An Annual Exhibition: Lark Mason Associates

Asia week New York 2017

Each year during Asia Week New York, Lark Mason Associates presents a selection of works of art from all the major Asian cultures.  This includes items from China, Japan, Korea, India, Tibet, and Himalayan cultures. In 2017, the gallery presents a fine selection of Chinese huanghuali furniture, including an outstanding large recessed-leg table.

The gallery at 227 East 120th street, open all Asia Week, will remain open March 17th and 18th, 9 am to 5 pm.  Select items, including three of the below lots, will be on view by appointment in Texas April 14th to April 17th.

Huang Huali 黄花梨

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Chinese recessed-leg tables are typically constructed with a top that is a thin but highly figured panel set into a frame.  This is in turn supported by double-legs at each end, joined by a carved and pierced decorative panel. This table is unusual in the use of a solid plank for the top composed of highly figured huanghuali.

Asia Week New York 2017, Asian Art Auction, Asian art for sale, Chinese art, Chinese furniture, Huanghuali furniture, 黄花梨家具, 黄花梨,中国古董,古董,拍卖,拍卖会,美国拍卖会Huanghuali is rarely found in wide and thick planks.  This old-growth material was harvested at an early date and subsequent harvesting was restricted to smaller diameter trees. This table was purchased by the owners family in China during the 1930s or 40s while serving as American diplomats. The pre-sale estimate is $150,000-250,000. 

Ju Ming 朱銘

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Ju Ming (born 1938), an artist whose sculptural works often depict tai chi practitioners, is based in Taiwan.  His raw, chiseled sculptures are tightly constructed and energetic. His subjects carry political overtones and have found audiences in China, Taiwan, and internationally.  This sculpture depicts Zhang Fei, one of the heroes of the Three Kingdoms novel.  Ju Ming is still continuing to produce works.  The example offered is unusual and early and is estimated at $80,000-120,000. 

Lacquer 朱漆

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Chinese carved lacquer has a storied past that extends back over 2000 years. The pair of boxes in this sale are from the 18th or 19th century.  They depict idealized rural scenes with figures among mountainous landscapes with pavilions and foliage. Beautifully carved boxes of this type rarely are found in pairs and are estimated at $7,000-10,000. 

Jadeite 翡翠

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Jadeite, a material first used in Chinese works of art during the 18th century, is noted for the brilliance of green, russet, and lavender tones incorporated into naturalistic carvings. This deep-bodied censer is a fine example of jadeite wth a range of hues from light to bright green. Estimated at $40,000-60,000, the censer is expected to garner significant interest from bidders. 

Le Pho: a Lens on French Indochina

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Le Pho (French/Vietnamese 1907-2001), Oil on Canvas (dim. 34.5 by 45 inches) sold for $20,625 on iGavel by Lark Mason Associates 7.7.2015

The Artist: Le Pho

Le Pho was a French Vietnamese painter whose career began in Paris as a scholarship student at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and then in Hanoi at the Ecole Superieure des Beaux Arts de Indochine. Along with other Vietnamese ex-patriat painters including Mai Trung Thur, Vu Cao Dam, and others  his career spanned periods in Vietnam, France, and in the United States.

The documentation of paintings is important to its authenticity.  It validates an artist’s style at a particular time.  While finely executed and of a beautiful subject matter, the fact that this painting retains its original purchase receipt from 1966 is remarkable. Currently on iGavel closing on February 28th. Click here

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Le Pho (Vietnamese/French, 1907-2001), Le Vase Bleu, Oil on Silk Laid Down on Board, (dim. 31.5 by 20.75 inches), sold for $25,001.25 on iGavel by Everard Auctions and Appraisals 2.28.2017

Below is a similar example that recently sold at Sotheby’s:

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Le Pho (1908-2001), Yellow Roses, Oil on silk fixed on board (dim. 36 1/2 by 24 inches), sold for $35,461, at Sotheby’s 4.4.2016

Among this group, Le Pho enjoyed considerable success and his works regularly appear at auction.   Le Pho, whose works draw from impressionists and surrealist sources, are characterized by a lithe representation of the human form reminiscent of works by Modigliani (more info and in his later years, using splashes of brilliant color.  

