SANYU (CHANG YU, 1895-1966)
signed in Chinese and signed ‘SANYU’ (lower right)
oil on canvas
73.8 x 50.2 cm. (29 x 19 3/4 in.)
Painted in 1930s-1940s
HK$120,000,000 – 180,000,000 / US$16,000,000 – 23,000,000
Hong Kong – This December, Christie’s is honoured to unveil Sanyu’s Goldfish as a major masterpiece of the autumn season. This painting is the first and only work by Sanyu to depict eight goldfish in such exquisite detail as the central subject of the composition, making the work completely unique and without compare within the context of the artist’s oeuvre. An iconic painting by one of the most important artists of the 20th century, Goldfish will be presented as the focus of a stand-alone, single lot evening auction immediately following the Modern and Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 2 December.
Depicting eight goldfish – a symbol of luck, hope, and prosperity – Goldfish is entirely unique in the context of Sanyu’s oeuvre. According to the first and second volumes of the artist’s catalogue raisonné, Sanyu only created 11 oil paintings in his lifetime that include the subject of fish, four of which currently reside in the permanent collection of the National Museum of History in Taipei. Among them, Goldfish is the only work that presents the fish in a still-life format, with the cylindrical fish bowl resting upon a tabletop decorated with auspicious symbols, a setting more commonly seen in Sanyu’s paintings of flowers and indoor scenes.
Painted during the 1930s–1940s, Goldfish is a spectacular example of Sanyu's avant-garde artistic vision, demonstrating how he blended, deconstructed, and combined disparate artistic styles and aesthetics in his work. His application of ink-and-brush style lines, the simple but refined use of colour, and tactical spatial handling reflect his understanding and exploration of modern Western art, while simultaneously expressing the poetic aesthetic elements of the East.
The painting is endowed with a truly illustrious provenance, having been exhibited across the globe and included in numerous publications about Sanyu. Goldfish formerly resided in the Robert Frank Collection, collected by one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century who was also an intimate friend of Sanyu's.
This July, Christie’s offered White Chrysanthemum in a Blue and White Jardiniere at auction, which set a new record for any still-life painting by Sanyu. In 2019, Sanyu’s Five Nudes was sold at Christie’s for HK$303,984,992, which remains the current world record for the artist. This season, as the market-leader with the greatest expertise in works by Sanyu, Christie’s is delighted to offer a masterpiece featuring an animal subject, one of the most magnificent paintings ever created by the artist.
Notes To Editors
Sanyu Auction Records Set By Christie’s
Date & Time: 7 – 8 November
Location: Grand Space, Marriott Taipei, 3F, No. 199, Lequn 2nd Road, ZhongShan District, Taipei
Final Preview and Auction at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre:
Preview: 27 November – 2 December
Date & Time: 2 December 2020, 8pm
Location: Hall 3C, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, No. 1 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong
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