Sotheby’s To Auction Record-Breaking Zhang Daqian Work

March 16, 2016

NewsStandOnline.Net (16-March-2016): Among 250 works by Chinese modern and contemporary artists at Sotheby’s Fine Chinese Paintings Spring Sale 2016, the auction house is due to sell “Peach Blossom Spring,” a large hanging scroll estimated at $HK50 million to $HK65 million ($6.4-8.3 million), the highest estimate in the history of that sale.

Painted by Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), “Peach Blossom Spring,” 1983, is considered by many to be one of the most important of Zhang’s late-period works.

It can be seen as emblematic of the period from the 1960s until the painter’s death, in which his work is characterized by its use of splashed ink and color. He used these semi-abstractly to evoke imagined landscapes.

Sotheby’s To Auction Record-Breaking Zhang Daqian Work

In “Peach Blossom Spring,” the technique is used to conjure up the eponymous headwaters, a hidden utopia from a 5th-century Chinese folktale.

Though some saw these works as influenced by the Action painting movement in the United States, Daqian maintained that the practice had a Chinese tradition reaching back much farther, with the method appearing in Tang dynasty (617-907) texts about painting.

When the piece was last up for auction, in 1987, it set an auction record for modern Chinese painting, selling for $HK1.87 million ($240,000). Since that sale, the record auction price for Daqian’s work has increased to $HK66.2 million ($8.54 million), paid for “La Beauté Antique,” 1953, at the October 2014 Fine Chinese Paintings sale, smashing an estimate of $HK35 million.

At the 2016 edition of the sale, “Peach Blossom Spring” will be joined by additional works by the artist from throughout his career, as well as works by other artists including Qi Baishi and Fu Baoshi.