As travel restrictions still ravage the art industry, auction houses are pushing hard to set a new standard for their auction lineups, including auctions that feature a mix of genres from different eras.
Earlier this evening saw the Sotheby’s inter-category evening sale in Hong Kong. Presented by the auction house as one that spans a thousand years of history by great artists from East and West.
This season’s modern and contemporary sales opened with this diverse sale, which totaled HK $ 317 million (US $ 40.8 million), barely exceeding the low pre-sale estimate of 292 million. of HK dollars. One of the last works in Pablo Picasso’s matador series led the sale of five lots, which edged out “Chinese Matisse” Sanyu and sold for HK $ 140 million (US $ 18 million) after fees.
The ICONS sale saw a face-to-face meeting between first-rate artists from East and West, represented by Sanyu and Picasso
A self-portrait of Zhang Daqian and a bronze sculpture offered this evening
The only ancient sculpture featured in this sale – a Bodhisattva sculpture from the Song Dynasty
Lot 8005 | Pablo Picasso, Matador bust
Oil on canvas
Dated 27.9.70 IV on the back
Dimensions: 130 x 97 cm
- Artist’s estate
- Collection of Marina Picasso, France (By descent from the above)
- Collection of William H. Van Every, Jr. (Sold by the domain: Sotheby’s, New York, November 11, 1988, Lot 69)
- European private collection (acquired directly from the above sale and sold: Sotheby’s, London, June 22, 2010, lot 26)
- Private European collection (acquired directly from the above sale)
- Acquired directly from the above by the current significant American private collector
Estimate: HK $ 100,000,000-150,000,000
Hammer price: HK $ 120,000,000
Realized price: HK $ 139,946,000
The main lot of the sale was that of Picasso Matador bust, which was backed by irrevocable pre-sale offers to ensure it would sell. The premium lot attracted a total of 15 offers from specialists gathered at Sotheby’s Hong Kong gallery.
Auctioneer Ian Mcginlay opened the auction at HK $ 85 million, which started the five-minute bidding battle, mainly between Kent Law, specialist Sotheby’s, Wine, and Felix Kwok, head of the modern art, Asia.
The rather slow process propelled the job past its low pre-sale estimate and was eventually sold to Kwok’s phone bidder, with pallet number L0014, for almost HK $ 140 million with bonuses.
Night auctioneer, Ian Mcginlay
Felix Kwok, Head of Modern Art Asia, placed the winning bid for his client
At the age of eight, Picasso was taken to his very first bullfight. Since then, the iconic Spanish tradition has become a lifelong fascination for Picasso.
The fashion portrait presented in the sale, titled Matador bust, was painted in 1970, when the artist was 89 years old. That year, he attended his last bullfight in Fréjus. The very subject of bullfighting has witnessed a shift from Picasso’s youthful passion for the sport to a much deeper understanding of time and life.
The subject of bullfighting played an important role in Picasso’s artistic career
The proposed lot is the initial work of the final matador series painted as Picasso entered the last chapter of his life between September and October 1970. The last of the series appeared at a Sotheby’s sale in London in 2018 and was sold for £ 16.5. m (22.7 million USD) with bonuses.
The Matador | 146 x 114.3 cm | Sold for £ 16.5m (US $ 22.7m) at Sotheby’s London, February 2018
Lot 8004 | Sanyu, Nude with a Pekingese
Oil on masonite
Signed in Chinese and French
Painted in the 1950s
Dimensions: 84 x 122 cm
- Collection of Pamela Forrest, Paris
- Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei
- Important Asian private collection
Estimate: HK $ 100,000,000-150,000,000
Hammer price: HK $ 90,000,000
Realized price: HK $ 105,476,000
With the same pre-sale estimate as Picasso’s matador painting above, Sanyu’s current lot was set to headline the sale tonight, but instead it only managed to create a small spark .
The proceedings began at HK $ 75 million and saw only three paltry offers from the telephone bidders represented by Kent Law and Felix Kwok. The hammer was brought down at a price of less than HK $ 90 million. And this time it was Law’s client, with paddle number L0002, who won the table for HK $ 105.8 million after fees.
Kent Law, wine specialist at Sotheby’s, won the current lot for his client
Hailed as “Chinese Matisse”, paintings by Sanyu, originally from Sichuan, are among the most sought-after works on the modern art market. Sanyu was among the first Chinese artists to settle in Paris at the height of the artistic precocity of the French city in the early 1920s, alongside first-rate names such as Lin Fengmian and Xu Beihong.
Painted in the 1950s and measuring 84 by 122 cm, Nude with a Pekingese presents two of the three most beloved subjects in Sanyu’s works, namely flowers, animals and nudes. The present work captures the intimate bond between a naked woman at rest and her dog. According to Sanyu’s collected essays, he only created three oil paintings of nude figures and dogs. A comparable work titled Two Nudes On Red Carpet, now residing in the National Taiwan History Museum.
