The Illusion of Spontaneity | Asian Art

The artistic output of the Far East never ceases to astonish in its ceaseless variety, exotic subjects and attention to detail.  An excellent selection of Chinese, Japanese and further Asian art will be offered in Glasgow to fervent worldwide interest. 



A fine Japanese bronze night watchman figure perfectly captures the theme of this auction, so lifelike is the modelling that we would not be surprised to see these metal limbs spring into action.  The watchman carries a lantern inscribed with the characters ‘Kan-nenbutsu’, this being a chant that Japanese monks would chant through the snowy mountains at dawn during the winter season; such examples reflect the extraordinary skill of the artisans of the Meiji Period who had to turn their skills to the arts after the outlaw of the samurai class and the decline in demand for the related equipment.



A somewhat ‘softer’ work requiring no less technical dexterity comes in the form of a silk embroidery by the renowned Iida Takashimaya Company.  Founded in 1831, the Kyoto form has made a name for itself internationally through the quality of its works in silk, be it pictorial panels or indeed kimono and other traditional Japanese garments produced to the highest quality; indeed Edward VIII of the British royal family wore a ‘happi’ coat by Takashimaya when visiting Kyoto in 1922.  The panel offered in this auction depicts a quietly atmospheric scene of two bijin practising calligraphy by the light of a hanging lantern; their painted faces are expertly picked out while their bodies gradually fade into shadow demonstrating a great technical dexterity.  With Iida panels having made impressive sums at auction previously, this example should appeal to textile collectors worldwide.

Chinese works of art often provide the ‘surprise’ factor at an auction and we have numerous contenders this time around.

A pair of blue and white gingers jars of impressive size will be sure to catch attention while a marked Qianlong ‘peaches’ dish and Guangxu ‘longevity’ plate will appeal in their bold colours and auspicious subjects.


The collecting field around traditional scholar’s items has heated up over the past ten years and a selection of jades and hardstones certainly fit the bill.  The oldest may well be a Hongshan Culture carved jade eagle amulet dating from the Neolithic Period (circa 4700-2500 BCE) with other timeless jade carvings, snuff bottles and brush washers also on offer, while a fine hardstone table screen on stand from the late Qing Dynasty would certainly have graced a scholar’s desk.

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James Spridion


For a complimentary, no-obligation valuation, visit our Glasgow Galleries or contact a specialist on 0141 810 2880 or

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