The recent day-long auction of a single-owner collection of Chinese gods and goddesses at The Canterbury Auction Galleries in Kent raised a total of £192,000.The collection, comprising 1400 lots of unique objects, jade, books, Chinese paintings and Oriental ephemera, belonged to the late Kent scholar and leading expert on Asian art, Keith Stevens. Mr Stevens died in July last year.“This was an excellent result,” said auctioneer Cliona Kilroy “underling Mr Stevens’ connoisseurship, collecting prowess and scholarly approach to a subject few outside Asia knew so intimately. The fact that several buyers knew Mr Stevens and had visited him at home in Mersham, near Ashford, to see his collection in what they referred to as the Cave of the thousand Buddhas’ and subsequently took the time and expense to travel to the sale speaks greatly of the respect and admiration they had for him.”One fellow collector who traveled from Singapore to bid purchased a number of lots, taking his own personal collection to 800. Watched by members of Mr Stevens’ family seated on the front row, the opening lot of the day set the scene for the success of the sale when the first of around 1,000 19th century carved and lacquered giltwood figures in the collection sold for £8,600. The figure, carved in about 1860 and depicting the deified Imperial Commissioner Lin Tse-hsu, had been estimated at £3,000-5,000.Some of the highlights of the sale were:A large Chinese carved polychrome and giltwood seated figure of the celestial Buddha Vairocana wearing a detachable headdress and seated on a opened lotus flower supported by a hexagonal pedestal base, it sold for £4,200.A large Chinese carved, painted and giltwood standing figure of a Bodhisattva, sold for £2,900a standing figure of a celestial Buddha Amitabha, or Emi Tuo Fo, his left hand raised holding a lotus ornament and on lotus pattern base, sold for £2,800.A Chinese carved, painted and giltwood figure of the Daoist deity Wen Chang Dijun, sold for £3,200 against an estimate of £800-1,200.The figure of Zhunti Pusa, goddess of long life, fertility and wisdom, standing on rectangular base, overturned its estimate to sell for £11,500 to emerge as the most valuable lot in the day’s sale.
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