Published: May 31, 2017
HONG KONG — A rare handscroll of “Nine Songs” attributed to Li Gonglin sold for $1.3 million at Bonhams Chinese paintings and calligraphy sale on May 26. In total the sale made $7 million.
The handscroll, rendered in graded tones of ink, illustrated legendary figures from antiquity, with each individual image accompanied by a calligraphic inscription. It excited enormous interest, and it took 20 minutes of tense bidding among six determined collectors in the room, on the phone and on the internet before the hammer fell on the winning bid.
Other highlights included two paintings by Lu Yanshao from the collection of Professor William Wu, sourced in San Francisco, that sold for a total of $1.35 million. “Cloud Waves at Wu Gorge” made $950,000, and “Lushan Cottage,” $410,000. From the same collection, a spectacular work of a group of four flower paintings painted using ink and color on gold paper by Cheng Shifa went for $72,000. Dr. Wu was one of the pioneering figures in America responsible for fostering strong artistic and cultural relations between China and the United States.
The acclaimed Feng Wen Tang collection of Twentieth Century Chinese paintings made a total of $1.8 million and included “Plantain Forest” by Qi Baishi (1864-1957). Painted with ink on gold silk, the work records Qi Baishi’s awe when he first saw the plantain forest of Mong Cai when traveling from Dongxing in Guangdong to Mong Cai in Vietnam. It was sold for $778,000.
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