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Sotheby's to hold Fine Chinese paintings sale and exhibition of Zhang Daqian paintings
Painted by Xu Beihong in 1935, Buffaloes (est. HK$10-20 million) represents the pragmatism and austerity of people in China at that time. Photo: Sotheby's.
HONG KONG.- Sotheby’s will present its Largest Fine Chinese Paintings Sale on 4 October, presenting over 360 lots expected to fetch in excess of HK200 million / US$25.6 million*. Several thematic sections will be featured, including Treasures from Afar – Two Overseas Paintings Collections, Calligraphy Works by Dignitaries During the Republic of China, Works of Jincheng and Beijing Artists During the Early 20th Century, alongside exceptional works by masters such as Zhang Daqian, Fu Baoshi, Wu Guanzhong, Qi Baishi and Xu Beihong.

C.K. Cheung, Head of Sotheby's Fine Chinese Paintings Department, said: “This autumn, we are pleased to bring together masterpieces by leading artists from private collections around the world that formed the largest auction of this category at Sotheby’s. Highlights include two valuable collections from both sides of the Atlantic, which boast superb artistic values and serve as a microcosm of the diaspora and market development of this genre over the past fifty years.”

We have also carefully curated Calligraphy Works by Dignitaries During the Republic of China - a section which features the original calligraphies of several influential dignitaries, including Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-shek), to shed light on the sweep of historical events in their times. The section is poised to inspire viewers to reflect on the historical significance behind the writings.”

Treasures from Afar – Two Overseas Painting Collections
Two overseas painting collections, one from England and the other from the United States, are represented in this assemblage. Though started in different period, both collections exhibit the owners’ passion for 20th century Chinese calligraphy and art. Another similarity between them lies in the collectors’ high regard for artists of their time, particularly those who were influenced by Western or Japanese aesthetics. Fu Baoshi, therefore, holds such a prominent place in both collections.

Painstakingly assembled in the 1960s, the collection from England is made up of modern Chinese paintings primarily sourced from an art gallery in London. By comparison, most Modern Chinese paintings in the US collection were acquired from international art auctions. In the early 1980s, New York became the focal point of a booming Chinese art market where ancient Chinese paintings and calligraphy were most sought after. The collector made an early start amassing 20th century modern works, and the finest were added to the collection.

Of the many great masters of Chinese art throughout history, Fu Baoshi was most enamoured with the works of Shi Tao, also known as the “Bitter Gourd Monk”, from the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. Several of Fu’s artistic gems drew inspiration from Shi, including Pavilion in the Solitude of the Mountains (est. HK$12 - 15 million). The work was painted in the autumn of 1943, at the height of his career during his stint spent in Chongqing. Unveiling a panorama of mountains half concealed in clouds, the composition shows a pine forest with a humble hermitage tucked away in a remote corner. Seated inside is a recluse, reciting a text. With nobody else in sight, he seems to enjoy the solitude of a life free from worldly hassles, amid the company of pines and white clouds.

An orderly scheme of nature emerges from the thoughtful composition, with the visual details of magnificent mountains and lush foliage interwoven intimately with each other. While mountain contours are portrayed through abrupt, sporadic brushstrokes, the heavy landscape boulders are delineated in a manner to suggest substance. No less remarkable, though, are the fine visual details bestowed to the painting, including the cottage structure and the arrangement of literary texts. Even the recluse’s facial expressions, so subtly portrayed through his brows and beard to convey the appearance of undivided concentration, testify to the artist’s emphasis on details.

Calligraphy Works by Dignitaries During the Republic of China
This section features over 20 original calligraphies by dignitaries who shaped the course of history in the Republic of China era. Among them are the works by revolution forerunner Chen Shaobai, the nation’s founders Huang Xing, Song Jiaoren and Chen Qimei as well as educationist Cai Yuanpei and cultural leader Hu Shi. Equally precious is a rare calligraphy work by Jiang Jieshi (Chiang Kai-shek) in the album.

