│Fine Chinese Classical Paintings & Calligraphy, November 26, 10:00am, Sale 2960│
│Fine Chinese Modern Paintings, Part I, 3:00pm, Sale 2961│
│Fine Chinese Modern Paintings, Part II, 10:30am & 2:30pm, Sale 2961│
Hong Kong – This autumn, Christie’s will present select works from seasoned international collectors at its upcoming sales of Fine Chinese Classical Paintings & Calligraphy and Fine Chinese Modern Paintings on November 26 and 27, 2012 at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Offering over 700 works from more than 60 private collections, the sales will feature classical masters including Wang Duo, Lan Ying, Wang Jian and Chen Chun, as well as works by celebrated modern artists such as Qi Baishi, Xu Beihong, and Zhang Daqian. Estimated to realize in excess of HK$290 million/US$37 million, the sale will offer collectors around the world the opportunity to acquire choice works by masters of the category. Nearly half of the works have been sourced from renowned private collections all over the world.
The autumn sales will bring together important works from the collections of Mr. Luo Jialun and Mr. Tang Siyao, as well as rare pieces from several overseas collectors. From Ming and Qing pieces collected by Chinese connoisseurs in North America, to Qi Baishi’s masterpiece consigned by an Italian artist, the sales reflect the continual cultural dialogue between the East and the West.
"The best Chinese paintings are either in museums or in private hands, contributing to their rarity in the market,” says Ben Kong, International Specialist Head of Chinese Paintings at Christie’s Hong Kong. “Many Chinese collectors not only brought with them very important pieces when they moved abroad, but also contributed immensely to the preservation of these works. By consigning the paintings to Christie’s Hong Kong to be sold on an international platform, the collectors are adding to the promotion and perpetuation of Chinese culture. During the sales week, we will also present the first non-selling exhibition of Chinese contemporary ink painting, endeavouring to illuminate the achievements and innovations made by leading contemporary artists working in the ink painting medium.”
Click here to view the video of highlights from the autumn sale of Chinese Paintings.
Highlights From Important Private Collections
From The Private Collection Of Mr. Luo Jialun (羅家倫)
XU BEIHONG (徐悲鴻), Magpies on Branches (1936), hanging scroll, ink and colour on paper
Leading the sales of Chinese Modern Painting this season is Xu Beihong’s Magpies on Branches (illustrated left, Lot 1047, est. HK$2,500,000-3,000,000/US$330,000-390,000). This painting is from the private collection of Mr Luo Jialun, the distinguished Chinese politician, educator, poet, writer and collector of 20th century Chinese painting. While a student of Fudan Public School in Shanghai, Luo showed an early passion for politics. He went on to study foreign literature at Peking University, and in 1917, became the editor of The Renaissance: a student publication that advocated literary reform. This position helped catapult him to the role of student leader during the May Fourth Movement in 1919. Following his graduation from university, Luo travelled to the United States, London, Berlin and Paris to continue his studies. Upon his return in 1926, he was assigned to teach at the Central Political School, Tsinghua University and National Central University, and oversaw the successful relocation of Central University to Chungking during the anti-Japanese war. In 1941, he resigned from the position of vice-chancellor at Central University. From 1947 to 1949, Luo became the first ambassador to India from the Republic of China. In 1949, he moved to Taiwan and spent the remainder of his days writing about the history of Kuomintang and modern Chinese history.
Magpies on Branches exemplifies the harmonious fusion of Chinese ink painting techniques and a Western approach to drawing, as well as Xu’s superb mastering of both. Xu Beihong was one of the first Chinese artists in the 20th century to articulate that art needed to reflect the ideologies of the new China. He is regarded as a pioneering artist, through the ways in which he painted traditional Chinese themes in a Western realistic style. Proficient in sketching, oils and traditional ink and brush painting, Xu was a versatile artist who integrated Chinese ink and brush techniques with the Western innovations of perspective, theories of composition and definition of form.
