Masterpieces from top-selling modern and classical Chinese artists reign supreme and were among the top 10 lots sold at the Bonhams Hong Kong Fine Chinese Paintings & Contemporary Asian Art Auction held on 25 May at the Island Shangri-La Hotel.
The sale totalled HK$50 million, with the top lot (786) going to Wu Guanzhong's Yulong Mountain. This spectacular ink painting portrays the snow-covered and fog-enlaced meandering ranges of the Yulong Mountain and resembles a jade dragon lying in the clouds. It also comes with a strong provenance having been acquired directly from the artist by Lucy Lim (1940 – 2007), the Executive Director of the Chinese Culture Foundation of San Francisco in the 1980s and the first person to organise a Wu Guanzhong exhibition in the United States in 1989. Enthusiastic bidding took the final price to HK$6,620,000, almost tripling its pre-sale estimate of HK$2,500,000.
Lot 727, Xu Beihong (1895-1953)'s Lady Seated Beneath Bamboo achieved HK$6,020,000. Famed for his paintings of animals such as horses, this important classical portrait of his second wife Liao Jingwen is numbered 19 and is from the famous series of 22 paintings based on renowned Tang dynasty poet Du Fu's 'The Beauty'.
Works from another celebrated modern master Zhang Daqian (1899–1993) performed equally well. The cover lot (741) Blue and Red Lotus painted by the artist in Taipei in 1978 sold for HK$3,860,000 while Lot 736 Mountain Trip painted in Brazil in 1963 achieved HK$3,380,000.
Qi Baishi (1863-1957)'s Seven Chicks Out from a Cage (Lot 715) achieved HK$1,280,000, four times its pre-sale estimate of HK$250,000. A rare subject matter for the artist, few similar works can be found in the collections of the Beijing Palace Museum and the Beijing Fine Art Academy.
Dong Shouping (1904-1997)'s Mount Huang (Lot 759) achieved almost ten times its pre-sale estimate of HK$150,000 to sell for HK$1,340,000. The price of the works of Dong Shouping has soared over the last three years.
In the area of classical calligraphy, Ming dynasty master Wen Zhengming's Calligraphy Script handscroll (Lot 702) sold for HK$3,860,00, tripling its pre-sale estimate of HK$1,000,000. Written by him at the ripe, old age of 81, the calligraphy is powerful, tense and bursting with energy, demonstrating his sustained calligraphic brilliance influenced by the great Song Dynasty calligrapher, Huang Tingjian (1045-1105).
The capsule collection of Contemporary Asian Art was well received by collectors. Most of the 29 lots on offer sold above the estimates, with Zhu Yiyong's 'Memories from the Past No. 27' (Lot 824) achieving HK$400,000, twice its pre-sale estimate. The selection dedicated to contemporary Chinese ink paintings, a fast expanding market, was a complete success. The works of Gu Wenda and Qu Leilei all sold. Works from the most established artists such as Li Shan, Zhu Yiyong, the Luo brothers and Yoshimoto Nara as well as the younger generation artists, such as Yin Jun and Zeng Jianyong were hotly sought-after. The Burmese master U Lun Gywe's Bathing at the Well II, sold for HK$112,500, twice its pre-sale estimate.
"The sale results mirror the buoyant market for established artists in the fields of classical and contemporary art. Bonhams is moving from strength to strength in both these dynamic areas of collecting in our Hong Kong sales," said Meilin Wang, head of Fine Chinese Paintings and Contemporary Asian Art.
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 valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full listing of upcoming sales, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments go to www.bonhams.com