This spring, Christies
will offer an outstanding collection of coveted masterpieces in the Fine Chinese Classical Paintings And Calligraphy sale on 28 May. These masterworks represent pivotal moments in Chinese art history.
The leading highlight of the season is the magnificent Washing Horses by Zhao Mengfu as catalogued in Shiqu Baoji. One of the best known horse painters in ancient China, Zhao Mengfu depicted steeds individually and in large numbers. Zhaos horse paintings derived from studying works by the Tang master Han Gan (706-783) and the Song master Li Gonglin (1049-1106), not only their techniques of outlining and colouring the animals forms but also to depict their spirit.
One of the thirty-eight beloved paintings and calligraphy collected by Hongli (1711-1799)―the crowned prince who later became Emperor Qianlong (r. 17351796)―Washing Horses by Zhao Mengfu as catalogued in Shiqu Baoji is a rare and important painting still in private hands. A few months before his ascension to the throne, Hongli inscribed a long poem, signed, and pressed three of his seals in the frontispiece of the handscroll. In 1744, Emperor Qianlong ordered the compilation of Shiqu Baoji to record paintings and calligraphy in the Qing Imperial collection, and Washing Horses was detailed in Chapter thirty-four.
With exquisite and well-preserved imperial accessories of silk and brocade wraps and a carved jade clasp, Washing Horses entered Fujita Museums collection in Japan in the early 20th Century. In March 2017 it was sold at Christies New York in the sensational Important Chinese Art from the Fujita Museum sale. Christies is honoured to present Washing Horses again this May in Hong Kong.
Kim Yu, International Specialist Head of Chinese Paintings Department, commented: We are honoured to present such a sensational masterpiece with extremely strong provenance, a rarity in the auction market. The exquisite craftsmanship of the accompanied jade toggle and brocade wrap further enhances the value of this precious work. We look forward to welcoming global art lovers and collectors to savour the exceptional Chinese paintings and calligraphy this May.