The Mark of Tradition: 10 Works from Fine Classical Chinese Paintings & Calligraphy

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Sourced from around the world, Classical Chinese Paintings that are both rare to market and outstanding in quality abound during Asia Week. Important classical pieces like an album by Zhang Ruitu that contains portraits of the Eighteen Arhats paired with Tang dynasty poems are joined by modern paintings and calligraphy such as Fu Baoshi’s hanging scroll landscape Appreciating the Waterfall. Superb works from The Roy and Marilyn Papp Collection of Chinese Paintings, numbering more than 120 lots offered, reflect over two decades of visionary collecting. Click ahead to see just a few of the highlights of Classical Chinese Paintings and Calligraphy that will come to auction during Asia Week.  

The Roy and Marilyn Papp Collection of Chinese Paintings

New York | 14 September

Fine Classical Chinese Paintings & Calligraphy
New York | 15 September

The Mark of Tradition: 10 Works from Fine Classical Chinese Paintings & Calligraphy

  • Zhang Ruitu, Eighteen Luohan. Estimate $500,000–700,000. Important Chinese Art.
    Zhang Ruitu excelled in calligraphy. His landscape paintings are divine, whereas his figure paintings are especially rare. This album of twenty-eight leaves was once a treasured possession of the famous late Qing dynasty antiquarian Ha Shaofu (1856-1934) who pledged to neither borrow nor sell the artwork within his lifetime. According to Yang Shoujing’s colophon inscription in the back of the album, “Japanese collectors once bid more than a thousand pieces of gold in exchange for the album but were rejected.” 


  • Qu Gao, Tiger. Estimate $600,000–800,000. Important Chinese Art.
    The red seals on this Tiger and Fish painting provides a veritable record of the artwork’s past ownership and commercial history. Earliest in date is a seal to the bottom right corner of the painting, which belongs to a famous book collector and art connoisseur Zhu Zhichi who lived during the transitional period of the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. The remaining ten seals highlight an impressive record of imperial provenance tracing back to Emperor Qianlong, followed by Emperor Jiaqing, and ending with the last Emperor Xuantong. The painting was also published in Qinding Shiqu Baoji Sanbian, classified under the storage quarters of Qianqing Gong, the Palace of Heavenly Purity.

  • Tang Yin, Poems in Running Script. Estimate $200,000–400,000. Important Chinese Art.
    Tang Yin was a gifted painter, calligrapher and poet known in Chinese art history as one of the four masters of Ming dynasty. This artwork is dated 1519, four years before the death of the artist at the age of fifty-three. According to colophons by Yang Baoguang (1830-1912) and Luo Jialun (1897-1969), a landscape and figure painting once accompanied the calligraphy but have long since been lost. What survives is a series of fifteen seven-syllable quatrains, ten of which is outside the records of Liuru Jushi Quanji, the Complete Works of Layman Liuru, compiled by Tang Zhongmian (1753-1827). 


  • Dong Qichang, Calligraphy After Chunhua Ge Tie. Estimate $80,000–120,000. Important Chinese Art.
    Of Dong Qichang’s surviving works, the most common is his running script calligraphy. In these two albums, Dong Qichang emulates the calligraphy of Zhang Zhi and Wang Xizhi from the second and eighth volumes of the famous Chunhua Ge Tie, which is an engraved calligraphy compendium of model letters from the imperial archives of the Northern Song Dynasty. 


  • Fu Baoshi, Appreciating the Waterfall. Estimate $500,000–700,000. Important Chinese Art.
    Fu Baoshi was preoccupied in the 1930s with art-historical research. After he settled in the wartime capital of Chongqing in 1939, he began to devote himself seriously to painting. Appreciating the Waterfall was completed in 1944 while Fu Baoshi was still in Chongqing. The lush trees in the foreground stands in marked contrast against the exposed rocky mountain in the background, creating a sense of height and depth in the absence of the western one point perspective.


  • Wang Hui, et al., The Kangxi Emperor's Southern Inspection Tour, Section of Scroll VI. Estimate $4,000,000–6,000,000. The Roy and Marilyn Papp Collection of Chinese Paintings.
    The Kangxi Emperor’s Southern Inspection Tour is a documentary painting that narrates the emperor’s journey visually in the horizontal scroll format. The Kangxi Emperor undertook six Southern inspection tours during his reign, a set of twelve scrolls were created based on the second tour of 1689. This fragment seems to be the conclusion of the sixth scroll. In painting style, it is consistent with the rest of the set, depicting dense populations and Jiangnan scenery. In particular, a few large trees in this fragment show clear traces of Wang Hui’s painting style.


  • Shen Zhou, Enjoying the Mid-Autumn Moon in the Bamboo Villa. Estimate $1,800,000–2,500,000. The Roy and Marilyn Papp Collection of Chinese Paintings.
    In 1486, Shen Zhou was sixty years old. On a night of the Mid-Autumn Festival, he hosted a banquet at his residence. Shen Zhou, Pu Ruzheng, and another friend appreciated the moon in Ping’an Pavilion in the Bamboo garden. After lamenting the passage of time, Shen Ruzheng produced a small piece of paper and sought a landscape from Shen Zhou. Shen Zhou’s work shows an unconscious harking back to Wu Zhen, this small leaf can even be said to capture the essence of Wu Zhen’s Poetic Ideas at Caoting weather in composition, brushwork, or ink work.

  • Wang Yuanqi, Landscape of Yushan. Estimate $350,000–550,000. The Roy and Marilyn Papp Collection of Chinese Paintings.
    Wang Yuanqi painted Landscape of Yushan to entertain a family friend named Xuan, who after moving to Mount Yu some years ago was paying Wang Yuanqi a visit for the first time. Tracing the Orthodox school’s artistic lineage, Wang Yuanqi emulates the brush styles of Huang Gongwang, the revered Yuan dynasty master, to whom Yushan was a recurring subject matter for painting as well as his place of birth and death.


  • Fang Shishu, The Autumn Colors on the Qiao and Hua Mountain. Estimate $150,000–250,000. The Roy and Marilyn Papp Collection of Chinese Paintings.
    Fang Shishu is one of the most important artists of Yangzhou during the eighteenth century. Although often categorized as an orthodox literati, he was deeply immersed in the inner circles of the merchant-princes who controlled the salt trades and patronized the arts. In this painting, Fang Shishu made a study of Dong Qichang’s rendering of a painting, originally composed by Zhao Mengfu, titled Autumn Colors of Que and Hua Moutains.  



  • Attributed to Dai Xi, Landscapes. Estimate $8,000–10,000. Saturday at Sotheby’s.
    The subject matter of this set of artworks corresponds to the sixteen pleasures described by Su Shi in his Shangxin Shiliu Shi: the sound of a distant temple bell from across the river, conversing by a bamboo window on a cool rainy day, and making tea with fresh spring water upon the arrival of a guest, to name a few.  Each painting within the set of sixteen leaves is painted after a different master landscapists from the Tang, Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties and varies in brushwork and style.     


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