A stunning scroll from Hongren achieved stunning results at Sotheby's Fine Chinese Classical Paintings auction in New York yesterday (September 13).
Hongren was one of the four great monk painters of the early Qing dynasty and was known as the leading artist of the Huangshan or Anhui School. He became a monk in protest of the fall of the Ming dynasty, as did fellow artists Zhu Da, Shitao and Kun Can.
The ink on paper hanging scroll, entitled Seclusion amid Mountains and Streams, was signed Jianjing and bore three of the artist's seals. Its calligraphic frontispiece was created and signed by Xu Heng and featured two of his seals. Also by Xu Heng were the colophons, which were dated 1939 and bore a further five seals.
A superb example of Hongren's painting style, the first half of the small scroll displays all of the simplistic yet animated characteristics of his style. The second half of the scroll is "almost certainly" the work of a different contemporary artist, displaying a far less dynamic composition.
Due to it requiring further study as to the identity of the second artist, who is believed to have been a skilled follower of Hongren, the piece was given a $600,000-800,000 pre-sale estimate. However, its appeal to collectors was displayed by a 300% increase on this estimate, when it sold for $3.2m.
Also featuring at Sotheby's was a stunning handscroll from the Zhe School master Lan Ying, which sold comfortably within its $1.2m-2.2m estimate, at $1.7m. Read more about Lan Ying's extraordinary work with our preview of the sale.
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