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Rare handscroll attributed to Song Dynasty master tops HK$10,000,000 at Bonhams Hong Kong
Nine Songs, attributed to Li Gonglin. Sold for HK$10,140,000. Photo: Bonhams.

HONG KONG.- A rare handscroll of Nine Songs attributed to Li Gonglin, was sold for HK$10,140,000 (US$1.3m) at Bonhams Fine Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy Sale in Hong Kong on 26 May. In total the sale made, HK$55,150,000 (US$7m).

The handscroll, rendered in graded tones of ink, illustrated legendary figures from antiquity, with each individual image accompanied by a calligraphic inscription. It excited enormous interest, and it took 20 minutes of tense bidding between six determined collectors in the room, on the phone and on the internet before the hammer fell on the winning bid.

Other highlights included

• Two paintings by Lu Yanshao from the Collection of Professor William Wu, sourced in San Francisco, that sold for a total of HK$10,560,000 (HK$1.35M). Cloud Waves at Wu Gorge made HK$7,380,000 (US$950,000), and Lushan Cottage, HK$3,180,000 (US$410,000). From the same collection, a spectacular work of a group of four flower paintings painted using ink and colour on gold paper by Cheng Shifa went for HK$562,000 (US$72,000). Dr. Wu was one of the pioneering figures in America responsible for fostering strong artistic and cultural relations between China and the United States.

• The acclaimed Feng Wen Tang collection of 20th century Chinese paintings made a total of HK$14,163,750 (US$1.8m), and included Plantain Forest by Qi Baishi (1864-1957). Painted with ink on gold silk, the work records Qi Baishi’s awe when he first saw the Plantain forest of Mong Cai, when travelling from Dongxing in Guangdong to Mong Cai in Vietnam. It was sold for HK$6,060,000 (US$778,000).

Iris Miao, international consulting head of Bonhams Chinese Paintings department, commented: ‘This was a strong sale that met the market’s demand for fresh artworks of high quality and solid provenance. Several star lots by 20th century masters including Lu Yanshao, Cheng Shifa, Qi Baishi and Li Keran, sold for multiples of their estimates. At the same time, the hunger for classical paintings amongst collectors, exemplified by the spectacular result for the handscroll of Nine Songs, continues unabated.’

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