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Le Pho (Vietnamese, 1907-2001), Le gateau d’anniversaire, (dim. 52 by 76 inches), sold $235,942 at Christies 11.25.2012

The Climate

Vietnamese Missionary, Alexander de rhodes, Alexandre de Rhodes, Jesuit Missionary, Vietnam missionary, 16th century missionary

French Jesuit Missionary to Vietnam, Alexandre de Rhodes (1591-1660)

Southeast asian map, free southeast asian map,

Map of Southeast Asia

French Indochina comprised political regions governed by France during the late 19th century of Annam, Tonkin, and Cochinchina, which are the modern states of Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam (more info).
The 
origins of French involvement with southeast Asia extend back to trade in spices and other materials during the 17th century, by  traders and Jesuit missionaries (more info).

The
 French government sought stronger control over territories in the region to protect their trading investments. 

Political interventions were often accompanied by military force throughout the 19th century, keeping the port cities of
Annam and Tonkin under French control. Cambodia became a protectorate of France and concessions and treaties established control of regions of Thailand and Vietnam forming French Indochina in 1887, a political confederation that survived until 1954. 

The Architecture

French art and architecture flourished in Indochina, incorporating elements of regional influence in a Beaux Arts style,where grand buildings were built in economic and cultural centers.  Travel by artists, architects, and other culturally influential individuals brought these influences to Paris.

The colonial architecture of this period in what was French indochina is today being restored.  Among these distinctive structures are the formerly Musee  Louis Finot, which is now the National Museum of Vietnamese History in Hanoi (more info)  and the Presidential Palace (more info). As this restoration takes place painters such as Le Pho and other artists whose styles uniquely displayed European and Southeast Asian influences are widely recognized.

For More information:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vũ_Cao_Đàm
http://www.artnet.com/artists/le-pho/
http://www.sothebys.com/en/news-video/videos/2016/06/modiglianis-tragic-muse.html
http://www.christies.com/lotfinder/Lot/le-pho-5751409-details.aspx
http://alphahistory.com/vietnamwar/french-colonialism-in-vietnam/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexandre_de_Rhodes
https://www.vietnamonline.com/attraction/vietnam-history-museum.html
http://www.bluffton.edu/homepages/facstaff/sullivanm/vietnam/hanoi/presidents/presidents.html

 

Asian Deities: a Primer to Religious Figures in Sculpture with a Focus on Gilt Bronze

The imagery of Asian religious sculptural figures can be bewildering. Distinguishing Chinese deities from Japanese and Indian from Thai can be a daunting challenge. With multiple materials ranging from wood to gilt bronze and figures taken from Hindu, Buddhist, and other religions it is not an easy task.

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Chinese Gilt Bronze Figure of Vajrasattva, Early Ming Dynasty $1,530,000.00

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In this primer I’ll review the most common Asian deities and provide pointers about how to distinguish the sculpture of one Asian culture from another.  This is useful as an introduction and will provide you with an insight into what terms are commonly used in this field, and what they mean.

 

 

 

 

 

MATERIALS

 

WOOD

With sculpture, there is a hierarchy of value based upon material. Generally, the most common figures are those that are made of easy-to-work organic materials, usually wood. Wood figures can be painted or, more commonly, lacquered. Small, carved wooden figures were made in large numbers and are relatively common, while large, imposing wooden figures were most often made for important religious sites, and are therefore much scarcer, and thus usually more valuable.

-Asian art for sale, Chinese gilt bronze for sale, chinese gilt bronze at auction, Buddhist art for sale, Buddhist art at auction, antique chinese art, ming dynasty chinese art.

Khmer Sandstone Torso of a Male Deity, Angkor Period, Bakong Style $12,600.00

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Chinese Lacquered Wood Figure of a Guandi, Ming Dynasty $63,000.00

STONE

Stone religious figures are similar to those in wood, but almost always created for large public buildings. Some were created as architectural embellishments, others as independent sculpture. Many were originally painted, but most have lost their pigments through exposure and often burial. There are many images of buddhas created in Jade, and Jadeite, however we will not address them in this blog.

