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The Martin Laing Collection - 9 November


Duke’s Auctioneers were delighted to offer the Martin Laing Collection, opening the Asian Art auctions which spanned over two days in style, 9 - 10 November.

Martin Laing’s passion for collecting began at a young age, when at just 5 years old and living on a farm, he would stuff his pockets full of hens eggs, bus tickets from his trips to school and anything else he could find of interest to add to his burgeoning collection.

As a teenager, Martin became a keen Bruce Lee martial arts fan and started to collect knives; he later took up karate at the age of 24. This newly discovered love for an ancient Japanese martial art moved Martin’s attention towards the Orient, and he began collecting Samurai swords and Japanese cloisonné.

Following a chance meeting with two of Asian Art’s leading dealers, Gerard Hawthorne and Roger Keverne, and upon seeing the Chinese treasures each were offering for sale - Martin knew instantly he must switch his focus towards China; immediately he set about selling his beloved swords and Japanese cloisonné to fund this new area of collecting. 

In the early 1990s Martin’s tree felling business folded and he was forced to sell part of his collection to support his family, but like all true collectors, he couldn’t help adding another exceptional piece. So, when offered an exceptionally fine Huanghuali alter table, and with little money to pay the £3500 asking price Martin struck up a deal with the seller and paid for the table over the next two years. The altar table will be offered as part of The Martin Laing Collection at an estimate of £50,000-£100,000. 

Sadly, Martin lost his wife to cancer in the early 2000s, and in his own words, what had been a fun pastime now became an obsession, seeking out better and rare pieces at every opportunity.  Whilst the majority of the pieces offered in the sale have been with him in his Perthshire home, some, and again not uncommon with collectors, have been tried or sold over the years at auction, either because they simply didn’t fit or that Martin needed some money to pay for a recent purchase. 

His hope now is that others will be able to enjoy these items as much as he has over the years, whilst he turns his attention towards yet another new area: Chinese rococo furniture.

Highlights from the collection include:

Rare Huanghuali painting table, Hua Zhuo, late Ming Dynasty the finely figured high rectangular 'floating panel' top above a moulded apron, supported on four rounded legs with humpback-shaped stretchers
For a similar table see: Sotheby's, Ming Furniture - The Dr S Y Yip Collection, Hong Kong, 7th October, 2015, lot 106
SOLD £32,500 (including Buyer's Premium)

A pair of Huanghuali yokeback armchairs (Sichutouguanmaoyi) 17th / 18th Century each with an arched crest rail joined to a wide S-curved rectangular splat, without scrolled arms, the hard-caned seats within a mitred double-moulded frame above a shaped and beaded apron, supported by four legs with typically ascending stretchers from front to back
Estimate: £30,000 – 50,000

Impressive cloisonne and malachite figure of a magpie, Qianlong period, modelled as the cloisonné enamelled magpie with a long tail perched on a naturalistic malachite rock, with an associated hardwood stand 
Provenance: John Sparks, London
Earl of Perth; sold with a 1965 John Sparks receipt.:
SOLD £8,750 (including Buyer's Premium)

Fine hardstone and mother-of-pearl inlaid huanghuali table cabinet, Qing dynasty of rectangular form with gilt-metal mounts, the hinged lid, sides and two doors inlaid with flowering vases and auspicious items, opening to reveal a fitted interior of five drawers
Bears an old Royal Academy of Arts, London paper label
SOLD £9,375 (including Buyer's Premium)