Contributed by Bernadette Rankine, Director for Southeast Asia, Bonhams
I am not a ceramics expert, nor do I have any expertise in this field. My eye and inclination leans towards the modern and contemporary. However, working for Bonhams means that there is always an opportunity and sometimes no choice but to handle historical art works. Recently, an exceptionally rare imperial Ming-style underglazed-blue and copper-red vase Jiu’er Zun, Qianlong seal mark and of the period, hammered loudly in Hong Kong for SGD 4,120,983 (pictured left).
Unquestionably, this is a beautiful vase with a noble lineage and stellar provenance, having come from the collection of Tang Shaoyi (1862-1938), the first Prime Minister of the Republic of China, 1912, and once even handled by the Qianlong Emperor. Fingers are crossed that this statuesque remote beauty will be put into orbit in a museum for all to see, love and enjoy soon.
With this in mind, I would not even consider the few pieces I have, by a contemporary Korean artist, to be material for deep discourse or deep pockets or an auction star. To me, these are artifacts which require no research but nevertheless in a roundabout way lead one to enquire and dig a little into the past and the ceramic traditions of North Asia.