Bonhams Hong Kong Shines the Spotlight on Exquisite Chinese Literati Objects at its 2013 Spring Auctions

Objects of Refined Virtue
A Private Collection of Scholar's Objects
26 May 2013
Hong Kong, Admiralty

Bonhams Hong Kong is pleased to be offering Objects of Refined Virtue: A Private Collection of Scholar's Objects, a single-owner collection of 45 fine and rare Chinese works of arts originally commissioned for the Imperial court and literati elite. The sale will take place on 26 May at the Island Shangri-La Hotel, Hong Kong.

The collection, expected to sell for over HK$5,000,000, maintains a high level of craftsmanship, including a diverse range of materials and subject matter, including fans painted by famous modern Chinese artists.

Highlights include:

Lot 8
A large carved bamboo Hehe Erxian group
Mid Qing dynasty
23cm high.
Estimate: HK$300,000-350,000

This fine large bamboo sculpture depicts Hehe Erxian, also known as the 'Two Immortals of Harmony and Union', who are traditionally believed to be associated with a long, happy marriage. The two Daoist Immortals originated from famous poet-monks of the Tang dynasty (618-906), Hanshan and Shide. In the late Ming dynasty they began to be depicted holding a lotus and a box. The typical iconography of the boys holding a lotus and a box forms the same homophone of he, meaning 'harmony' and 'union' respectively. In 1733, the Yongzheng Emperor decreed that they should be known as saints of harmony and unity.

Lot 41
A bamboo 'traveller amongst landscape' fan
Signed Zhang Daqian, inscribed on the reverse by Shen Yimo
52.4cm wide.
Estimate: HK$600,000-650,000

Zhang Daqian (1899-1983) was one of the most renowned and prodigious Chinese artists of the twentieth century, skilled not only in traditional Chinese paintings, but also poetry, calligraphy as well as carving seals. In the postscripts shown on the current lot, it is clear that the landscape was painted in the style of Zhao Mengfu (1254-1322), a prince and descendant of the Song Dynasty Imperial family and a renowned artist scholar of the Yuan Dynasty.

The reverse of the fan is inscribed in xingshu by Shen Yimo (1883-1971), a native of Wuxing, Zhejiang Province. He was the former President of Peking University and Vice President of the Central Research Institute of Culture and History. Shen is known for his kaishu calligraphy and is regarded one of the most prominent calligraphers of the 1940s.

Lot 20
An exquisitely carved chenxiangmu 'quails' brushpot
Mid Qing dynasty
13.2cm high.
Estimate: HK$600,000-650,000

Chenxiangmu, technically called agarwood, but commonly referred to as eaglewood, has been recorded as early as the third century AD by Wan Zhen, Magistrate of Danyangin of the Eastern Wu Dynasty, in the Nan zhou yi wu zhi, or 'Strange Things from the South', as produced in the Rinan commandery, present-day Central Vietnam.

Sally Fong and Xibo Wang, specialists in charge of the auction, comment:

"We are pleased to be offering for sale these fine scholar's objects and fan paintings, which are displayed in a specially designed catalogue. In order to maximise interest in the auction, the owner has chosen to offer their property with conservative estimates, particularly the fan by Zhang Daqian (Chang Dai-Chien), whose paintings are currently highly sought after".


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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