Masterpieces from top-selling artists headline Bonhams Hong Kong's auction of Fine Chinese Paintings & Contemporary Asian Art

Fine Chinese Paintings & Contemporary Asian Art
23 Nov 2012
Hong Kong, Admiralty

The Fine Chinese Paintings & Contemporary Asian Art Auction on 23 November features 129 lots with a total estimate of HK$40,000,000 – 60,000,000. Headlining the sale are masterpieces from legendary artists such as Zhang Daqian, Wu Guanzhong, Lin Fengmian, Chen Yifei and Chang Yu whose works are much sought after by collectors and connoisseurs alike.

Highlights of Fine Chinese Paintings include:

Lot 749
Zhang Daqian (1899-1983)
Peach Mountain Waterfall

Ink and colour on paper, hanging scroll
Inscribed and signed Zhang Daqian, with two seals of the artist
Dated (Minguo) fifty-ninth year (1970)
60.5cm x 40cm (23¾in x 15¾in).
Estimate: HK$600,000 – 900,000

Zhang painted this work for Mr. Xiao Zhongguang, former manager of the Wuling Farm in Taiwan, when he visited the island in 1970. Zhang used ink and azurite shades to portray peaks shrouded by a sea of clouds. Using a fine brush to produce textured strokes, he outlined the contours of trees, rock formations and the hut, bringing a sense of elegance and vitality to the scene. The landscape's power and grandeur also reveal traces of Shitao (1642–1707)'s artistic influence. This painting subsequently belonged to the collection of Mr. Stanley K.H. Chan, president of Sam Yup Benevolent Association, San Francisco, who was also a renowned collector.

Lot 783
Li Keran (1907-1989)
Three Water Buffaloes

Ink and colour on paper, hanging scroll
Inscribed and signed Li Keran, with three seals of the artist
69cm x 81cm (27in x 32in).
Estimate: HK$500,000 – 700,000

Water buffaloes are a favourite subject of Li Keran, who held deep admiration for their pragmatic, formidable, down-to-earth and generous qualities. Li regarded the water buffalo as his model of integrity and character, even naming his studio as 'Shi Niu Tang' (Studio Where I Learn from the Buffalo). In 'Three Water Buffaloes', Li successfully captured the carefreeness of the herd boy and the weightiness of the bovine animals with great economy of brushstrokes. With ample consideration to both form and spirit, this work conveys a spiritual resonance and a natural, whimsical effect. This is indeed a fine example among Li's paintings of water buffaloes. Although undated, judging from the painting style as well as the archaic and exuberantly vigorous calligraphy, the work was most likely executed in Li Keran's late years during the peak of his artistic career.

Lot 730
Hong Yi (1880-1942)
Couplet of Calligraphy

Ink on paper, each framed and glazed
Inscribed and signed Shamen Shengji, with one seal of the artist
Dated renshen year (1932)
109cm x 22 cm (43in x 8½in) each. (2).
Estimate: HK$300,000 – 500,000

You Mojun collected this treasured couplet. Like Hong Yi, You Mojun was also a member of Nanshe, a literary association in China. He shared a close friendship with Hong Yi as he even collected funds to assist Hong in publishing his works. The lines came from a famous couplet by Ouyang Xiu (1007-1072) encouraging magnanimous and honest behaviour. This work is not only a crystallisation of the venerable master's philosophy of life; it also showcases his unique calligraphic prowess that transcends earthly life.

Lot 758
Lin Fengmian (1900-1991)
Autumn Symphony

Ink and colour on paper, framed and glazed
Dedicated and signed Lin Fengmian, with one seal of the artist
49cm x 62cm (19¼in x 24½in).
Estimate: HK$2,000,000 - 3,000,000

Through a fluent merger of watercolour techniques and the appropriate use of gouache, Lin Fengmian's depictions of the sky and the water bring airiness to the landscape. Such techniques prevent heaviness and monotony to the scene caused by the accumulation of colours and repeated brushstrokes. They are also in line with traditional aesthetics of Chinese ink painting. 'Autumn Symphony' presents a rich palette of colours in multiple layers, which combines seamlessly with black ink. The colours were not added flatly or simplistically; they were meticulously applied and treated several times. As shown in the inscription 'Yizhai', Lin Fengmian gave this work to Cheng Zhiqing (1917-2000), a famous painter and seal-carver, before he left China in 1977.

Lot 808
Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010)
Lion Grove Garden in Suzhou

Ink and colour on paper, framed and glazed
With three seals of the artist and one seal of the collector
69cm x 138cm (27in x 54¼in).
Estimate: HK$3,000,000 - 5,000,000

It is currently known that 'Lion Grove Garden in Suzhou' is one of Wu Guanzhong's six extant works on this topic. Wu devoted two thirds of the composition to the labyrinthine grotto of rocks outlined by quick, flowing lines that are straight, folding, wavy and arching. Patches of colours such as yellow, green and pink imbue this oriental landscape with rhythm, charm and a playfulness often seen in western pictorial form. This work is of a standard size in Wu Guanzhong's oeuvre. Through exquisite brushwork, a myriad of colours and clear layering of forms, Wu skillfully led us into his world of abstract art. This painting was formerly in the collection of the palaeographer Ma Kwok Kuen (1931-2002).

