Valuable Korean artwork headed for auction

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Valuable Korean artwork headed for auction

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The “White Porcelain Jar,” left, also referred to as “the Moon Jar,” from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), and “Lacquered Box Inlaid with Mother-of-Pearl” from the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), center, are among the traditional Korean items that will be included in Seoul Auction’s Hong Kong sale on Sunday. “On the Way Back,” right, by Korean painter Kim Whanki (1913-74), will be auctioned off by K Auction in Hong Kong on Saturday. [SEOUL AUCTION AND K AUCTION]

Two major Korean art auction companies - Seoul Auction and K Auction - are preparing for auctions in Hong Kong this weekend. The artwork they plan to auction off are valued at more than 35 billion won ($30 million) in total.

Seoul Auction will open its 17th auction in Hong Kong on Sunday at 6 p.m. at the Grand Hyatt Hotel, for which it has prepared both traditional and contemporary pieces, together worth roughly 25 billion won.

Since its first auction in Hong Kong in 2008, the auction house said this is the first time the value of the artwork is over 20 billion won.

One of the most notable pieces up for auction is “White Porcelain Jar” from the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1910), also referred to as the “Moon Jar.”

Estimated to be worth 1.8 billion to 2.4 billion won, it is 42 centimeters tall and the largest white porcelain piece in the auction.

“It has the ideal proportions for a white traditional porcelain jar, as the height and the width of the jar are almost equal, and the diameter of the top lid is bigger than that of the bottom,” the auction house said in a press release.

“Moreover, while there are many variations of jars from different nations, there is no other like the Moon Jar that, without any additional decorations, maintains its most natural color and gloss.”

Another significant item in the auction is “Lacquered Box Inlaid with Mother-of-Pearl” from the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392). It is a small box with elaborate mother-of-pearl ornamentation on the outside.

“Only a few pieces of Goryeo lacquerware inlaid with mother-of-pearl remain worldwide; only about 20 pieces are known to the public, so it is all the more special that this work is featured in this year’s auction,” the auction house said.

The box is estimated to be worth 335 million 445 million won.

Seoul Auction said that these rare Korean artifacts, which had been owned by Japanese and other foreign collectors, could return to Korea through the auction.

“But many collectors from both Korea and abroad are interested in the auctioned artwork, so it is yet to be determined as to which collectors will purchase which of the works,” Son Jisung, a public relations representative for Seoul Auction, explained.

On Saturday at the Renaissance Harbourview Hotel, K Auction will present 63 traditional and contemporary works from Korea and abroad, worth 10.6 billion won total. Among these are six paintings by famed Korean artist Kim Whanki (1913-74), including “On the Way Back.”

The painting was created in the 1950s and shows a young girl carrying a moon jar, a recurring and iconic subject of Kim’s paintings from this particular time period. It is considered to be one of the most important works by Kim, through which he truly began to create art on his own terms.

The painting is estimated to be worth 1.8 billion to 4 billion won.

Last month, Seoul Auction sold another work by Kim, “19-VII-71-#209,” at an auction in Hong Kong.

A monochromatic painting done in shades of blue, it became the most expensive Korean work of art ever sold at auction, selling for approximately 4.7 billion won.

BY YOON HAY-SUNG [estyle@joongang.co.kr]



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