The Economist gives the rundown on the Hong Kong sales of Chinese art and works of art held recently by Bonham’s and Christie’s. They warn that “sellers are becoming more greedy and buyers, especially Chinese buyers, are growing much more picky.”
Years of continuous growth have taught the auction houses how to tailor sales to suit their audience. The major area of growth is in mainland China, and the mainland Chinese have very particular tastes. Forbidden for half a century from collecting or even officially learning anything about their imperial past, the Chinese are working hard to catch up. In the decade since they began buying ceramics and fine art at auction in earnest, mainland Chinese collectors have shown a marked preference for anything associated with the imperial court, especially objects with visible reign marks. They prefer the more showy works from the Qing dynasty over Ming ware, and tend to eschew the earlier Song dynasty fine art that was so prized by 20th-century Western collectors.
Among the most sought after works are blue-and-white porcelain, white jade, traditional rhinoceros horn and anything which may have fascinated scholars, with objects from the emperor Qianlong’s reign proving the most popular of all. Fakes are an endemic problem in the Chinese market, so works with a well-established Western provenance are virtually guaranteed to sell well, as are works that are fresh to the market.
Picking and Choosing (Economist)