Highlights of 20th Century Paintings and Contemporary Asian Paintings include:

Lot 807
Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010)
Lacebark Pine in the Beijing Imperial Palace

Oil on canvas, framed
Signed Tu in Chinese
Dated 86 (1986)
Signed, dated and dedicated on the reverse
61cm x 50.5cm (24in x 19¾in).
Estimate: HK$3,000,000 - 5,000,000

In this work, Wu extended his preferred composition of placing a tree in the foreground against the background building. From the level view, he depicted a thick, sturdy trunk and led our attention to the rough, weathered textures of the exfoliating bark and the dented, uneven rocks. Wu introduced bright hues such as white, yellow and red into the dominant greys and blacks to inject geometric charm and vital energy into the scene. Not only do thick brushstrokes - at times short, at times twisted - bring about the rich layering of the rock landscape and the beauty of the peeling bark, they are also a reminder of Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)'s artistic influence. It is rare to find three signatures of Wu on the front and back of the canvas. The inscription on the reverse, "To Mr Chung Ho in commemoration," shows the extraordinary friendship between Wu Guanzhong and Sheung Chung Ho (1937-2010). Sheung was former chairman of the Department of Chinese Language and Literature.

Lot 810
Sanyu (1901-1966)
White Chrysanthemums in Yellow Vase

Oil on masonite board, framed
Signed SANYU in English and Yu in Chinese
54.5cm x 39.5cm (21½in x 15½in).
Estimate: HK$1,500,000 - 2,500,000

This painting was executed in Sanyu's early years from 1930s to 1940s. With brushwork imbued with oriental aesthetics, the artist created a floral world filled with mystique. Unlike his later still-life paintings that convey explicit longings for his hometown, 'White Chrysanthemums in Yellow Vase' harbours the young artist's mild nostalgia for his homeland. The clean, simple composition evokes a cold Oriental feel, stirring our imagination.

Lot 811
Chu Teh-Chun (Zhu Dequn, b. 1920)
Rhythm of Life

Oil on canvas, framed
Inscribed, signed and dated by the artist's wife Dong Jingzhao on the reverse
26.5cm x 21.5cm (10½in x 8½in).
Estimate: HK$350,000 – 550,000

Painted in 1975, this oil work was a favourite of the artist, which remained hung in his bedroom since completion. Dr. Yang Yunda and his wife were invited to Chu's residence for dinner thirty years ago. After a delightful conversation, the artist took down this painting and gave it to Dr. Yang on the spur of the moment. This work may be small in size; its significance is profound. It is an important work executed by the artist before he received worldwide acclaim and has been personally cherished by him.

Lot 817
Chen Yifei (1946-2005)
Reclining Woman with Fan

Oil on canvas, framed
Signed Chen Yifei in English and Chinese
Circa 1996
With a label of Marlborough Fine Art (London) Ltd on the reverse, No. 309661
With Chen Yifei Estate's stamp, CYE/RC/No.7, on the reverse
130cm x 155cm (51¼in x 61in).
Estimate: HK$5,000,000 - 7,000,000

With a poetic, dream-like quality, 'Reclining Woman with Fan' which was executed in 1996, is an important work of Chen Yifei's 'Old Dreams of Shanghai' series. By means of his classic sfumato (blurring) technique, the artist portrays a demurely elegant lady dressed in qipao holding a fan. She reclines by the golden embroidered pillow, as if on the verge of rising; in her sombre gaze there is a hint of melancholy filled with subtle beauty, not lacking in quiet resolution. Filled with emotional intensity, this work recalls the mood in Tipsy Under the Flowers on Double Ninth written by Song dynasty 'delicate restraint' poetess Li Qingzhao. This painting forms part of the Chen Yifei Estate, and was featured in the 'Chen Yifei: Hommage à Chen Yifei 1946-2005' exhibition as well as in the catalogue published in conjunction with this event.

Lot 824
Adrien Jean Le Mayeur de Merprés (Belgian, 1880-1958)
Garden Leisure in the Afternoon

Oil on canvas, framed
Signed J. Le Mayeur
99cm x 119cm (39in x 46¾in).
Estimate: HK$1,500,000 - 2,500,000

This painting is acquired from a private European collection. It shows five bare-breasted women at leisure in the artist's garden in the late afternoon. Le Mayeur's approach to sunlight, foliage, naked skin and water is simple, yet effective. Deft dabs of cream and beige show figures and statues bathed in sunlight, complemented by shadows on the ground. The extravagant showering of petals delicately dotted in red with a few fallen frangipani flowers in front of Ni Pollock and the expansive sea in the background all add to the colourful idyll.

For more information please contact
Mabel Au-Yeung
+852 9038 8939


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