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Auction PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Sotheby’s Classical Chinese Paintings sale totals $35.2 million

Sotheby’s auction of Fine Classical Chinese Paintings brought a total of $35,162,938, totally eclipsing the pre-sale estimate of $9.8/13.7 million. Estimates tumbled throughout the sale and nine lots sold for over $1 million. The auction was led by Emperors of the Southern Song 12th to 13th Century, Calligraphy In Various Script Forms which sold for $5,682,500, several times the $750,000/1 million estimate. This was the first time Sotheby’s has included a dedicated sale of Classical Chinese Paintings in the March series of auctions coinciding with Asia Week New York. The auction brought the overall total for this week’s Asian art sales at Sotheby’s to $61,802,816, well over the estimate of $29.1/41.3 million.

Hongren, Landscape After Lu Guang, 1658. Ink on paper, hanging scroll, 86.3 x 35.3 cm. Est. $1/1.2 million. Sold for: $1,874,500. Photo: Sotheby’s

Iris Miao, Head of the Classical Chinese Painting Department at Sotheby’s New York said: “I am thrilled with the result of today’s Classical Chinese Painting sale. Our total of $35.2 million is more than double the pre-sale high estimate, an exceptionally rare result in the auction world. Collectors and museums from across Asia and the US responded with enormous enthusiasm to this showcase of the finest Chinese paintings and calligraphy works dating from the 12th century to the 20th century, with collectors particularly seeking the most important pieces that came with notable provenance.”

The sale was led by Calligraphy in Various Script Forms by the emperors of the Southern Song, 12th to 13th Century from an Important European Collection which sold for $5,682,500 (est. $750,000/1 million). Originally three separate fan leaves and one album leaf, now mounted as a handscroll, the lot included poems written by the first four emperors of the Southern Song Dynasty. Thatched Cottage In The Southern Village (Nancun Caotang Tu) is Wen Jia’s version of the famous composition by the Yuan dynasty master Wang Meng. The original Wang Meng painting is no longer extant but Wen Jia’s copy sold for $5,122,500, multiples of the $200/250,000 estimate and a new record for the artist at auction.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York acquired a major work in the sale. Eight Views Of Huangshan by Zheng Min sold for a record setting $2,322,500, well over the $200/250,000 estimate. Commenting on the purchase Mike Hearn, Head of the Asian Art department at the museum said: “The acquisition of this gemlike album by Zheng Min featuring eight views of Yellow Mountain (Huang Shan) will immediately become one of the highlights of the Museum’s major holdings of 17th-century Chinese paintings.”

The sale also saw a number of strong prices for pieces from the Ching Yuan Chai Collection. Highlights included Landscape After Lu Guang by Hongren, a leading artist of the Huangshan School in the late Ming Dynasty that sold for $1,874,500 (est. $1/1.2 million) and Temples On Mountains Of The Immortals, by Wen Jia, a masterful synthesis of Daoist symbolism, narrative description and literati aesthetic that sold for $1,314,500 ($200/300,000).

Other highlights of the sale included Eagle Perching on the Pine by Qi Baishi which depicted his signature theme and sold for $1,986,500 (est. $1.2/1.5 million) and Chen Hongshou’s Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove which fetched $ 1,650,500 ($500/700,000).

Henry Howard-Sneyd, Vice Chairman, Asian Art at Sotheby’s said: “I am delighted with the results of our week of Asian art auctions that exceeded the high estimate by over $20 million, to bring an overall total of $61.8 million. The results, especially the records set in the auction of Classical Chinese Paintings, reaffirm New York’s position as a global centre for the Asian Art market.”