By far, the most desirable types of religious sculpture for collectors are those in metal, usually bronze. 

GILT BRONZE

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Tibetan Gilt Bronze Figure of a Seated Lama, 16th C. $103,125.00

Bronze is created from an alloy of copper and tin with smaller amounts of other metals. Bronze is less brittle, more durable and melts at a lower temperature than iron; it oxidizes only superficially. While most Hindu and Buddhist bronze figures are undecorated, others are covered in colored lacquer, and the highest-quality figures are those that are gilded. A lacquered or gilded surface enhances the appearance, and reflects the special devotional aspects of the figure.

“figures are often associated with legends, stories of great accomplishments that are represented by symbolic imagery that is meant to remind the viewer of the event.”

Gilding bronze can be accomplished by two processes. Mercury gilding is achieved by an amalgam of mercury mixed with gold, which is heated in a furnace where the mercury evaporates, leaving the gold on the surface. Once the gold has been annealed to the surface, it is polished, resulting in a resplendent shine. A less costly and less complicated process covers the bronze with thin sheets of gold under a transparent or burgundy lacquer surface.

IMAGERY

 

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Mongolian Gilt Bronze Seated Figure, Tara, 17th/18th C. $487,500.00

In Asia, gilded bronze figures are found in the Himalayan cultures of India, Tibet, and Nepal; China, Japan, Thailand, Korea, and other Asian societies. Gilded bronze figures are the apogee of metal sculpture. Most figures have a devotional purpose and are either Hindu or Buddhistic and frequently incorporate elements from both sources. 

Images are often distinguished by their attributes, which are physical characteristics that represent an element of their personality, protective powers, or emotions. A vengeful figure will often have a grimacing expression; a benevolent figure, an expression of calm and quiet dignity. Protective figures will sometimes brandish swords or other weapons. In addition to the appearance, figures are often associated with legends, stories of great accomplishments that are represented by symbolic imagery that is meant to remind the viewer of the event.

MUDRA

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Tibetan Gilt Bronze Figure of a Seated Lama, 16th C. $103,125.00

Ritual hand gestures, called mudra, originated from dance, where positioning the hands and fingers in a specific manner would have an effect on the dancer and also convey meaning to the viewer. Many bronze figures of Asian deities have the hands displaying a particular mudra. 

The abhaya mudra represents peace, protection and the dispelling of fear.

One of the most often seen is the abhaya mudra, formed by raising the right hand to shoulder height with the arm bent and palm facing forward with the fingers joined and pointing up, while the other arm is hanging down at the side of the figure. The abhaya mudra represents peace, protection and the dispelling of fear.

GILT-BRONZE BASES

One of the helpful identifying characteristics of gilt bronze figures, in addition to the imagery of the figure, is the base upon which the figure stands. In Tibet and China, these bases are often embellished with borders of upright lotus leaves, and in many instances the base itself is in the shape of a lotus leaf.

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Sino-Tibetan Gilt Bronze Figure, 18th century, Sold for $144,000.00

In Tibetan and other Himalayan cultures, it is also common to find the underside of the base with a thin metal cover, incised with a vajra or dorje symbol, and within this sealed base is often contained a paper inscribed with a prayer.

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Chinese Gilt Bronze Figure of Vajrasattva, Early Ming Dynasty $1,530,000.00

TYPES OF FIGURES MOST COMMONLY REPRESENTED

 

BUDDHA

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Chinese Gilt Bronze Standing Buddha on Lotus Base, 17th/18th C. $108,135.60

The most important and common figure depicts Buddha, a person who has reached an understanding of the world and universe in which we live, and who exists to lead others to the same state of understanding. Some figures depict the historical Buddha, a prince who lived in the 5th/6th century B.C.E., but others represent an idealized Buddha.

