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Sotheby's Hong Kong Fine Chinese Paintings Sale to take place on 30 May
Qi Baishi (1864 – 1957), Prosperity and Longevity. Ink and colour on paper, framed 68 x 32.5 cm. Est. HK$6,800,000 – 8,800,000 / US$870,000 – 1,100,000. Photo: Sotheby's.

HONG KONG.- Sotheby’s Hong Kong will present a sale of Fine Chinese Paintings on 30 May offering approximately 90 works by modern artists. Among them are fresh-tomarket pieces from distinguished private collections including the Mo Boji Family Collection, the Mao Zijian Collection and the Ye Gongchuo Family Collection. In total, the sale is estimated in excess of HK$40 million / US$5.1 million.

C.K. Cheung, Head of Chinese Paintings Department, Sotheby’s, says, “Following our remarkable HK$700 million spring sale in April, we are delighted to present another meticulously-curated auction of Fine Chinese Paintings on 30 May. This sale will stand out not in terms of its size, but rather for its breadth of privately-held fresh-to-market works including fan leaves, handscrolls, albums and more. Key highlights of the sale include exceptional pieces by pioneering artists of the Lingnan School, as well as works by masters of the Shanghai School from the late 19th century to early 20th century, such as Zhao Zhiqian and Wu Changshuo. Many of these pieces are making their auction debuts, offering a unique opportunity for connoisseurs.”

Sale Highlights
Work of Jiang Zhaohe from a Czech Private Collection
Jiang Zhaohe (1904 – 1986) Old Man 1940 Ink on paper, hanging scroll 107.3 x 56.8 cm Est. HK$1,000,000 – 1,500,000 / US$130,000 – 190,000

In 20th-century China, artist Jiang Zhaohe was known for his realist figure painting. At the pinnacle of his career, in the 1930s and ‘40s, he produced Western-style sketches in traditional ink; notably, his masterpiece Refugees, was created during this period. However, aside from a handful of pieces collected by Jiang’s own family and museums, works from this era were rarely seen in private collections and known only through mentions found in publications. Some of these works have emerged on the market from collections of expatriates based in China during that time, who commissioned or purchased them through exhibitions. Among them is this piece, Old Man, now available once again after decades in private hands.

Qi Baishi Painting from the Robert Chang Collection
Qi Baishi (1864 – 1957) Prosperity and Longevity Ink and colour on paper, framed 68 x 32.5 cm Est. HK$6,800,000 – 8,800,000 / US$870,000 – 1,100,000

In his later career, Qi Baishi’s oeuvre took on a markedly relaxed and carefree spirit. Even when his health waned, Qi continued to paint – in particular peonies, which became one of his favourite subject matters at that stage. Created the same year he passed away, Prosperity and Longevity evokes the light-heartedness typical of works produced during Qi’s later days, with its bold, quick brushstrokes.

Paintings and Calligraphy Works from the Mo Boji Family Collection
Widely recognised as the largest in Guangdong Province, the Mo Boji book collection boasted, at its peak, more than 500,000 ancient titles collected over 34 years. Mo Boji (1878–1958) was a wealthy merchant who established a western pharmacy in Guangzhou. Influenced by his father – an expert on Song Dynasty literature and an avid collector of books by notable figures of the Song and Yuan (1271– 1368) dynasties – Mo developed a deep interest in Chinese classical studies. This collection of works comprises paintings and calligraphy which were directly dedicated to him and his family, as well as calligraphy couplets from Qing dynasty scholars and minsters.

Huang Binhong (1864 – 1955) Secluded Studio in Verdant Mountains Ink and colour on paper, hanging scroll 118.5 x 52.8 cm Est. HK$3,800,000 – 5,000,000 / US$490,000 – 640,000
In 1941, Mo Boji fled to Hong Kong to escape the Second World War, subsequently moving to Macau where he became the neighbour of collector Wu Ming. Sharing a medical background and a passion for collecting, Mo and Wu became close friends; soon, Wu, an ardent supporter of Huang Binhong, introduced Mo to the artist. In 1946, Mo Boji was gifted three pieces of work by Huang Binhong. Secluded Studio in Verdant Mountains is one of the three pieces; another piece, Studio Amid the Mountains, was sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in 2015.

Painted in 1946, Secluded Studio in Verdant Mountains was inspired by the classical stylistic approach of the Northern Song dynasty in which each ink stroke is vigorously and firmly pressed against the paper with thick ink. Perched on the very top of the mountain, the studio represents a peaceful realm on a verdant peak.

Ju Lian (1828 – 1904) Blossoms (Detail) Ink and colour on silk, handscroll Painting: 29.3 x 444.8 cm Est. HK$250,000 – 350,000 / US$32,000 – 45,000
Ju Lian and his cousin created many works of art during their travels and became close friends with Zhang Jingxiu. In Zhang’s garden at his home in Dongguan, the brothers sketched the majority of their floral paintings, bringing to life the flowers Zhang carefully tended. After Zhang passed away, Ju Lian and his brother moved to Panyu, where they built a garden of their own with flowers and plants of all types. It was their own garden that inspired Ju Lian to create Blossoms, a four-metre-long handscroll depicting more than 50 types of flowers in bloom, from across the four seasons.

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