NEW YORK - Following highly successful auctions in 2013, the Fine Classical Chinese Painting & Calligraphy sale features a wide range of works, dating from the 14th through 20th centuries, including paintings by Zhu Da (Bada Shanren), Yuan Yao, Hongren and Wang Duo. Below are just a few of the highlights from the sale, which will be held 20 March during New York Asia week at Sotheby’s.

Zhu Da, Poems in Running Script, ink on paper, album of eight leaves. Estimate $200,000 – 300,000.

Zhu Da (Bada Shanren, 1626-1705), a descendant of the Ming imperial family, became a Buddhist monk after the Manchu ruling of China from 1644. He started practicing calligraphy by following Wang Xizhi (ca. 303-ca. 361), Yan Zhenqing (709-785) and others for an in-depth study of the classical script types, as well as the styles of the early masters. He was then influenced by Huang Tingjian’s (1045-1105) expressive cursive script into his 60’s. In his later years, he finally managed to synthesize different styles and scripts into a style of his own. This album was completed in 1703, as a very good example of his later work.

Yuan Yao, The Cantilevered Road to Shu, ink and color on silk, hanging scroll. Estimate $2,000,000 – 3,000,000.

This huge landscape, painted on a single piece of silk measuring six feet high by eight feet wide (extremely rare, if not unprecedented) is much more intimately organic than the great majority of Yuan Yao’s works, with details freely brushed in the manner of a literati painter, suggesting that it was all painted by the hand of the master. Here the single piece of material, somehow obtained, and employed for one uninterrupted view, allowed the painter to create a highly unusual set of shifting perspectives, providing enough depth in more than one dimension for the eye to travel far behind the central mountain mass, to left and to right of it, permitting a degree of three-dimensionality rarely seen in Chinese landscape painting since the monumental works of the Song dynasty. 

Hongren, Views of Mt. Huang, ink on silk, two album leaves, mounted for framing. Estimate $200,000 – 280,000.

These two album leaves were in Wu Hufan’s (1894-1968) collection. The mounting border inscription indicates that the whole album should be sixteen leaves. Wu Hufan purchased these two in the summer of 1942, which he then gave to Lu Hanbang (20th Century) as a gift in the winter. These two album leaves were offered in Sotheby’s New York 1983 Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy Auction, and also used to be part of Prof. James Cahill’s collection.

Wang Duo, Copy of the Mi Fu’s “Colophon to Ouyang Xun’s Calligraphy,” ink on satin, hanging scroll. Estimate $380,000 - $450,000.

Wang Duo (1592-1652) was one of the greatest calligraphers during the transitional period between Ming and Qing dynasties. He was one of the first calligraphers to transform the small characters in the model book to huge hangings scroll with big-sized characters. This piece is a copy of Mi Fu’s (1051-1107) colophon to a pair of works by the Tang calligrapher, Ouyang Xun (557-641). In this hanging scroll, Wang Duo successfully created a composition style of his own by combining big and small characters, balanced and unbalanced character writing, as well as wet and dry brush strokes.