Sunday, July 3, 2016

Chinoiserie at Christie's South Kensington

Have you ever lurked in an auction house exhibition hall?

Mr. Paradis and I have poked our noses into them on Bond Street and it was intimidating.

Even though we were only having a look then at some vintage childrens' books and Bob Dylan paintings and sculptures (not many people know about Bob's sidelines - did you?)

The auction house team seemed to think that we might be members of some

international ring of smash-and-grab hoodlums.

Happily, it was a different visit on an easy sunny day at Christie's in South Kensington.  Where everyone was very solicitous and welcoming (maybe the sunshine put them in a good mood?) and left us to wonder undisturbed at the goodies displayed.

It was better than a museum.  We were able to get very up close and personal with this grouping 

of beautiful robes.  The needlework was delightful and imaginative.  Little hidden treasures imbedded in what are otherwise fairly plainly constructed, and simply shaped, womens' garments.

I have always had a weakness for this jewelry made of kingfisher feathers.  (But I am sadly not capable of being a properly responsible caretaker of such treasures.  I have too much reverence for them to imagine it would be a good idea for me to take any home.)

There was a whole further selection of blue and white porcelain which other visitors were allowed to handle and examine more closely:  (we were also offered such examining privileges but we declined)  brush holders, bronzes, chinese export things you might normally expect.

For me the visit was all about the robes and imagining Chinese ladies of old, with their tiny bound feet - reclining in carved and brick beds heated from below, or perched on little stools

with streaming lengths of silk

and dreams of dragons and chrysanthemums.

(Please excuse my clumsy retouching job.)

Imagine what the piece above might have looked like in its original colors.  (Which would be more beautiful - plain, or colored?)

This ornately rendered bodhisattva seemed to perfectly embody my own - and perhaps some others' - conflicted feelings about the country and culture of my mother's birth.

Don't be too timid if you get a chance at a similar visit.  Just because you don't have a giant checkbook doesn't mean you should deny yourself access to such a wonderful experience and resource.  Christie's auctions change frequently, there will always be something new to view and choose from.  And when you're done...the V&A is also close by!

We're having a Fourth of July weekend here in the U.S.  The week has been marred by even more tragedy - one thinks it will never ever stop now - so, so discouraging.  On a cheerier note, the plucky Icelanders have come from nowhere to hold their own, beat the Brits in the the Euros and scored two goals against Les Bleus at the Stade de France.   (Bravo!  Pretty good for a bunch of dentists!)

Stay well, Stay safe and Enjoy your Sweet Summer Days

No comments:

Post a Comment