2022 in Review: Stellar Momentum for Chinese Art in Asia

2022 in Review: Stellar Momentum for Chinese Art in Asia

Landmark single-owner sales and new world records affirm Sotheby’s leadership in Chinese Art.
Landmark single-owner sales and new world records affirm Sotheby’s leadership in Chinese Art.

A tremendously exciting year for Chinese art at Sotheby’s, led by the two prolific global sale series of the extraordinary personal collection of Sir Joseph Hotung and the Dr Wou Kiuan Collection respectively, sees Sotheby’s continue to be the market leader in Chinese Works of Art in Asia for the 13th consecutive year. 

“The magnificent line-up of sales in 2022 included some of the most illustrious collections of Chinese art in the world, and the Autumn sale series, in particular, was arguably the strongest that Sotheby’s had ever hosted.”
Nicolas Chow, Chairman of Sotheby’s Asia and the International Head and Chairman of the Chinese Works of Art

Witnessing a growing collector base across the globe, the Chinese art departments are looking forward to more cross-category themed events, sales and collaborations. Chow comments, “We are truly honoured to have been entrusted with these masterpieces, and the strong interest and participation they received from a growing collector base – resulting in two new auction records – once again reaffirmed the global market’s unfaltering demand for the most exceptional porcelain and works of art.” 

“The market of Classical Chinese Paintings continues to be good, as it is always a core part of Chinese art. But following the opening of Hong Kong Palace Museum, the public are paying more attention to ancient and traditional Chinese art, which has encouraged a new vibrancy and energy that will certainly be a positive influence on the market.” 
Steven Zuo, Head of Department, Classical Chinese Paintings
“2022 marks another exceptional year of market leadership for Zhang Daqian. It was undoubtedly a special moment to bring the artist’s Landscape after Wang Ximeng to auction, made all the more exciting after setting a new world record for the artist meanwhile breaking the previous record set by ourselves. It is a proof of the ever-increasing desire for superb works by Chinese masters.”
Carmen Ip, Head of Department, Fine Chinese Paintings

Looking ahead as 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of Sotheby’s in Asia, Chow comments, There has been a shift in the market’s focus towards works of art reflecting the most refined aesthetic sensibilities and tracing to the source of Chinese art. Masterpieces embodying technical sophistication and historical significance have proven to be increasingly sought-after amongst collectors and that highly-charged energy will continue to drive the market in 2023.” 

While there’s much to look forward to as 2023 promises a stellar year of carefully curated sales of masterpieces to celebrate this landmark anniversary, explore the year’s highlights in the slideshows below. In just Sotheby’s Asia this year, more than 2,000 lots were offered across Chinese Works of Art, Classical Chinese Paintings and Fine Chinese Paintings departments, with sales reaching HK$2.4 billion.

Chinese Works of Art

Single owner sales were among the stellar highlight sales of 2022 for Chinese Works of Art, led by HOTUNG | 何東 The Personal Collection of the late Sir Joseph Hotung, which took place over four live sales and an online sale across Hong Kong and London. With a remarkable collection of Chinese art and furniture, as well as Western paintings and French silver among the extraordinary pieces offered, 475 lots sold brought a total of HK$931.6 million (£103.3 million), and a new world auction record set for a Chinese chair.

Classical Chinese Paintings

An unforgettable moment for the Chinese Classical Painting department this year was seeing a remarkable hanging scroll by court painting Leng Mei offered in the same sale as the Qianlong seal with which the Qianlong Emperor stamped the painting more than 200 years ago. Other highlights include the first instalment of Chinese paintings and calligraphies from the Yee-Ming Kuo Collection, which saw immense interest and fierce bidding, including for Letter to Yang Yiqing, a handscroll by Li Mengyang which saw 30 mins of bidding and sold for over 90 times its low estimate.

Fine Chinese Paintings

The Fine Chinese Painting department went from strength to strength in 2022, offering works from various collections with impeccable provenances such as items from the late philanthropist Sir Run Run Shaw, Hong Kong textile pioneer Y.C. Wang’s collection of works by Zhang Daqian, and the collection of redologist Professor Kang and Jessica Chao. In April, the department set a new world record of Zhang Daqian, selling Landscape after Wang Ximeng for HK$370.5 million.

2023 In Review

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