Mao Zedong-inspired landscape painting, sold by artist Li Keran for 80 yuan four decades ago, fetches 184 million yuan at auction

PUBLISHED : Monday, 16 November, 2015, 3:56pm
UPDATED : Monday, 16 November, 2015, 3:56pm

A landscape painting by a renowned contemporary Chinese artist fetched 184 million yuan (HK$224 million) at auction on Sunday, a local newspaper reported.

The painting, Landscape in Red by Li Keran (1907-1989), marked the first in the domestic autumn auction season this year with the final price surpassing 100 million yuan.

The floor price was set at 58 million yuan in the autumn sale by China Guardian Auctions and was sold after 20 minutes, according to the Beijing Times.

Landscape in Red is a classic theme of Li who was inspired by a line from a poem by Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China: “Looking at a landscape in red and the forests all dyed”.

Li produced seven paintings on the theme from 1962-64, which marked the pinnacle of his painting life and a milestone for new Chinese art.

Four of the paintings have been collected by national art institutions and the one auctioned on Sunday was the smallest of the seven.

It previous owner was the Rongbaozhai (Studio of Glorious Treasures) in Beijing, which is famous for its collection of calligraphy and paintings. It bought Li’s piece for 80 yuan more 40 years ago. It auctioned the painting in 2000 for 5 million yuan, the record high for a single painting by Li Keran.

Two paintings by the prestigious artist Pan Tianshou (1897-1971) were sold at much higher than expected prices.

Sunday’s autumn sales bode well for coming auctions, the report said.