From The Private Collection Of Mr. Tang Siyao
QI BAISHI (1863-1957)/ ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)/HUANG BINHONG (1864-1955)/VARIOUS ARTISTS (齊白石/張大千/黃賓虹/諸家), Leisure Pursuits, an album of forty-eight leaves, ink/ink and colour on paper
Tang Siyao (1902–1989) was born into a literati family and began learning the art of calligraphy at an early age. After graduating from Peking University, Tang resided in Japan before returning to China and devoting his life to education. Tang was committed to the preservation of traditional Chinese arts and culture. He was friends with a number of modern Chinese painters and calligraphers, and often gathered with them to exchange ideas and opinions on art. His extensive collection includes Leisure Pursuits (illustrated below, Lot 1466, est. HK$3,500,000-4,500,000/US$460,000–580,000), comprising works by 48 important Chinese painting and calligraphy masters, including Qi Baishi, Zhang Daqian, Xu Beihong, Huang Binhong, and Hu Shi. Tang took several years to compile this oeuvre of works, and is quoted as saying, “Great works of art should not remain in the hands of one person. I hope they will be passed on to other art lovers who will help contribute to the perpetuation and preservation of Chinese culture. For this, I shall be very grateful.”
Property Of A Chinese Private Collector In North America
WANG DUO (王鐸，1592–1652), Six Verses in Cursive Script (1642), hand scroll, ink on satin
The strong results of the previous two sales have led to the successful consignment of further exceptional pieces from the same Chinese private collector in North America this season. The selection includes works by Ming and Qing masters on a wide range of themes. Standing apart is Wang Duo’s Six Verses in Cursive Script (illustrated right, Lot 899, est. HK$3,000,000-5,000,000/US$390,000-650,000). In the third month of renwu year (1642), Wang inscribed six verses in calligraphy and dedicated them to Yuweng in the ninth month of the same year. The scroll measures almost five meters, and features rich ink on satin.
Wang Duo was a Ming government official renowned for his dynamic cursive script, in which he integrated his own distinct techniques to create a unique style of painting. Often bold and free-flowing, the strokes he employed reflect his strong personality and emotions. Together with his contemporary, renowned calligrapher Dong Qichang, the pair was known to each represent the Southern and Northern schools of landscape painting. This work displays Wang’s masterful grasp of the rhythm in the spirited and flowing strokes. A multi-talented painter and calligrapher of great diversity, Wang’s refined yet powerful style greatly influenced Chinese and Japanese calligraphy.
Fine Chinese Classical Paintings & Calligraphy
CHENG CHUN (陳淳), Flowers of the Four Seasons (1539), hand scroll, ink on paper
There are two masters in the history of Chinese floral paintings: ‘Daoist of the Green Vine House’, also known as, Xu Wei (徐渭); and ‘the Mountain Man of the White Poplar’, or Chen Chun（陳淳). Chen’s floral paintings had significant influence on traditional Chinese painting rendered in the free style. Flowers of the Four Seasons (illustrated left, Lot 859, est. HK$800,000-1,000,000/US$ 110,000-130,000) was completed in 1539, and features colophons by Peng Nian, a calligrapher based in Suzhou. The scroll was given to Chen Yinglin by another painter, Wang Guxiang in 1552. The provenance and quality are remarkable, attesting to this painting’s importance and value.
LAN YING (藍瑛), Autumn Mountains (1646), hanging scroll, ink and colour on silk
Lan Ying (藍瑛) is recognized as one of the most prominent painters of the late-Ming period. Often categorized as part of the “Wulin School” of artists, Lan was active in the city of Hangzhou, in Jiejiang province. He studied under Dong Qichang, and under his instruction, developed his own unique painting style. Known for his intense personality, Lan Ying often employed bold brushstrokes in his work. Deciding to become a professional painter at a young age, Lan quickly became very particular about his use of aesthetic techniques and colours. As a result, his aesthetic evolved to become rather flamboyant in style. Lan has been influential in Chinese art history, especially in terms of bridging the artistic styles of the Ming and Qing dynasties. Composed in 1646, Autumn Mountains (illustrated right, Lot 865, est. HK$ 1,2000,000-1,500,000/US$160,000-190,000) is one of his best works.
Previously In The collection of Mr. CC Wang
WANG JIAN (王鑑), Landscape after Dong Yuan, hand scroll, ink and colour on paper
The sales are also highlighted by Wang Jian’s, Landscape after Dong Yuan (illustrated left, Lot 878, est. HK$2,600,000-3,200,000/US$340,000-410,000), an exceptional work previously in the collection of Mr. CC Wang. Wang Jian occasionally went by the name Liu Jinglin (1888–1976), as well as Shiqian. Liu’s father, Liu Chengkai, was an antique dealer in Sanshui of Guangdong province. As a young boy, Liu Shiqian showed interest in painting and calligraphy, and later became a member of the Guangdong Painting Society. Upon becoming a politician, he joined the army during the anti-Japanese war and later retired in Hong Kong.
