From classical masters to modern pioneers, Christies
will offer an outstanding collection of coveted masterpieces for auction on 26th and 27th May. These masterworks represent pivotal moments in Chinese art history, with timeless works from leading Qing dynasty artist Zhang Zongcang, to 20th century masters such as Zhang Daqian, Wu Guanzhong, Fu Baoshi, and Li Keran.
Kim Yu, International Specialist Head of Chinese Paintings Department, commented: The incredible selection of masterpieces showcases some of the most important paintings by iconic Chinese artists. These works span multiple eras and celebrate the highest levels of artistic achievement in Chinese history. We are honoured to be offering such a sensational line up of works this May, and look forward to convening global collectors together at this important moment in the art market.
The leading highlight of the season is the magnificent Temple at the Mountain Peak by Zhang Daqian. Painted on luxurious gold paper and splashed in rich and vibrant mineral colours of blue and green, this monumental splashed ink painting was created in 1967 and is considered one of the most representative examples during the artists residence in Brazil.
The work has a storied past and was previously in the collection of Li Zulai and his wife Li Deying. Zhang Daqian and Li Zulai had an intimate friendship, to the extent where Zhang relied on the Li family to oversee his commercial development from 1949. The Li family also helped organize the exhibition Recent Paintings by Chang Dai-Chien at the Hong Kong City Hall in 1971.
The work is grand in scale and unique in that it was specially mounted in Zhang Daqians studio in Japan with luxurious Japanese patterned silk fabric and decorated with a tailor-made blue-and-white cloisonné scroll knob with the artists seal san qian da qian, which translates to three thousand Daqians.
Also offered this season is a masterpiece from the classical period, Wutong Studio in Autumn by Zhang Zongcang - one of the most favored artists by the Qianlong Emperor during the Qing Dynasty.
The exquisitely painted handscroll depicts the idyllic surroundings of Wutong Studio, a noted structure in the Old Summer Palace. The artist used sophisticated dry brushwork to deliberate the textures of the mountains and rocks. At the centre of the painting is a scholar dressed in red, possibly the Emperor, graciously contemplating while getting ready to read or study.
This work was once part of the Qing imperial collection and was published in the authoritative catalogue Catalogue of the Paintings and Calligraphy in the Imperial Collection Part III (Shiqu Baoji Sanbian). Emperor Qianlong inscribed a poem on the painting and imprinted many imperial seals on it, further confirming the importance of its artistic value to the Emperor and his court.
An additional highlight is Chess Playing by Fu Baoshi. This classical composition stands as one of the greatest examples of the artists sublime skill in figure painting during the Jingangpo period when the artist resided in Chongqing.
Fu Baoshi expertly depicts historical figures in an elegant yet animated manner as the three figures play chess deep in the forest a theme that is rare in his oeuvre.
The painting comes with strong provenance, having been in the renowned private collections in Hong Kong and Macao, as seen in the collectors seals of Huang Weixiong and Deng Cangwu from the 1960s 1970s.
A further highlight is Li Kerans iconic political painting A Million Strong Across the Yangtze. The work was created on the advent of the fifteenth year of the founding of the Peoples Republic of China. It is the artists interpretation of Mao Zedongs poem Peoples Liberation Army Captures Nanjing, depicting an army of battleships in the foreground, while the sight of Nanjing city can be seen through the stormy weather in the distance.