 

Most figures of Buddha are seated with legs crossed on a raised base. Images of Buddha usually wear a double robe, often with an incised foliate decorated border and have long, pendulous ears and a cranial bump, called an ushnisha. The hair is tightly coiled and often has a raised bump above the eyes in the center of the forehead, called the urna, and the hands are raised in a mudra.

Although most figures of Buddha are sitting, in Thailand and other South Asian societies, figures of Buddha are often standing, reclining or walking, and unlike the figures of China, Japan, or the Himalayan cultures, the cranial bump is sometimes augmented by a spike or spire.

BODHISATTVA AND LOHAN

A bodhisattva is a person who has not yet attained enlightenment, but is on the path towards enlightenment. A bodhisattva can take many forms, and in Japan is called bosatsu. The most well-known bosatsu in Japan is Jizo, a monk, depicted most often with a shaven head and wearing a long robe. This figure is similar to but different from the Tibetan arhat, an enlightened disciple of the Buddha, called a luohan in China, who also frequently appears in the visage of a monk.

Did you know Maitreya is the only Buddhist deity revered as both a Buddha and a Bodhisattva?

GUANYIN AND AVALOKITESVARA

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Chinese Silver Inlaid Bronze Figure of Guanyin, 18th C. $8,125.00

One of the most important Buddhist figures represented in gilded bronze is that of Guanyin, the goddess of mercy or compassion. Called Kannon in Japan, or alternatively in China, as a male in the manifestation of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, this figure is often standing and wearing long, gently draped robes. In both China and Japan, this figure usually is identified by the graceful appearance, heavy lidded eyes, long pendulous earlobes, and open-necked robe revealing a long beaded necklace.  Here Guanyin is displayed in a bronze form, inlaid with silver.

Seated versions in the posture of royal ease have one raised leg with the other draped over the base on which the figure is seated. Although most often represented as female in China, the figure was also represented as male or female in other Asian cultures. Frequently, Chinese versions of Guanyin are depicted with a small child or attendant.

TARA

Tara is another popular bronze figure found throughout Asian cultures, but not often in China. The consort of Avalokitesvara, this figure is a bodhisattva, and is found standing or sitting and usually is voluptuously modeled, wearing multiple long strands of beaded necklaces, a crown, and often with lotus flowers rising from each shoulder.

There are many manifestations or characteristics of Tara, most of which are identified with the colors green or white.

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Mongolian Gilt Bronze Seated Figure, Tara, 17th/18th C. $487,500.00

SHIVA AND PARVATI

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– Indian Bronze Figure of Parvati, 19th C. $11,760.00

Shiva, a Hindu deity, is identified by a third eye in the forehead. This figure usually appears in South Asian cultures where Hinduism and Buddhism mingled. Often in a regal stance, the figure of Shiva frequently wears a crown and holds a trident, emblematic of authority. His consort is Parvati, the divine mother goddess whose manifestations are represented by all other goddesses. When alongside Shiva, Parvati is usually depicted with two arms, when alone, often with four and standing beside or on a tiger or lion.

 

From the ancient beginnings of Buddhism in India and its spread by pilgrims throughout Asia, local spiritual beliefs, practices, and imagery were adopted and adapted by the different peoples along the way. Buddhism was layered on local Hindu, animist, or other beliefs, and a pantheon of deities, gods, goddesses, spirits, forces and manifestations of human emotions and experiences combined to create the imagery that is unique to each Asian culture. Understanding the interwoven texture of these cultures is the foundation for identifying any Asian sculptural work. 

This article written by Lark Mason was first published on Antiques Roadshow website:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/fts/grandrapids_200805A43.html

ARTFIXdaily Features Lark Mason Associates and Announces Preview Exhibition for Asia Week New York

“Over 400 lots will be on view at iGavel’s New York headquarters at 227 East 120th Street, from March 9th -18th. The Asian Works of Art auction goes live on iGavelauctions.com on March 28 and closes on April 18th.”


http://www.artfixdaily.com/

Please click the link to view the fill article.

