Bonhams presents "Voyages of Discovery," a single owner collection which features 15 exceptional works by Chu Teh-Chun and Zao Wou-Ki and 12 unique Imperial Chinese works of art

Auction to take place in Hong Kong on 27 May 2012

Bonhams is delighted to present "Voyages of Discovery," a unique single owner collection which features 15 major works by Chu Teh-Chun and Zao Wou-Ki alongside 12 exceptionally rare Imperial Chinese objects. The collection will be auctioned on Sunday 27 May 2012 at 7pm at the Island Shangri-La in Hong Kong. Collection highlights will be on view in Paris at the Centre Culturel de Chine from Thursday 8 to Saturday 10 March 2012. The works will then tour New York, London and across Asia, before culminating in a preview exhibition in Hong Kong to coincide with ART HK. The total estimate for the sale is Euros 3,638,000 – 5,646,000.

The sale features an exceptional collection of work by two of China's most prominent artists Chu Teh-Chun (b. 1920) and Zao Wou-Ki (b. 1921). Trained in the historical painting styles of China before emigrating to the artistic milieu of 1950s Paris, both artists were soon influenced by the painterly abstraction they found, creating their own unique styles, distinct fusions of Chinese tradition and European innovation. The sale features 12 outstanding paintings and three works on paper by the artists.

Chu Teh-Chun and Zao Wou-Ki, contemporaries in both China and Paris, present an important bridge between the traditional calligraphy and painting aesthetics of China and the most innovative art movements of Twentieth Century Europe. The development of their artistic oeuvres culminates in bodies of work which confirm their status as two of the most important living Chinese artists.
Prices of works by Chu Teh-Chun have increased remarkably in recent years, with the excellent result achieved for the oil painting, entitled Lueurs, 1981, at Bonhams' inaugural Contemporary One sale in October 2011, as testament. The global art market for works by Zao Wou-Ki, similarly, is long-established but continually growing, with Bonhams sales of the artist's works in both London and the USA achieving strong prices over recent years.

The strength of this single owner collection lies not only in its outstanding quality, but also in the breadth and variety of the distinguished works. The collection provides a cross-section of the artists' developments through the decades, illustrating the evolution of their unique styles from the 1960s up until 2006.

The single owner collection also includes twelve exquisite Chinese objects spanning widely in era from the Northern Song Dynasty (960 – 1127AD), through the Ming Dynasty to the Guangxu period of the Qing Dynasty (up to 1908AD). The collection of works includes ceramic dishes, flambé-glazed vases and unique cloisonné enamel boxes.

A highlight work is the magnificent and extremely rare cloisonné enamel ice cooler and cover from the Qianlong period of the Qing Dynasty (Est. Euros 380,000 – 560,000). Featuring a striking blue floral pattern across its case and detailed with gold, the box is held up on both sides by kneeling figures and adorned on its lid by a gold lion. This work of art is one of only two of its kind, its twin residing in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Further objects of note include the oldest work in the collection, an extremely rare Dingyao dish from the Northern Song Dynasty (960 – 1127AD; est. Euros 190,000 – 380,000), inscribed at a later date with a poem by the Qianlong Emperor in 1776, and an exceptional copper-red 'lotus' bowl from the Hongwu period (Est. Euros 85,000 – 170,000), which demonstrates the very best quality in works from the establishment of the Ming Dynasty. The Hongwu emperor, Zhu Yuanzhang, claimed the Mandate of Heaven on seizure of the Yuan capital (present-day Bejing) and established the Ming Dynasty in 1368, making this work both one of aesthetic brilliance and historical significance.

Benedetta Ghione-Webb, Head of Bonhams Contemporary Art Department, commented: "It is fantastic to see such an exquisite and extensively complete set of works by these iconic Chinese Contemporary artists alongside such magnificent historical objects. We are delighted to be working with a collection that is utterly unique in being so entire and complete."

Andrew Stramentov, Senior Specialist at Bonhams Contemporary Art Department, added: "In this sale we have works by two of the most important living Chinese artists alongside some of the most historically significant artworks from China, spanning almost a millennium. It is extremely rare to come across a collection of this breadth and of this high quality."

Bonhams has a history of holding auctions in Hong Kong, and has achieved strong results particularly through its sales of Chinese Snuff Bottles, Chinese Works of Art and Chinese Paintings. The British company's commitment to the area is enhanced in this single owner sale, the very first by the London Contemporary Art Department for a Hong Kong audience.

The travelling highlights exhibition will be on view in the following cities:

London 10 – 14 February 2012, Bonhams New Bond Street
Lisbon 28 February – 4 March 2012, Fundacao Oriente Museu
Paris 8 – 10 March 2012, Centre Culturel de Chine
New York 15 – 20 March 2012, Bonhams New York (to coincide with Asia Week)
London 10 – 13 April 2012, Bonhams New Bond Street

Singapore 20 – 21 April 2012, Grand Hyatt Hotel
Taipei 28 – 29 April 2012, Fubon International Convention Center
Beijing 5 – 6 May 2012, China World Summit Wing
Shanghai 9 – 10 May 2012, JW Marriott
1st show in HK 16 – 17 May 2012, Grand Hyatt Hotel Drawing Room (to coincide with ART HK)
2nd show in HK 23 – 26 May 2012, Island Shangri-La (to coincide with HK auction previews)

Sale details:
Sunday 27 May 2012, 7pm
Island Shangri-La, Pacific Place, Queensway, Hong Kong

For media inquiries, please contact:

International, UK, Europe, US
Roxana Pennie
Sutton PR

Hong Kong and Asia Pacific Region
Tamsin Selby
Sutton PR Asia

Notes to editors

Zao Wou-Ki
Zao Wou-Ki began his studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Hangzhou, at the time the only truly modern art school in China, at the age of fourteen. A cultural pioneer, his artful amalgamation of Eastern aesthetics and Western innovation proved both of-the-moment and remarkably timeless. Propelled to Paris by his preoccupation with developments of European modernity, as well as the limitations of living in post-war China, the artist was swift to integrate himself into a circle of similarly talented artists, including Alberto Giacometti, Joan Miró and Maria Elena Vieira da Silva. By the mid-1950s, Wou-Ki was a regular exhibitor at the city's Galerie Pierre Loeb. It is impossible to deny the influence of Chinese calligraphy on the artist's earlier work, a method he made a brief return to in the 1970s, but this is a style he later neglected in lieu of the surreal and abstract. With works ranging from the 1960s to the 2000s, this single owner collection therefore is a unique demonstration of developments within the artist's oeuvre.

Chu Teh-Chun
Chu Teh-Chun, a following alumnus of the Academy of Fine Arts, became similarly renowned for his distinct fusion of historical Chinese imagery and Occidental abstraction, born out of his early study of classical Chinese art combined with later travels throughout Europe, including Paris and the Netherlands. Experimenting with the most European of medium, oil on canvas, the dramatic backdrops of the Chinese landscapes provided an ideal subject. But it was in Paris that he discovered a new direction, rooted firstly in the Post-Impressionist tradition and then later the Abstract, inspired by the work of de Staël to move away from the figurative. It was his later Abstract canvases which ultimately attracted much attention from gallerists and collectors. Chu Teh-Chun's paintings, as demonstrated in the artworks that feature in this collection, present as a result an extraordinary dialogue: between the traditional and the modern, the familiar and the unnervingly dramatic.


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

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