Department Specialist


Benjamin A. Farina
Vice President | Department Head

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Published: 4 September 2017

Walk Through the Asian Arts Sale

Freeman’s September 9 Asian Arts auction will offer collectors a wide array of Asian fine and decorative arts. A highlight of the sale is the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Gaylord and Pamela Watkins—including a fine group of Song to Ming dynasty ceramics and related wares of Southeast Asia—and a complementary private Pennsylvania collection, giving collectors and connoisseurs the rare opportunity to bid on a range of wares not often brought to auction. Additional highlights include Chinese paintings from private collections by such masters as Pu Ru (Lot 556, “Scholar Seated in a boat,” $10,000-15,000), Fan Zeng (Lot 569, $50,000-80,000, acquired directly from the artist’s studio at the suggestion of Robert Ellsworth in 1979), and Liu Dan (Lot 577, $20,000-30,000). 

Also on offer are a rare and large Chinese blue and white porcelain hexagonal vase, Qianlong mark and period (Lot 287, $30,000-40,000), and a rare Sancai-glazed Chinese tilework figure of a seated dignitary (Lot 246, $8,000-12,000), both coming from private Philadelphia collections. Notable textiles include a rare late Qing “nine-dragon” chaofu court robe (Lot 406, $10,000-15,000), together with other fine Chinese robes, textiles and court headdresses, formerly in a private California collection, as well as three imperial “dragon” rank badges (Lots 415, $2,000-3,000, and 416, $2,500-3,500). Additionally, Freeman’s is pleased to present a large 15th/16th century Ming dynasty Buddhist painting depicting Buddha Akshobhya (Lot 545, $20,000-30,000). Other notable lots include a fine and large Indian carved sandstone figure of a Jain goddess (Lot 124, $20,000-30,000) and a wide and interesting variety of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Indian, and Southeast Asian fine and decorative arts.

The collection of Chinese and Southeast Asian ceramics assembled by Mr. & Mrs. Gaylord and Pamela Watkins, almost completely acquired in Singapore, is of note for the fine array of Chinese ceramics dating from the Tang through the Qing dynasties. Highlights of the Chinese ceramics include Song, Jin and Yuan dynasty black-glazed wares such as two attractive Jin/Yuan dynasty globular bottle vases boldly painted with stylized birds (Lots 155, $5,000-7,000, and 157, $3,000-5,000), a related “guan” jar (Lot 154, $4,000-6,000), and a fine five dynasties/northern Song Ewer (Lot 151, $10,000-15,000). Additional Song ceramics include a rare “persimmon”-glazed “Ding” ware bowl and cover (Lot 164, $8,000-12,000) and a “Yaozhou” molded celadon “chrysanthemum” conical bowl (Lot 165, $6,000-8,000).

“What makes the collection more unusual is the representative selection of Southeast Asian wares,” Ben Farina, Department Head of Asian Arts said. “This includes the products of Vietnamese, Thai and Burmese kilns. The Southeast Asian ceramics are diverse, illustrating a broad range of types and forms.”

These include an elegant Vietnamese white-glazed “lotus” jar and cover, Ly dynasty, 12th-13th century (Lot 170, $5,000-7,000), several Vietnamese blue and white-decorated dishes, boxes and vessels influenced by Yuan and Ming dynasty blue and white porcelains (Lots 175-183), two rare Burmese green-decorated white-glazed bowls (Lots 189 and 190, $700-900 each), and a broad range of Thai dishes and vessels from the Sawankhalok, Phan and Kalong kilns. These Thai celadons were inspired by the celadons of the Longquan kilns of Song, Yuan and early Ming China which were so widely treasured by the societies of maritime Asia and the Middle East. Several of these Southeast Asian pieces have been published and discussed in “Southeast Asian ceramics, New Light on Old Pottery” edited by John Miksic, of the National University of Singapore.

“Freeman’s is pleased to have been given the rare opportunity to present such a diverse collection, which not only illustrates the rich trade links forged between the societies and cultures from the 10th-17th centuries in East Asia, but which also serves as a tribute to the eye of the collectors, who so carefully assembled a group of works as aesthetically pleasing as they are reminders of the history of this important region of the world,” Farina remarked.

The Watkins Collection also includes an attractive collection of huanghuali furniture, a large Burmese seated giltwood Buddha (Lot 118, $5,000-7,00), a Laotian gilt wood figure of a Buddha (Lot 115, $3,000-5,000) and additional furniture and decorative arts.

Freeman’s offers two Asian Arts sales per year, in the spring and fall. The April 25 Asian Arts auction totaled $1.06 million in sales.

View the collection and catalogue here. 

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