Article: http://www.artfixdaily.com/

Asia Week New York: http://www.asiaweekny.com/

Lark Mason Associates: http://www.larkmasonassociates.com/

Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre

With two fairyland lustre bowls in Abington Auction’s Fall Sale, ending October 26, 2016, one similar that was featured in the below article on Antiques and Fine Art Magazine in an article by Harold B. Nelson. I found the below article to be intriguing:

wedgwood-fairyland

Figure 1: Fairyland series by Daisy Makeig-Jones. “Castle on the Road”. Octagonal shape. Crisp detailed decorations, 24K gold trim, circa 1917

wedgwood-fairyland-1

Figure 2: interior of Figure 1

wedgwood-fairyland-2

Figure 3: Fairyland series by Daisy Makeig-Jones. “Celestial Dragons”. Octagonal shape. Crisp detailed decorations, 24K gold trim, early 1900’s

wedgwood-fairyland-3

Figure 4: interior of Figure 3

“The Staffordshire-based ceramics factory established in 1759 by Josiah Wedgwood (1730–1795), now known by the name of its founder, became widely acclaimed soon thereafter for the high quality of its functional and ornamental wares as well as its commitment to technological innovation. In this vein, Wedgwood, with partner Thomas Bentley (1730–1780), first explored lustre glazes in the 1770s in an effort to simulate the appearance of precious metals in ceramics. The company continued to produce ceramic bodies with lustre glazes into the nineteenth century—their variegated, silver, and gold lustreware reaching a height of fashion in the 1810 to 1820 period. Wedgwood’s handcraft studio revived its production of lustreware in the early twentieth century, and by 1915 the wares were once again a commercial success.

Between 1915 and 1930, Daisy Makeig-Jones (1881–1945) designed for Wedgwood a popular lustreware based on imagery from illustrated childrens’ books of the 1890s through the 1910s, aptly called “Fairyland Lustre.” The heavily detailed, brightly hued ornamental ware—a far cry from the soberly colored, classically inspired jasperware for which Wedgwood is so well known—became hugely popular in the 1920s as people looked for fantasy and escape in the wake of the horrors of World War I.

To elaborate on her designs, in 1921, Makeig-Jones wrote Some Glimpses of Fairyland, in which she recorded her own versions of popular fairy tales and invented new ones. In one story, Makeig-Jones describes the adventures of two little boys who one day venture forth from home and down a well that leads them to the Land of the Fays. They are treated well by the Fays (fairies), who eventually return the boys to their home and give them apples, plums, and pears by which to remember them. The story relays that this is how apples, pears, and plums were first brought to Europe and notes that, to the little boys, the fruit had never tasted as good as in the Land of the Fays.

Makeig-Jones’s design “Castle on a Road,” introduced in 1917, depicts two disparate vistas on adjoining panels—one, a landscape of contemporary Europe, the other, the Land of the Fays (Fig. 1). The world of reality and the world of fantasy are juxtaposed in ideal harmony.

Usually off-view, this opulent bowl, one of the most serene designs produced for Wedgwood by Makeig-Jones, is featured in the exhibition Imps on a Bridge: Wedgwood Fairyland and Other Lustres, presented at the Long Beach Museum of Art through September 9, 2001.”

It was in the 1930’s that wedgwood, saved from bankruptcy by designs like Makeig-Jones, decided it would go in a different direction.  With a new art director, the innovative designer of the Fairyland Lustre wares was asked to step down from her position.

wedgwood-lustre

Below watch TV star appraiser Nick Dawes appraise the above collection of Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre (Fig 5) on the Antiques Roadshow:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/roadshow/season/10/houston-tx/appraisals/wedgwood-fairyland-lustre–200503A51

http://www.antiquesandfineart.com/articles/article.cfm?request=225

Slag Glass: a brief introduction

american_bronze_and_yellow_slag_glass_chandelier_c1910543_2Slag glass, as we know it today, originated in England in the late 19th century as a means to produce attractive glass works with a new and exciting look for a lower cost. Formed in part as a byproduct from the iron smelting process, slag glass was being made by many different manufacturing companies in England and in America.  Rising to new levels of popularity in the early 1900’s, slag glass is no longer produced as it once was.  Though production has lagged, slag glass chandeliers and lamps are beautiful accent pieces to add to your modern home.