Calligraphy Album by Various Artists (est. HK$200,000 - 300,000) is a souvenir album so titled by Niu Kangmin. The identity and background of Niu, the paintings’ recipient, remain unknown. However, judging by the annotator’s status and honorifics indicated, combined with the chronological order of the calligraphies when they were presented, one could tell that Niu came from an illustrious family and his parents, who were leading figures of the cultural and education circles, were connected to Chiang Kai-shek by matrimony. The extensive web of personal connections they wielded might explain how Niu Kangmin, a possible secondary school graduate, could bring together the calligraphic writings of celebrities from the military, political as well as literary, education and publication sectors. A total of 39 calligraphies, along with two paintings, are collected in this album. The rarest of them is Chiang Kai-shek’s own manuscript. As a personal document dedicated to his close relative, it was penned by Chiang himself, rather than by his secretary as was most other cases. Rare calligraphic works of respected literary and education stalwarts, including Xia Mianzun of Kaiming Bookstore and Wu Yifang of University of Nanking, are also presented.

MORE AUCTION HIGHLIGHTS
Breathtaking vistas of the Three Gorges region around Yangtze River are a familiar theme in Wu Guanzhong’s works. However, it was rare for him to have placed such a singular focus on the Wu Gorge, as he did in this painting. In Wu Gorge (est. HK$7 - 9 million), the majestic silhouette of an interlocking mountain range along the river is profiled by lengthy, continuous lines running through the composition. Flowing from unfettered brushstrokes, the lines are dynamically executed for a heightened visual impact, while revealing the artist’s grasp of nature’s spectacular glory. The composition and style of painting are similar to another magnificent work of the same title by Wu. Measuring 6 X 12 feet, the latter is kept in the National Museum of History in Taipei. Both works are believed to be completed in 1984 when Wu undertook a painting trip across the Yangtze Three Gorges region to Sichuan.

Painted by Xu Beihong in 1935, Buffaloes (est. HK$10 - 20 million) represents the pragmatism and austerity of people in China at that time. This painting features two buffaloes lazing under a tree in a meadow. The blissful and carefree atmosphere is a strong contrast to the artist’s anti-wartime sentiment, more commonly reflected in his work during that period. This painting marks a moment of content for Xu during a time of turbulence.

The earliest of Zhang Daqian’s self-portraitures could be traced to the late 1920s. Self Portrait in the Yellow Mountains (est. HK$8 - 12 million) was executed in 1961, as he turned 63. It also marked a turning point in Zhang’s artistic approach as he shifted from the traditional style of fine delicate brushwork to bold splashed ink and colour in his late oeuvre. Most of his self-portraits lack a distinctive background; however in this painting, the artist depicts himself in a pine forest on Yellow Mountain (Mount Huangshan), being at peace with himself and harmoniously blended into nature. This artistic approach is rarely seen in his other works.

A frontal view of the artist appears on the canvas, both his legs engulfed in swirling fog. Behind him, a spotty ancient pine tree is set against rock layers covered with pine needles, offering a portrayal of Yellow Mountain’s geology. The lower part of the painting is dominated by white blank spaces to connote fog. This visual contrast between mass and void to recreate a scene from nature also provides the painting with a paradise-like backdrop. Despite the spontaneity of Zhang’s xieyi (freehand) style, the portrayal of his own physical likeness, from the eyes to wispy beard, is rendered with realistic details.

Highly pleased with its artistic outcome, Zhang kept the painting with him for a long period until it was presented to his seventh son, Zhang Xinyi. In 1991, Xinyi generously lent the work for the exhibition Challenging the Past — The Paintings of Chang Dai-chien held in Washington, and the work has since then never shown in public for two decades until now.

Sotheby's | Two Overseas Paintings Collections | Calligraphy Works by Dignitaries During the Republic of China | Works of Jincheng and Beijing Artists During the Early 20th Century | alongside exceptional works by masters such as Zhang Daqian | Fu Baoshi | Wu Guanzhong | Qi Baishi | Xu Beihong |  |




Last Week News

September 14, 2011

Gagosian Gallery announces the death of The Father of Pop Art: Richard Hamilton

Sotheby's in New York announces sale of part III of The Collection of Allan Stone

Lost British street artist Banksy mural "Every Picture tells a lie" uncovered on Berlin galley wall

A host of dragons, buffalo, lions and horses, lead caravan of Chinese art at Bonhams

