Eugène Manet

A portrait of Eugène Manet by Edgar Degas – £5.3m at Sotheby’s.

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The first part of the collection raised HK$563.6m (£65m) at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in October and was led by a rare Ming Dynasty folding armchair that fetched HK$106m (£12.2m) - see ATG No 2564.

Here the items, which had been kept at Hotung’s London home, raised a further total of £38.4m from the two-part auction.

The evening sale on December 7 included Edgar Degas’ portrait of Eugène Manet, the younger brother of Edouard Manet, which the auction house described as ‘the jewel in the crown of Sir Joseph’s extraordinary collection of French paintings’.

Painted in 1874, the work had been a wedding gift from Degas to the sitter and his wife, the painter Berthe Morisot. Estimated at £4m-6m, it sold for £5.3m.

Seven paintings by Édouard Vuillard also attracted interest with Les messieurs en noir (c.1895- 99), an enigmatic composition of dark figures set against a colourful interior, surpassing a £1.5m-2m estimate and selling at £3.3m. Sir Joseph had acquired it 1993 from London dealer Thomas Gibson.

Museum patron

Hotung, who was a major patron of the British Museum, paying for its Gallery of China and South Asia as well as the Great Court Gallery, bought both European and Chinese works of art.

This cross-cultural mix was reflected in the side-by-side sale of English and Chinese furniture at the sales last week.

Estimated at £200,000- 300,000, a monumental altar table (qiaotouan) in the highly prized huanghuali from the late Ming period sold at £1.3m to an Asian private collector, while a pair of Chippendale mahogany stools with serpentine padded seats sold to another buyer in two lots at multi-estimate sums of £92,000 and £114,000 each.

The latter, that had been reunited by Hotung, once formed part of the furnishings suppl ied by Thomas Chippendale (then in partnership with Thomas Haig) to Sir Edward Knatchbull (1704-89) for Mersham-le-Hatch, Kent.

Early blue and white

The lion’s share of Hotung’s collection of early blue and white has been bequeathed to the British Museum but a piece of Yuan dynasty porcelain drew exceptional interest at the Hotung ‘day sale’ staged on December 8.

The yuhuchunping vase with a scene of a scholar and an attendant among highly auspicious symbols was estimated at £15,000-20,000 but sold at £400,000.

The day sale was topped by a turquoise and coral-inlaid silver ‘nine dragons’ seal that drew a spectacular contest against a £10,000-15,000 pitch and sold at £800,000.