handel6

“Since the process of making slag glass was shrouded in a certain amont of mystery, stories sprang up to try and account for the process behind the effects. For example, it was a good bet that Sowerby’s Blue Nugget color of 1883 was the result of adding cadmium to molten glass, but how to explain Gold Nugget? Stories soon spread that John George Sowerby, son of the company’s founder, was tossing gold sovereigns into batches of amber glass to create this dramatic hue.”

Although it is unlikely that this American bronze and yellow slag glass chandelier, circa 1900, contains gold sovereigns, it certainly makes for an interesting dinner conversation.

american_bronze_and_yellow_slag_glass_chandelier_c1910543_1To view the above lot online click the link below, live until October 4th, 2016. To view in person you are welcome to join us for our open house on October 1, from 1-5pm Please RSVP at oconnoralice@aol.com

http://bid.igavelauctions.com/Bidding.taf?_function=detail&auction_uid1=4380809

To learn more about slag glass:

https://www.thermofisher.com/blog/metals/slag-from-by-product-to-valuable-construction-material/

http://www.antiqueweek.com/ArchiveArticle.asp?newsid=143

Quote taken from:

http://www.collectorsweekly.com/lamps/slag-glass

Auction Highlights | Everard & Company’s Fine Art and Antiques from Southern Estates and Collections

Everard Auctions and Appraisals is pleased to present their online auction of ‘Fine Art and Antiques from Southern Estates and Various Owners’. The auction will take place through March 3rd at iGavelAuctions.com.

620951_052The auction features a stellar group of Contemporary prints by such artists as Andy Warhol, Tom Wesselmann, Robert Motherwell, Bridget Riley and Helen Frankenthaler. One of the standouts of this group is Warhol’s iconic image of Marilyn in a dramatic color wave of green, red and yellow purchased in 1968 from the revered Miami art dealer Dorothy Blau.

 

620587_001

Other highlights include two paintings by the Polish-born Ohio-based artist Julian Stanczak. Stanczak, a student of Joseph Albers, held his first show in 1964 and was influential during the early op-art movement. These two works are from his window series created in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s and were purchased directly from the artist in the 1980’s.

 

620949_002
Also up for offer are drawings and prints by Ashcan school artists such as Bellows, Glackens, Henri, Luks, Shinn and Sloan. Works by other American artists include Benton, Betts, Curry, Davies, Hurd, Roseland, Shahn, Wiggins and Wood.

 

The auction also includes American and European decorative arts, European paintings. sterling silver including Tiffany, Asian Art and jewelry.

An opening reception will be held at 2436 Waters Avenue, Savannah, GA on February 29th from 5-7pm to kick off the auction exhibition, which will be held on March 1st and 2nd from 10am to 5pm daily or by appointment. The sale can also be viewed online at iGavelAuctions.com. Bidding ends on March 3rd.

About Everard Auctions- Since 2003, Everard Auctions and Appraisals has operated from Savannah, Georgia and holds fully catalogued online auctions on iGavelAuctions.com throughout the year.

Lark Mason Associates’ Senior Expert, Niki Tiliakos, is now an Appraiser for the Antiques Roadshow

See her Appraiser profile here: Niki Tiliakos

Watch her appraisal of a Chinese Jadeite & Diamond Ring, ca. 1920

52A_7621-thumbnail-800x600

“Niki Tiliakos has been the Senior Expert at Lark Mason Associates and iGavel Auctions in New York since 2006. She has also worked at Christie’s  in the Chinese Works of Art Department and Sotheby’s Arcade department as a consulting cataloger, working with American and European furniture, decorative art, and Asian art. Niki holds a degree from Barnard College and received her post-graduate diploma in Asian Art from Royal Holloway College, University of London, in partnership with the British Museum.”