National Gallery of Art launches second edition of the Gemini G.E.L. Online Catalogue Raisonné

Sanford Biggers: Cosmic Voodoo Circus exhibit on view at SculptureCenter

In Living Color vivid post impressionist works highlight Bonhams' October prints auction

Freeman's sells $3.5 million Qing Dynasty Jade Seal, Asian Art auction realizes $8.1 million

New Orleans Museum of Art names Russell Lord new Curator of Photographs

Christie's in New York to offer rare Inglenook from Francis Ford Coppola's cellar

Valencian Institute for Modern Art exhibition opens with the work of José Manuel Ciria: The Last Decade

Exhibition of new works by artist Gordon Cheung opens at Alan Cristea Gallery

Pavel Schmidt presents Kafka cycle at the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts      

Jewellery belonging to Thomas Jefferson's great, great granddaughter offered at Bonhams

One of Britain's best-loved illustrators John Burningham at The Fleming Collection

Rice University's Rice Building Workshop designs café for the Menil Collection

Credit, Faith, Trust, an exhibition of new and recent works from James Casebere at Lisson Gallery

Lesley Heller Workspace opens group show of young female artists and solo exhibition by Loren Munk

Leslie Hindman Auctioneers fine art auction realizes 2.7 million

Deborah Solon and Alissa Ford join Heritage Auctions' Fine Arts department

September 13, 2011

Exhibition of Modern artworks in dialogue with Contemporary art at Kunstmuseum Bern

Sotheby's Contemporary Art evening sale to be headlined by Lucian Freud's Boy's Head of 1952

Personal handwritten letters by James Dean to be auctioned at Christie's for the first time

First painted portrait of American Vogue's Anna Wintour acquired by the National Portrait Gallery

Case of Los Angeles' stolen Rembrandt drawing intrigues art world with ownership issue

Miquel Barceló: Elefandret sculpture installed at Union Square in New York City

Ketterer Kunst in Munich announces sale of German Avant-Garde paintings in October

Milwaukee Art Museum acquires masterpiece of American art by John Singleton Copley

Swann Galleries to offer strong selection of American and European Works

Dagger owned by Ottoman Princess and poet married to Grand Vizier for sale at Bonhams

Two new installations by Chinese artist and film maker Yang Fudong premiere at Parasol Unit

Heritage Auctions' Long Beach September numismatic auctions total $34 million combined

Amelia Earhart goggles, photos pull in more than $31,000 at Clars Auction Gallery

Edgar Allan Poe Museum in Baltimore could close

1875 Gorham carved match safe 'Masterpiece,' one of only two known, expected to bring $20,000+

Ceramic vase bought for Perth Museum and Art Gallery

Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art presents "A Sense of Place: Landscapes from Monet to Hockney"

Bonhams sells case of Romanee Conti for 126,500 in Fine Wine sale

Historypin app lets people create a "time machine"

September 12, 2011

Jessica Lange shows her photos in Europe for the first time at the Niemeyer Center in Avilés

The Art of the Anatolian Kilim: Highlights from the McCoy Jones Collection at the De Young Museum

Virginia Museum of Fine Arts exhibition by Xu Bing explores the production and culture of tobacco

MoMA PS1 presents major exhibition looking at art from the past years from a post-9/11 perspective

Alchemy & Inquiry: Philip Taaffe, Fred Tomaselli and Terry Winters at James Cohan Gallery in Shanghai

Montreal Concert Hall designed by Diamond and Schmitt Architects opens to the public

Melbourne's National Gallery of Victoria Director Gerard Vaughan announces retirement

The Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Málaga presents the first exhibition in Spain of Monica Bonvicini

American fine art photographer Todd Hido exhibits at Kaune, Sudendorf Gallery

English artist Rose Wylie opens "Picture on the wall..." at Galerie Michael Janssen

Summer's finest estate offerings are ready to harvest at Nest Egg's Sept. 24 Antiques Auction

Award-winning Belgian-Palestinian designer and silversmith Nedda El-Asmar exhibits at the Mosaic Rooms

Phillips de Pury & Co. to sell major photographic works by leading artists to help save Venice

