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. 

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.

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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

 

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.

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/

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.

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“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

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

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“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.”

 

Watch Clips from Season 19 of Antiques Roadshow starring iGavel Associate Seller: Lark Mason

May

05/31/14: Chinese Imperial Dress Uniform, ca. 1900 from Bismarck, Hour 2

05/31/14: Chinese Porcelain Vase, ca. 1900 from Bismarck, Hour 3

June

06/07/14: 17th-Century Chinese Transitional Wine Pot from Santa Clara, Hour 3

06/19/14: Chinese Export Huanghuali Cabinet, ca. 1740

06/21/14: Chinese Gilt Decorated Vase, ca. 1900 from Birmingham, Hour 3

06/28/15: Japanese Bronze Censer, ca. 1900 from Junk in the Trunk 5, Hour 1

06/28/14: Chinese Cloisonné Panel, ca. 1760 from Austin, Hour 2

July

07/26/14: Chinese Porcelain Water Buffalo, ca. 1880 from Chicago, Hour 1

August

08/09/14: Japanese Bronze Censer, ca. 1875 from New York City, Hour 1

08/16/14: Qing Dynasty Chinese Vases, ca. 1785 from Charleston, Hour 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lark Mason featured in the San Antonio Express News

Lark Mason featured in the San Antonio Express News, “Asian Art Ambassador at home in Central Texas” by Steve Bennett.

“When Lark Mason was growing up in Georgia, his mom owned an antique shop in Doraville, and she frequently took her son on buying trips for old treasures to stock the shelves.”

Click link to continue reading if you have a San Antonio Express News Subscription: Asian Art Ambassador at home in Central Texas

If you don’t have a San Antonio Express News Subscription, please click here: Asian art ambassador at home in Central Texas – San Antonio Express-News

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Lark Mason Associates achieves success and high figures at recent sale of fine and decorative arts

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Lark Mason Associates achieved outstanding sales in a charged auction of Fine and Decorative Works of Art that concluded on July 7. Of the 209 lots sold, the top 10 lots approached a third of $1 million total.

An impressive Russian Silver and Silver-Plate Plique-à-Jour and Enamel Desk Set captured the uppermost price-point. So energetic was the bidding that the buying was lengthened by more than an hour, and 56 bidders eventually drove the grand total for the piece to just under $98,000, including buyer’s premium.

Another Russian objet d’art, a Silvered Figural Commemorative Award dated 1856 and marked Vaillant, went for nearly $50,000 after the auction was extended for over an hour to accommodate determined bidding on the part of 42 buyers.

In addition, more than 70 bids competed for four lots of Chinese and other Asian works of art, including a oil-on-canvas titled Girl and Flowers by the contemporary Vietnamese-French artist Le Pho (1907-2001) that hauled in close to $21,000.

A long-established auctioneer in New York City, Lark Mason, the renowned author, appraiser and “Antiques Roadshow” expert, recently expanded his operations to include a division in New Braunfels, Texas, where the rich array of antique firearms that were part of the sale also aroused strong enthusiasm.

At the conclusion of the event, both the New York and Texas offices of Lark Mason Associates sold more than 81 percent of the fine and decorative art pieces on offer, well exceeding the typical performance for an auction. “I couldn’t be more pleased,” said Mason. “Fine furniture, Asian art, firearms-there was something for everyone, and the high prices are clear evidence that our sale was a smashing success!”

 

Lark Mason Associates’
Fine and Decorative Works of Art Preview –
Auction Starts Tuesday, June 23rd

Lark Mason Associates is happy to present a sale of Fine and Decorative Works of Art on, Tuesday June 23rd – July 7th.

The sale will include a large selection of bronzes, silver and ceramics from a New York City Estate.

Property will be available for viewing at the New York City office from June 29th – July 3rd.

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 UPDATE: Fine and Decorative Works of Art Auction is now live! Click here to view this auction.

Lark Mason appears on Tuscon News Now: Antiques Roadshow makes a stop in Tuscon

“It is a pleasure to see the people and solve the riddles they may have. It is not about money all the time,” said Lark Mason, Asian Arts appraiser.

“One is a large object that was created in the 14th century that is going to turn out to be in the $15,000 range,” said Mason.

Read Here: Antiques Roadshow makes a stop in Tucson

Lark Mason is highlighted in the Happening Newsfeed, artdaily.org, ARTFIXdaily, Asia Week NY PR, and AFAnews: Lark Mason Named Chairman Of Asia Week New York

A special thanks goes out to Happening, artdaily.org, ARTFIXdaily, Asia Week NY, and AFAnews for sending out these press releases! Thank you for your support.

 

Happening Newsfeed: Lark Mason announced as chairman of Asia Week New York

“Until now, the event has been organized by Carol Conover, director of Kaikodo Asian art gallery. The new chairman, Lark Mason, is founding director of iGavel Auctions and former senior vice president of Chinese works of art at Sotheby’s. He is renowned for his knowledge of Asian art, and makes frequent appearances on PBS’ Antiques Roadshow.

 

artdaily.org: Art expert and appraiser Lark Mason named new Chairman of Asia Week New York

“I am honored to follow Carol Conover as the new Chairman of Asia Week New York, and look forward to continuing the successful paths forged by her and her predecessors,” says Mr. Mason, founding director of iGavel, the online international network of independently owned regional auction salesrooms, specializing in the sale of fine and decorative arts.”

 

ARTFIXdaily: LARK MASON NAMED CHAIRMAN OF ASIA WEEK NEW YORK

Lark Mason’s stellar reputation as a leading Asian art expert, appraiser and television personality on the PBS series The Antiques Roadshow, is well-established within the art world. Formerly a Senior Vice President with Sotheby’s Chinese Works of Art Department, and a Director of Online Auctions for Sothebys.com, Mason is the author of numerous articles on Asian art, the translator of two major works on Chinese furniture, and the author of “Asian Art,” a guide to the arts of Asia, published by The Antique Collectors Club. He is also a professor in the art business program at New York University’s School of Professional Studies.”

Asia Week New York Press Release: Lark Mason Named New Chairman of Asia Week New York

AFAnews: Lark Mason Has Been Named the New Chairman of Asia Week New York

 

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Lark Mason’s stellar reputation as a leading Asian art expert, appraiser and television personality on the PBS series The Antiques Roadshow, is well-established within the art world. artdaily.org

Lark Mason Associates’ Asian Works of Art Auction is highlighted in ARTFIX daily

ARTFIXdaily: Lark Mason Associates Achieves $2.6 Million for Spring Asian Art Sale

“Lark Mason Associates’ auction of Asian, Ancient & Ethnographic Works of Art that concluded on April 22nd, 2015 had 642 sold lots with more than 3,700 bids, resulting in a total of $2.6 million including buyer’s premium. This Asian sale represents the continued strength and ability of the auction house to navigate the Asian art and antiquities market.

Eight lots sold above $100,000 each, and the top five lots combined accounted for over a millon dollars in sales. The high-value lot from this auction was a superb Mongolian Gilt Bronze Seated Figure, Tara, 17th/18th century at $487,500.”

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Mongolian Gilt Bronze Seated Figure Tara 17th-18th Century, sold for $390,000