U. S. Auction Follows Asian Art Market Growth

Submitted by Aspire on Wed, 03/16/2011 - 14:30.
U. S. Auction Follows Asian Art Market Growth

CLEVELAND , Ohio -- 16 March 2011

Aspire Auctions, based in Cleveland, Ohio, follows Asian art market trending with upcoming cloisonne auction.

As Asia finds more ways to accrue wealth, so has it found targets for pleasurable investment. Over the last several years, affluent Asians have spent millions on artifacts from their cultural past, increasing the value of these works tremendously. Consequently, the work of Chinese and Japanese artisans -- such as cloisonne, objects decorated with a painstakingly detailed enameling technique -- are in great demand.

On March 25th, Cleveland-based Aspire Auctions enters the burgeoning Asian art market with an online cloisonne sale, featuring exceptional pieces culled from two nearby Summit County estates.  This sale, Aspire believes, is the most significant since the 2007 sale of the famed Avo Krikorian Collection, which contained the largest and finest collection of Meiji Art to appear at auction in the last 20 years.

According to a recent report by The Financial Times, Asian art netted $882.9 million in sales for famed auction house Christie’s alone in 2010.  Head of Christie’s Asia, Francois Curiel, said last May, “We believe that by 2015 the size of the Asian art market will be $5 billion, compared with the whole of Europe which will be $6 billion, and the US which will be $4 billion.”  Market watchers have also noted that high-net-worth Asians -- estimated to grow at an annual rate of 8.8 percent until 2018, according to Reuters -- are moving from cash into investments, such as antique art from their homelands.

Consequently, when Aspire became aware of two cloisonne collections -- both of which resided less than 30 miles from one another in Summit County, 40 minutes from Cleveland -- the auction house moved quickly. Two major New York City-based auction houses were also equally interested, thus a series of heated negotiations were under way with the collectors’ estates. Aspire, however, prevailed. 

Of the history behind the collections, Aspire owner Cynthia Colling says, “These collections are not only interesting because of their value, but because of how they were assembled. One of these, belonging to a private collector, was built based mostly on investment value. The other collection, formerly of Mr. Robert Robinson, is that of a lifelong enthusiast. You can see how his pieces keep maturing in sophistication, the evidence of ceaseless research and travel over the years.”

The investment-based collection dates back to Japan’s Meiji era, during which a “Golden Age” of cloisonne production lasted until the early 20th century. Included in this collection are a pair of Imperial Presentation vases by master craftsman Hattori Tadasaburo of Nagoya. These possess the mon (heraldic symbol) of the Meiji Emperor and were presented to a certain Chief Auditor Saito of the Imperial Household.  Decorated with images of hibiscus and foliage done in the moriage (raised enamel) technique, these 13½”-tall vases come with the silk bags and Pauwlonia chest originally used for their storage.  A similar vase was sold by Christie’s during the 2007 Krikorian auction, fetching $107,226, including the buyer’s premium.

One of the more eye-catching pieces is a 15¾”-tall vase made by Japanese innovator Kawade Shibataro. A vividly detailed prunus tree, utilizing the moriage technique in multi-colored enamels, lies over an electrifying blue background.  Shibataro was a master craftsman who, during the late 1800s, joined the highly esteemed Ando company. The ambitious Shibataro helped introduce the French pique-a-jour technique, which gives closionne’s fired enamel pieces a stained-glass effect.  This piece is estimated at between $15-20K.

The Robinson collection features a charming kidney-shaped tray whose subject matter is based on the work of the artist Watanabe Seitei, who blended Western realism with traditional Japanese bird-and-flower painting (kachoga).  The tray, however, is from the famed workshop of Namikawa Sosuke.  Curiously enough, Sosuke was himself not an artisan; rather, he was a businessman whose workshop employed some of the most skilled craftsmen he could find.   This wireless enameling technique makes the two pigeons atop the graduated peach-to-gray background of the tray subjects appear to be ink wash drawings.  The feet, beaks, and eyes of the pigeons, however, are rendered with gold wire cloisonne.  This signed work is estimated at $12-18K.

Another marvelous piece from the Robinson collection is a 12¼”-tall vase boasting the mark of Ando Jubei, whose workshop produced some of the most highly coveted pieces of the Meiji period.   So successful was the Ando brand of cloisonne that it has lasted to the present day as a successful enterprise, tailored to fit the contemporary market.  Here, two birds sit in a pomegranate tree over a background that fades from peach to gray.   The subject matter is rendered with incredibly detailed wire work that displays the raised enamels characteristic of the moriage.  The intricate craftsmanship displayed here, in addition to its storied Ando lineage, puts this vase at the $15-20K mark.

This auction contains some of the best work created during the brief but remarkable Meiji period.  Intriguingly enough, the Japanese artisans behind this work were spurred by market forces; the Westernizing tendencies of Meiji-era Japan introduced this decorative art to wealthy European buyers.  History repeats itself, as Japanese cloisonne has once again captured the imagination not just of the West, but of the world at large.

Aspire’s catalog will be posted online at www.aspireauctions.com on March 18th; bidding begins March 25th, with closing dates of March 31st through April 2nd.   For more information or to bid, go towww.aspireauctions.com or call Aspire at 216-231-5515.

Submitted by Edward A. Sotelo, publicist 
Aspire Auctions 
Cleveland, Ohio 
(cell) 216-224-4237

About Aspire Auctions, Inc.:

Aspire Auctions, Inc. is the largest fine art and antiques auction house in Northern Ohio, predicated on sales results. Headquartered in Cleveland Ohio, Aspire has a second gallery in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania, and representation in Atlanta Georgia. Aspire provides certified appraisals, adhering to USPAP standards, and offer free auction estimates daily, either in person at home, in the gallery or via email. The auction gallery is located in the Historic Bloch Building, listed on the National Registry, in a renovated salon with large viewing rooms with natural light. All factions of the business including shipping, website, software, photography, et al, are directly handled by Aspire Staff without any third party involvement. We currently work with museums, individuals, banks, attorneys and trustees to realize the full potential of property through our auction venue.

Press Contact:

Cynthia Colling
Aspire Auctions
info [at] aspireauctions [dot] com


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