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art in Illinois, which displays more than 200 pieces of jade and other hard stone carvings from around the world.
Originating from the Qianlong period (1736-1795), the plaque is well carved in openwork in the form of a disc enclosing a pair of dragons, which flank the three-character phrase "yi zisun" (blessings for future generations).
Above, a seated figure on the back of an ibex stands among flowing scrolls. The four-character mark of the Qianlong emperor is inscribed on the outer edge.
Another fantastic consignment from the Qianlong period brought the second highest bids of the sale. A spectacular five-piece cloisonne enamel garniture, including a censer and cover, candlesticks and a pair of gu-form vases, sold for $279,750 - 366.2% increase on its $60,000 high estimate.
The Qianlong emperor's rule in China ushered in one of the greatest eras for the arts in the country's history. As such, pieces from the period often command high bids at auction. A green jade seal made to commemorate the emperor's 70th birthday sold for an outstanding $3.4m at Sotheby's on March 20.
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