(Right) Sanyu, Franco-Chinese artist hailed as “Chinese Matisse”
Two Nudes On Red Carpet (1950s) | Collection of the National History Museum, Taipei
Sanyu’s momentum in the Asian art market, especially in Hong Kong, is unstoppable. With all of his top three records, all set by nudes.
- Five nudes | 120 x 175 cm | Christie’s Hong Kong, November 2019 | Realized price: HK $ 303,985,000
- Four nudes | 100 x 122 cm | Sotheby’s Hong Kong, Jul 2020 | Realized price: HK $ 258,341,000
- Naked | 122.5 x 135 cm | Sotheby’s Hong Kong, October 2019 | Realized price: HK $ 197,974,000
Lot 8003 | Zhang Daqian, Self-portrait with a Tibetan Mastiff
Splattered ink and color on gold paper, framed
Dimensions: 176 by 96 cm
Provenance: (organized by value)
Previously from the Dafengtang collection
Previously from the Chai Sian Kwan collection
Sotheby’s Hong Kong, October 2, 2018, lot 1366 (Realized price: HK $ 49,739,000)
Estimate: HK $ 48,000,000-60,000,000
Hammer price: HK $ 48,000,000
Realized price: HK $ 57,218,000
Zhang Daqian was one of the most prolific self-portrait painters among the artists of his time. His first self-portraits date back to the age of 28 and he continually returned to the genre into old age.
The current lot, won by a bidder over the phone with Nicolas Chow (Sotheby’s Chariman, Asia) represents Zhang himself wearing a white dress and in profile, recognized by his long silver hair and his spiky beard. The juxtaposition of techniques between the detailed self-portrait and the background splashed with green on gold paper forms a symphonic game.
Zhang Daqian (1899-1983)
Zhang’s self-portrait is also accompanied by a large black dog, believed to be the longtime companion of animal lover artist, Black Tiger – from the meticulous level of detail given to his features and the manner from which he looks up. expectantly at Zhang in the painting.
The beloved Tibetan mastiff has also been featured in a few other paintings, such as Tibetan women with dogs, and Black Tiger below:
Zhang Daqian Black Tiger
Lot 8002 | A large wooden sculpture of Avalokiteshvara, Song Dynasty (960-1279)
Dimensions: 137.2 cm (figure); 178 cm (overall)
Provenance: (organized by value)
John R. Young Collection (1921-2013)
Sotheby’s New York The Hundred Antiques: Fine and Decorative Asian Art sale, June 24, 2020, lot 870 (Realized price: US $ 1,340,000)
Estimate: HK $ 30,000,000-50,000,000
Hammer price: HK $ 38,000,000
Realized price: HK $ 45,728,000
Making its second auction appearance in ten months, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s current sculpture had a low pre-sale estimate of HK $ 30 million (US $ 3.86 million), a jump of 19,300% from its appearance in a sale of Sotheby’s in New York in June 2020., valued at only US $ 20,000 to US $ 30,000.
The sculpture was sold for US $ 1.34 million at the New York auction, when the auction house did not specify which dynasty the sculpture dates back to. This time, listed as a Song Dynasty artifact, the sculpture achieved HK $ 45.7 million (US $ 4.9 million), sold to Carrie Li, Sotheby’s Senior Specialist of Chinese Works of Art Department.
The current sculpture represents the Bodhisattva known in Sanskrit as Avalokiteshvara or in Chinese as Guanyin. The figure is seated in rājalīlāsana (“the posture of royal ease”) on what would have originally been a base imitating a craggy rock with his right arm resting on his bent right knee.
Lot 8001 | Alberto Giacometti, Small bust on column
Designed circa 1951-52 and sunk in 1973
- Collection of Annette Giacometti, Paris
- Private Collection, Paris (Gift of the above and sold: Paris, Hôtel Drouot, June 17, 1996, Lot 30)
- Acquired directly from the above by the previous owner
- Important private collection
Estimate: HK $ 14,000,000 – 18,000,000
Hammer price: HK $ 21,000,000
Realized price: HK $ 25,585,000
Cast by Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti, the proposed bronze figurine belonged to a group of several sculptures designed during this decade representing a bust placed on a high pedestal.
Unlike the use of the pillar to imbue the sculpture placed above a monumental ambience, it aims to emphasize the fragility of the slender silhouette and to suggest the enormous space surrounding the current figure which is reminiscent of Greco-Roman antiquity.
Auction house: Sotheby’s Hong Kong
Sale: ICONS: masterpieces of time and space
Date: April 18, 2021 | 6 p.m.
Lots offered: 5
Sale at rate: 100%
Total Sales: HK $ 373,953,000 (US $ 48,120,000)