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Sotheby's announces first dedicated sale of fine Classical Chinese paintings in New York
Anonymous, Portraits of Jade Emperor and the Heavenly Kings. Ink and color on silk, framed. Est. $60/80,000. Photo: Sotheby's.
NEW YORK, N.Y.- On Tuesday 13 September 2011 Sotheby’s will present Fine Classical Chinese Paintings, the first dedicated New York auction in this category for over a decade. The sale is made up of 80 diverse works from the Ming and Qing dynasties, as well as a small selection of modern and contemporary works that were executed clearly in the classical manner. The pre-sale exhibition opens on Friday 9 September.

The sale is led by Running Script Transcription of an Epitaph, written for Minister Chen Xinyi by Dong Qichang who is known as the most influential artist of his time (lot 47, est. $200/300,000).* The eight-leaf album, which has been expertly kept in its original 1850s mountings, was appraised by its then famed collector Kong Guangtao as “…genuinely stately and thoughtful in spirit, so fluid and elegant as if executed with divine power”.

Thatched Hut in Autumnal Mountains by Dong Bangda, who was admired and highly praised by Emperor Qianlong, is a further highlight (lot 23, est. $180/250,000). The grandly composed landscape executed on silk conveys such free, refined brushwork that it is conspicuous among the artists repertoire.

The painter of Seated Portrait of a Prince in Casual Wear remains unknown, but there is no doubt that the extremely finely and gracefully portrayed gentleman was from the imperial lineage (lot 40, est. $90/120,000). The painting is particularly notable for the level of detail with which the artist has depicted the rug and lacquered throne in the painting.

The sale also includes two exquisite paintings of Daoist and Buddhist subject matter: Portraits of Jade Emperor and the Heavenly Kings (lot 70, est. $60/80,000), and Heavenly Deities of Land and Water (lot 71, est. $5/7,000). Besides the extremely vibrant and vivid brushstrokes and coloring, each painting celebrates its rarity with an inscription and a specific date, the former being commissioned by one of Jiajing emperor’s concubines in 1545, and the latter dedicated to Longshu Temple on Putuo Mountain in 1617, the forty-fifth year of Wanli reign.

A further highlight is a selection of Wu School fan paintings, epitomized by the four masters, Shen [Zhou], Wen [Zhengming], Tang [Yin] and Qiu [Ying]. Many of the works were previously in the distinguished collection of the Gong Brothers of Taizhou. Among the leading works from this part of the sale is Boating by Tan Yin (lot 59, est. $40/60,000) and Random Thoughts During Spring Rain, Poem in Running Script by Shen Zhou (lot 56, est. $18/25,000).

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