Europe has long looked to the East for artistic inspiration, influenced by master craftsmen from Japan, China, Korea and beyond. An upcoming auction features the best of both worlds, showcasing Asian and Asian-inspired pieces, while tracing the evolution of artistic styles.
On 8 July, the Parisian auction house Rossini is celebrating the ongoing artistic and cultural exchange between Europe and Asia during their last catalogued sale of the season, ‘Decorative Arts from East to West’. Of the nearly 300 lots, more than half are devoted to the arts of China, Japan, Vietnam, Burma, Nepal, Tibet, India and Thailand, while the rest are 20th-century European designs inspired by Eastern traditions. Studies of nature, the aesthetics of curved lines and bright colours, and lacquer and ceramic techniques are some of the characteristics that unite the creations of East and West, and placing them together fosters an appreciation of cultural exchange while highlighting the importance of art as a universal language.
The artist and designer Émile Gallé is known today as one of the major innovators of the Art Nouveau movement in France. He studied botany and frequently included floral and vegetal designs into his glasswork, like the delicate seabed design seen here. The natural forms on this vase are representative of Japonism, an influence also seen in the green and red gradient colouring.
Originally from the province of Há Noi, Nguyen van Binh studied painting and lacquer technique at the Indochina School of Fine Arts. Depicting Hạ Long Bay in Northeast Vietnam, this lacquerware panel captures the local landscape as well as the fishermen on the water in their distinctive boats. The luminous red background is heightened by the lacquer, and the painting is signed in the lower right hand corner.
Another beautiful example of Art Nouveau design, this ‘Swallow’ chandelier by the French glassmaker René Lalique is an intriguing and unique centerpiece. Made of moulded white pressed glass, the fixture has twelve ‘wings’ decorated with flying swallows and is completed with a chromed metal frame.
Dating from China’s Qianlong period, this curved scepter or ruyi would have acted as a ceremonial scepter that symbolised power and good fortune. Made of lacquer, the body is carved with the eight sacred Buddhist symbols including a lotus flower and an endless knot, while the base is decorated with peaches symbolising luck and longevity. The end is completed by a jade plate from the Yuan or Ming dynasty, which depicts a goose among lotus flowers.
Cast in bronze, André Becquerel’s Couple of Panthers - Rest depicts two big cats in a quiet moment, stretching while they nudge their heads together. The forms are stylised, but Becquerel perfectly captures the exquisite musculature of his lithe subjects.
As the West’s passion for Chinoiserie grew, porcelain pieces such as this enamelled plate became extremely popular all over the world. The polychrome decoration depicts a small pavilion under the pines in a mountainous landscape studded with waterfalls. The delicate brushwork, balanced composition and appreciation of nature present in this piece are all qualities which have made Chinese art admired worldwide.
The exhibition is available for viewing at the Rossini Auction Room in Paris on 6-7 July from 11am-6pm, and visitors are expected to wear masks and follow social distancing guidelines. The sale will take place on 8 July at 2pm, and bidding is available online with pre-registration.