NI YUANLU (倪元璐), Five-character Poem in Cursive Script, hanging scroll, ink on satin
Also highlighting the selection of calligraphy on offer this season is Ni Yuanlu’s Five-character Poem in Cursive Script (illustrated right, Lot 854, est. HK$2,000,000-3,000,000/US$260,000-390,000). Born in the Shangyu county of Zhejiang province, Ni Yuanlu 倪元璐) (1593–1644) was a political figure and Chinese calligrapher during the late Ming Period. His artist name was “Yu Ru” (玉汝) and his pseudonyms included “Hong Bao” (鴻寶) and “Yuan Ke” (圓客). Upon passing the imperial examination in 1621, Ni was admitted to the elite Hanlin Academy to prepare for a life as an artist of the court. However, his promising career was thwarted by the fierce political rivalry between officials and eunuchs during the Tianqi reign (1620–1627). After the Chongzhen Emperor (1627–1644) inherited the throne, Ni, appreciated for his integrity and loyalty, was repeatedly promoted and gradually rose up through the ranks to become Financial Secretary in 1643, his most senior post. The empire, which had been heading towards dissolution, finally collapsed when Beijing was captured by rebels in 1644. Ni committed suicide by hanging himself, a powerful Confucian display of dignity that led to his works of calligraphy being highly regarded. The five-character poem on the hanging scroll is recorded in Ni’s book Writings by Ni Yuanlu, in which the third sentence has three characters different from that on the scroll.
FINE CHINESE MODERN PAINTINGS
From The Collection Of An Italian Artist
QI BAISHI (齊白石, 1863-1957), Smartweed and Quails, scroll, mounted and framed, ink and colour on paper
In 1956, Italian artist, Ampelio Tettamanti (1914–1961), met Qi Baishi in Beijing and the two quickly became friends. Tettamanti painted a portrait of Qi Baishi as a token of their friendship, and Qi presented the artist with the painting Smartweed and Quails (illustrated left, Lot 1041, est. HK$1,200,000-1,500,000/US$160,000-200,000) as a farewell gift.
In June 1956, Tettamanti traveled to China with a group of important Italian artists as part of a cultural exchange. The Museum of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing held an exhibition of works by several Italian artists. At the opening of the exhibition, Tettamanti met with various Chinese artists, including Qi Baishi. Apart from this work, Tettamanti purchased, Pavilion by the Sea and New Year Offerings during the trip to Beijing. The three paintings have remained in the private collection of the Tettamanti family in Italy, serving as a precious memory of the artist’s journey to China.
Property From An Asian Private Collector
ZHANG DAQIAN (張大千, 1899-1983), Living in the Valley (1976), scroll, mounted and framed, ink and colour on paper
Another highlight of this season is Zhang Daqian’s painting, Living in the Valley (illustrated right, Lot 1253, est. HK$4,000,000-6,000,000/US$520,000-770,000). Richly saturated in bold colours, this painting offers a refreshing take on splashed ink and colour painting. Composed while the artist was in Taiwan, the vivid and breath-taking work captures the beauty of a pine-covered mountain in the morning mist, consolidating Zhang’s skills as a painter.
From The Yang Ang Tang Collection Of Lingnan Paintings
ZHAO SHAO’ANG (趙少昂, 1905-1998), Tiger, hanging scroll, ink and colour on paper
The painting Tiger from the prized Yang Ang Tang Collection of Lingnan Paintings, (illustrated left, Lot 1438, est. HK$2,000,000-3,000,000/US$260,000-390,000) stands apart for its remarkable technique and beauty. “Yang Ang” (仰昂), the name of the collection, suggests admiration towards Zhao Shao’ang. The owner of Yang Ang Tang was a student of Zhao Shao’ang for a long time and became close friends with the artist. Many of the works in his collection were directly acquired from Zhao, whose innovative style and masterful control of lines attracted many collectors at home and abroad. The artist even inscribed his name on the colophons of three paintings by Gao Qifeng, Gao Jianfu, and Gao Jianseng to express his appreciation and connoisseurship towards the paintings.