RECORD FOR SALE OF MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY CHINESE ART AT SOTHEBY's SOTHEBY’S SPRING SALE OF CONTEMPORARY CHINESE ART IN HONG KONG TOTALS HK$214,472,400 (US$27,439,598)
RECORD FOR SALE OF MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY CHINESE ART AT SOTHEBY’S
News-Antique.com - Apr 09,2007 - Hong Kong, April 7, 2007 – Today, in an overflowing salesroom, Sotheby’s spring auction of Contemporary Chinese Art, the first sale during the four-day series at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, totaled HK$214,472,400 (US$27,439,598), setting a new record for a sale of Modern and Contemporary Art at Sotheby’s (est. HK$128/150 million / US$16.4/19.2 million**). The two-section sale, which was comprised of over 180 lots of Chinese modern and contemporary art, was highlighted by Xu Beihong’s Put Down Your Whip, arguably one of the rarest and most significant Chinese oil paintings to appear at auction, which commanded HK$72,000,000 (US$9,211,680), selling to an anonymous buyer over the telephone after competition from at least four other bidders (lot 29, est. in the region of HK$30 million/US$3.8 million). This was a record for any Chinese painting at auction, as well as for the artist. Other artist records were set today for works by Liu Ye, Wei Rong, Michael Lin and Hou Junming at auction.
Executed in 1939, the large-scale oil painting was completed during Xu’s stay in Singapore at the highest peak of his artistic powers. Inspired by an anti-Japanese street drama of the same title staged by Xu’s actress friend, Wang Ying, during Xu’s stay, the painting depicts Lady Shang before a crowd and captures the spirit of the Chinese people against the backdrop of the Second Sino-Japanese War. Xu, who followed Realism in his approach throughout his artistic career, was moved by the patriotic motive of
the drama. He thus blended this sentiment with meticulous brushstrokes and delicately portrayed the female protagonist in the foreground while realistically and vividly rendering the audience at the background. The motive, date, theme and historical backdrop and the epic – all of these mark the painting as Xu Beihong’s most impressive work. Having disappeared from public view for the last half century, its exhibition at Sotheby’s marked the first time the masterpiece was on public view since 1954.
Ms. Evelyn Lin, Head of Contemporary Chinese Art Department & Deputy Director, Asia, said, “Today’s sale demonstrated the increasing strength in the market for Chinese contemporary art and witnessed the participation of many new buyers from across Asia and Europe. The carefully curated sale which offered select works by many key artists in the field as well as works of historical significance achieved the extraordinarily high average lot value of HK$1,284,266. This afternoon we set a new record for any Chinese painting at auction, trumping the previous record, also by the artist, by a huge amount. This demonstrates once again that collectors are willing to pay premium prices for seminal works. We are honoured to have been entrusted to sell such a remarkable masterpiece, and we are very pleased that the painting will join a highly important collection.”
PART I - MODERN CHINESE ART
In addition to Xu Beihong’s Put Down Your Whip, also highlighting the Modern section of this sale were a number of works by Zhu Dequn, including Force d’âme, created in 2004-05, which