Chris Johnson: A self-taught product of San Francisco's graffiti culture exhibits at Malmo Konsthall

Mark Wolfe Contemporary Art opens exhibitions of new works by Jacob Tillman and Sarah Thibault

New work by DC artist Ellington Robinson at Project 4 Gallery

The Eloquence of Trees: South Korean artists Jeong Han Yun and Choon Hyang Yun at Bill Lowe Gallery

Details: Bergen Kunsthall opens group exhibition

Recent works and new productions from fifteen international artists and designers at Bielefelder Kunstverein

Exhibition by pioneer of digital art Manfred Mohr opens at bitforms gallery

September 11, 2011

First major Tony Cragg exhibition in 20 years opens at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas

Sotheby's Beyond Limits 2011: New works by Hirst, Quinn and Kusama at Chatsworth selling exhibition

The Morgan Library & Museum presents seventeen master drawings by Ingres

Edward Kienholz, Five Car Stud 1969-1972, revisited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Major exhibition poses tough questions and reasserts Fluxus attitude

Major Southern Commissions of the 1930s-1940s at D. Wigmore Fine Art in New York

Color in Flux: Exhibition on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Weserburg

Prehistoric clay disks found at Noatak National Preserve in Northwestern Alaska

LACMA announces inaugural Art + Film Gala honoring Clint Eastwood and John Baldessari

Shakespeare: Staging the World exhibition announced at the British Museum

Gods, heroes & myths still speak of their ancient power at Bonhams sale of antiquities in London

First major solo exhibition of Brian McCutcheon's work opens at the Indianapolis Museum of Art

Associated Press photographer Anja Niedringhaus chronicles wars in Berlin show

Winning bid for huge diamond seized in Ohio: $2.8 Million

"The Fifth Column" a group exhibition featuring works by seven international artist

New York State Museum opens "New York Remembers" exhibition

Previously unseen drawings and sketches by Nigel Hall at the Royal Academy of Arts

Remembering 9/11 on view at International Center of Photography

September 10, 2011

Israel's national museum returns art to Jewish artist's heirs decades after it was looted

The Walters Art Museum announces major gift of 300 works from John Bourne of Santa Fe

A private German collection and the Gabrielle Keiller collection lead Christie's antiquities sale in London

Poussin masterpiece from the celebrated 'Sacraments' series acquired by the Kimbell Art Museum

Christie's New York announces the auction of a major selection of the remarkable Peter Norton Collection

Legendary Pop diva Anita Mui's jewels and watches to be offered exclusively at Sotheby's

Under a difficult financial situation, Kunstverein Hamburg announces charity auction to save its existence

John Ritter's politically and emotionally charged works at Lyons Wier Gallery Project Space

Exhibition at DC Moore Gallery of new paintings by Eric Aho explore the idea of the covert

Stephenson's Sept. 16 auction includes final inventory of Philadelphia's beloved Glatz Jewelers

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National Park Service secures Petrified Forest; adds 26,000 acres of private land

Photo of Confederate General Robert E. Lee fetches $23K for charity at online auction

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Robert Lobe's sculptures take root in Prospect Park's Pastoral Landscape

Guest-curated exhibition showcases an artist exhange between Egypt and the United States

Tate announces one of the most successful years ever

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New York arts world commemorates September 11 in music, film

September 9, 2011

Museum of Desires: MUMOK exhibition places the collection's potential in a new light

ABC Art Berlin Contemporary "About Painting" exhibition features some 130 artists

Sotheby's announces first dedicated sale of fine Classical Chinese paintings in New York

Mary Brogan Museum of Art & Science's Borrowed Italian painting: ownership dispute

American colorist Ronnie Landfield's Structure and Color opens at Stephen Haller Gallery

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Harper's Bazaar: A Decade of Style at the International Center of Photography

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Bob Levy's slot machines hit the jackpot at Dan Morphy's $1.8 million auction

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Tate Modern to power ahead with art in oil tanks

Sydney's Museum of Contemporary Art opens Primavera 2011: Exhibition by young Australian artists

Milwaukee Art Museum exhibition honors Santiago Calatrava's masterpiece

Bonhams to sell 14th century roof beam from Muslim Spain

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