NEW YORK - Bonhams broke new ground with its recent September sale of Fine Chinese Painting & Calligraphy, a first for the New York location. Considered by Chinese connoisseurs to be the highest form of self expression, calligraphic works did very well with bidders, particularly with those in mainland China and Hong Kong. Strong interest from both private collectors and institutions resulted in competitive bidding for paintings and calligraphy throughout the auction, and it is a promising start for Bonhams New York in this exciting new sales category.
Three of China's top selling traditional artists were featured in the sale, attracting the attention of established and emerging collectors alike. Zhang Daqian's Cabbage, Mushrooms, and Radish from 1961, which was previously included in a traveling exhibition organized by the Smithsonian Institution, was one such example that generated palpable excitement in the gallery. The striking piece, with its spontaneous brushwork and subtle color palate, surpassed its estimate of $50,000-$70,000 to sell for $97,500. Also up for auction was Qi Bashi's Kingfisher and Hibiscus, which sold for $43,050 against a pre-sale estimate of $20,000 to $30,000, and Wu Guanzhong's 1993 Abstract Composition. Wu Guanzhong's boldly patterned and thoroughly contemporary piece nevertheless revealed the traditional inspirations favored by bidders, and the piece sold for an impressive $49,200 on a pre-sale estimate of $20,000-$30,000.
Pairing with the more modern examples, earlier classical works also fared very well in the sale. An ink on silk fan of a buffalo and calf datable to the 14th century sold for three times the estimate, for $40,000, and a set of album leaves by the 18th century artist Yao Song brought $25,000, doubling the pre-sale estimate. Spanning over six centuries, the exhibition and sale underscored the fluency of tradition in Chinese painting and calligraphy.
Bonhams New York's Chinese Art specialist Bruce MacLaren said he feels the sale has further established the global auction house's position in the rapidly expanding Chinese painting market, adding, "We're very pleased with the response and enthusiastic participation of international collectors and connoisseurs in the salesroom, online and on the telephone." Other lots of note included the anonymous Guanyin by Lotus Pond, a captivating ink on silk composition dated between the 17th and 18th century, which sold for $125,000. Additional works drawn from these collections will be sold at upcoming auctions in Bonhams San Francisco and Hong Kong salerooms.
NOTES FOR EDITORS
Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest auctioneers of fine art and antiques. The present company was formed by the merger in November 2001 of Bonhams & Brooks and Phillips Son & Neale. In August 2002, the company acquired Butterfields, the principal firm of auctioneers on the West Coast of America. Today, Bonhams offers more sales than any of its rivals, through two major salerooms in London: New Bond Street and Knightsbridge; and a further three in the UK regions and Scotland. Sales are also held in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Carmel, New York and Connecticut in the USA; and Germany, France, Monaco, Hong Kong and Australia. Bonhams has a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 25 countries offering sales advice and appraisal services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com