Chinese fine art under hammer

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 March, 2012, 12:00am


Art lovers are looking forward to over 300 lots of fine Chinese paintings that are estimated to sell for at least HK$200 million at the Sotheby's Hong Kong spring sales.

C.K. Cheung, head of Sotheby's fine Chinese paintings department, says there will be paintings and calligraphies from private collections in Japan on offer, including those by Wu Changshuo and Qi Baishi. Paintings by Fu Baoshi and Zhang Daqian will also be on the block.

The star lot is Qi Baishi's Willows At The Riverside; Begonias (about HK$15 million to HK$20 million). The pair of gold screens depict a Chinese landscape and flowers painted in ink and colour. It was completed in 1922, at the height of Qi's popularity in Japan.

Another highlight is Xu Beihong's most popular subject, the horse. Galloping Horse (about HK$4.2 million to HK$6 million) was dedicated to Dr Joseph Needham, who spent several years in China to enhance Sino-British cultural and scientific exchange.

Zhang Daqian's Snow Storm - Switzerland depicts the scenery he saw during a trip to Switzerland with friends. The work is an innovative example of his style of transforming a mountain blizzard into abstract patterns of rich, vibrant colours.

The hottest work of contemporary Asian art up for auction is Bloodline - Big Family: Family No. 2 (about HK$25 million to HK$35 million), the earliest work from Zhang Xiaogang's Bloodline series offered at any auction.

Also on offer is 1993 No. 4 by Fang Lijun and A Good Dog by Liu Wei, that are expected to attract intense bidding.

Rare ceramics also drum up a lot of interest, and this year the most prized lot for Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art is the Northern Song lobed washer from the Ru kilns, or 'official ware'.

These pieces are rare because production only lasted 20 years, and just 79 items are known, with only six remaining in private hands besides the offered piece.

The flower-shaped bowl is arguably the most desirable piece of Ru official ware still in private hands, which is estimated to be worth between HK$60 million and HK$80 million.

There is also the third sale from the Chinese porcelain collection known as Meiyintang ('Hall among Rose Beds'). There are more than 50 lots with pieces from Jingdezhen, China's foremost porcelain manufacturing centre.

One of the highlights is a blue-and-white 'Bird' charger from the Yongle period during the Ming dynasty. It features a long-tailed bird swooping from a branch laden with lychees to catch an insect.

There will also be sales of modern and contemporary Southeast Asian paintings and 20th century Chinese art.