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Sotheby's to offer further masterpieces from the Mei Yun Tang Collection of paintings by Chang Dai-chien
Chinese paintings with the original paintings & discourses on Chinese art by professor Chang Dai-chien. Photo: Sotheby's.

HONG KONG.- Following its tremendously successful sale of The Mei Yun Tang Collection of Paintings by Chang Dai-chien in May 2011, Sotheby’s Hong Kong have been entrusted once again by Mei Yun Tang to offer a selection of masterpieces by Modern Chinese master Zhang Daqian (Chang Dai-chien) at an auction in late May 2013. Titled A Master’s Secrets Unveiled, this sale will feature pieces especially created for the seminal work, Chinese Paintings with the Original Paintings & Discourses on Chinese Art By Professor Chang Dai-chien. Published in 1961, it is authoritative and the single most systematic exposition of the artist’s techniques and theories, compiled and published by the founder of the Mei Yun Tang Collection, Mr. Kao Ling-mei. The Mei Yun Tang Collection is one of the most preeminent and comprehensive private collections of Zhang Daqian. Together with other selections from the Collection, the featured pieces will showcase Zhang’s career from the 1940s to the 1960s and exhibit his mastery over subjects as diverse as portraiture, landscapes, flowers and birds. The publication explores Zhang’s journey towards his exceptional artistic achievements and celebrates the unique relationship between the artist and Mr. Kao Ling-mei.

None of the works to be offered in A Master’s Secrets Unveiled have been publicly exhibited since 1997. Sotheby’s is pleased to announce that the highlights of the sale will be exhibited in Beijing from 8 to 9 May followed by an extended exhibition in Sotheby’s Hong Kong Gallery starting from 23 May prior to the sale in late May.

The initial sale of the Collection in May 2011 achieved an unparalleled total of HK$680 million / US$87.3 million (Estimate: in excess of HK$130 million / US$16.7 million*). The top lot of the sale, Lotus and Mandarin Ducks, sold for nearly HK$200 million / US$26 million (Estimate: HK$20 million / US$2.56 million), setting the auction record for Zhang Daqian that still stands today.

Sotheby’s Head of Fine Chinese Paintings, Mr. C. K. Cheung, says, “The superb artistry of The Mei Yun Tang Collection has long been celebrated worldwide, and Sotheby’s is extremely honoured to have been entrusted once again with works from this renowned Collection for the upcoming sale, to be titled A Master’s Secrets Unveiled. While the sale of The Mei Yun Tang Collection of Paintings by Chang Dai-chien in May 2011 revealed the ardent friendship between the artist and the collector, the upcoming auction will highlight works featured in the renowned publication - Chinese Paintings with the Original Paintings & Discourses on Chinese Art By Professor Chang Dai-chien, illustrating Zhang’s theories and techniques on paintings through a varied assemblage of his works.

“An immensely prolific painter, Zhang expressed through the prefaces and postscripts on his works his unique artistic insights. Chinese Paintings with the Original Paintings & Discourses on Chinese Art By Professor Chang Dai-chien, painstakingly compiled over a period of three years by Mr Kao Ling-mei - the owner of the Mei Yun Tang Collection - is the first-ever systematic record of Zhang’s insights and teachings in the art of painting and provides a valuable foundation for future studies of the artist’s works.

“Together, the two themed sales reveal the timeless artistic merits of Zhang’s oeuvre that are doubtless a great inspiration and example for both present and future generations.”

Zhang Daqian (Chang Dai-chien; 1899 – 1983)
One of the greatest Chinese artists of the 20th century, Zhang Daqian was proficient in a broad range of artistic styles including paintings, calligraphy, seal carving and verse composition. Generally recognised as the Picasso of China today, Zhang received training in traditional Chinese painting from childhood. His meticulous study and imitation of the style and technique of ancient Chinese painting masters brought him great success during his early career. In the 1960s, Zhang pioneered the splashed-ink-and-colour technique, which heralded the birth of an unprecedented artistic style. Fellow Chinese painter Xu Beihong once praised him as “the most talented artist of the last 500 years” in the traditional landscape genre.

Zhang travelled extensively throughout his life. Following his departure from the mainland China in 1949, he moved from place to place, including Hong Kong, India, Argentina, Brazil and the United States. Eventually, he settled in Taiwan. His solo art exhibitions were variously held in Europe, the United States and Asia and he enjoyed a significant reputation around the world. In the western world, both Zhang and Picasso have been hailed as the star artists of their time and the meeting of these two grand masters in 1956 has been much talked about and long remembered in the art circles.

Today, Zhang Daqian’s paintings are highly sought-after by art collectors worldwide. In The Global Art market – An Overview of 2011 published by Artprice, Zhang Daqian, whose works fetched an annual auction revenue of US$550 million, surpassed Andy Warhol and Pablo Picasso to become the world’s best-selling artist.

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