Freeman's
Tastemaker Michelle Lao

Department Specialist


Published: 8 September 2015

The Tastemaker Series | Michelle Liao

This year’s Asian antique auction has a large and wonderful collection of objects, including porcelain, jade, paintings, bronze statues, textiles and furniture. The pieces are from many individual lifetime collections and all together in the gallery space they have a sense of abundance and richness.

- Tastemaker Michelle Liao

Freeman's Asian Arts sale on September 12 will kick off the autumn auction season. Offering a thoughtfully curated selection of imperial and scholarly works,  from rare cloisonné enamel, to traditional bronze figures, and paintings spanning the 16th to 20th centuries, our upcoming Asian Arts sale is a celebration of the ceremony and tradition of the fine and decorative arts of China, Japan, Korea, Tibet, and beyond. To help us kick off the start of our auction season, we invited the renowned Michelle Liao to be our first Tastemaker of the autumn.  Ms. Liao, a collector and broker of fine antique Chinese and Japanese furniture, objets d'art and textiles, has been profiled in the Philadelphia Inquirer ("...impeccable taste...") and the New York Times, and her firm the Liao Collection has attracted attention from buyers, designers, and celebrities across the globe. Her admirers include Vivienne Tam, Donna Karen, and the head of Freeman's Asian Arts department, Richard Cervantes.

This past Friday, Mr. Cervantes led Ms. Liao on a private tour through our galleries in advance of the September 8 opening of the exhibition to the public. We took the opportunity to ask her more about her creative thought process, and to tell us of some of the pieces that caught her eye in the exhibition room.

FREEMAN'S What is the one thing you can’t live without?
MICHELLE LIAO I love many many things in this Asian sale, and would love to take home a big bundle! But what I can hardly live without is the Song Dynasty porcelain for its timeless beauty and obvious artistic quality. 

FREEMAN'S What is your personal style philosophy?
MICHELLE LIAO It goes right to your heart! You feel it instinctively or it doesn't matter...

FREEMAN'S What do you love to collect?
MICHELLE LIAO I love an object with an abstract quality to it. Such as a Chinese scholar's rock that evokes the enormous natural spaciousness surrounding it. And the Dali marble dream stones, very much like abstract paintings, also ink paintings and calligraphy, with bold strokes and a master's touch. Done with such wonderful energy and wisdom. I would love to collect these forever!

FREEMAN'S What was the last thing you splurged on?
MICHELLE LIAO I did splurge on a 12th century Khmer limestone Uma that is still stunning me every time I lay eyes on it!

FREEMAN'S Tell us about some of your favorite pieces in our upcoming Asian Arts auction...

CHEN QIKUAN (1921-2007) ACROBATIC PERFORMANCE ZHANG XIAO/DONGSHAN (UNKNOWN PAINTER) chinese school, qing dynasty A GENTLEMAN OF LEISURE What catches my eye are the Chinese scrolls and their quality!  Like the one of a scholar preparing to play his instrument "qin" in the garden on a stone slab is so clean and exquisitely painted.  And the quick playful stroke of Chen Qikuan's monkey is modern Chinese painting in example.

 

 

LOT 402
Li Fulin (dated 1828)
Scholar with Qin

 

LOT 408
Chen Qikuan (1921-2007)
Acrobatic Performance

 

 

A Chinese hand-painted book of Beijing shop signs  Zhou Peichun (1880-1910) This impossibly detailed fine documentation of shop signs from old Beijing is fantastic!

 

 

LOT 85
A Chinese hand-painted book of Beijing shop signs
Zhou Peichun (1880-1910)

 

A fine Chinese white jade 'chilong' brush washer  qianlong incised four character seal mark and of the period I also love this white jade brush washer with its fine design of a very shallow rectangular container of a lizard/dragon in the midst of it.

 

 

LOT 283
A fine Chinese white jade 'chilong' brush washer
Qianlong incised four character seal mark and of the period

Exhibition for our September 12 auction of Asian Arts is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 10:00-5:00. We invite you to join us in person at 1808 Chestnut Street to view these, and the other works being offered in this Saturday's auction.  Our Tastemaker Michelle Liao's Liao Collection can be found at 310 N. 11th Street here in Philadelphia.

View the auction catalogue

More about the Liao Collection

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