Feng Zikai’s Pleasures of Life Sold for US$1.48m, Achieving New World Record Price for the Artist

Christie's Hong Kong Fine Chinese Modern Paintings sale took place on 28 November and totalled HK$377m (US$48.5m). The top two lots, as expected, were paintings by Zhang Daqian, a prodigious Chinese splashed-ink painter, also one of the world’s best-selling artists. Another highlight of the sale was Pleasures of Life, created by Feng Zikai, often referred to as the “Father of Chinese Cartoons”. The set of paintings was hammered down at HK$9.5m and sold for HK$11.5m, setting a new world record price for the artist.

Feng Zikai

Feng Zikai was not only a pioneering artist of Chinese cartoons but also a dedicated writer and educator. The present lot is an album of twelve leaves, each leaf inscribed and signed with seal of the artist.

Estimated at HK$1.5m – 2.5m, this album was hammered down at HK$9.5m and sold for HK$11.5m with buyer’s premium. It became the most expensive painting created by Feng Zikai, achieving a new auction record price for the artist.

Estimated at HK$25m – 30m, Zhang Daqian’s Splashed Colour Lotus was sold for the highest price of the sale. The painting was created in the 1980s, generally regarded to show the consummate skills and highest achievements of the artist. The sublime aura permeating from the painting roots in Zhang’s early fascination with Buddhism and lotus, or Padma, which is a symbol for cosmic renewal and primordial purity. The painting was hammered down at HK$36m and sold for HK$42.85m with buyer’s premium.

Also painted by Zhang Daqian, Spring Snow on Magnificent Hills was estimated at HK$35m – 45m. In 1954, Zhang Daqian settled in Mogi das Cruzes near Sao Paolo in Brazil after travelling the world from India to Argentina. There, he built an extravagant, lush traditional Chinese garden which he named the Garden of Eight Virtues. The 1950s and the 1960s were the time when Zhang Daqian started to experiment with splashed-ink as a technique. It was in the Garden of Eight Virtues that the artist painted Spring Snow on Magnificent Hills. With adept accumulation of ink layer by layer across the composition, the artist constructed an atmospherically ethereal world depicting the beautiful scenery. The painting was hammered down at its low estimate HK$35m and sold for HK$41.72m with buyer’s premium.

Another highlight of the sale, Huang Yongyu’s Autumn Scenery carried an estimate of HK$7m – 9m. Huang is an acclaimed Chinese painting master who is known for his woodblock prints, ink paintings and literary works. Autumn Scenery was hammered down at HK$16m and sold for HK$19.3m with buyer’s premium.

Zhang Daqian’s Ladies and Butterflies was a premium lot with its estimate on request (The Value learnt the estimate was HK$35m). The bidding started at HK$18m and ended at HK$22m, at which the lot was bought-in. 

Top five lots (by prices realized)

Zhang Daqian (1899-1983). Splashed Colour Lotus.

Scroll, mounted and framed, ink and colour on paper.
Inscribed and signed, with seven seals of the artist and one dated seal of renxu year (1981)

Lot no.: 1400
Created in: 1981
Size: 134.5 x 68.5cm
Estimate: HK$25,000,000 - 30,000,000
Hammer price: HK$36,000,000
Price realized: HK$42,850,000

Zhang Daqian (1899-1983). Spring Snow on Magnificent Hills.

Scroll, mounted and framed, ink and colour on paper.
Inscribed and signed, with three seals of the artist

Lot no.: 1406
Created in: 1969
Size: 68 x 138cm

Lot 148, 3 November 1997, Fine Modern and Contemporary Chinese Paintings, Christie’s Hong Kong.
Estimate: HK$35,000,000 - 45,000,000
Hammer price: HK$35,000,000
Price realized: HK$41,725,000

Huang Yongyu (Born 1924). Autumn Scenery.

Scroll, mounted for framing, ink and colour on paper.

Entitled, inscribed and signed, with one seal of the artist

Lot no.: 1426
Size: 142 x 360cm
Estimate: HK$7,000,000 - 9,000,000
Hammer price: HK$16,000,000
Price realized: HK$19,300,000

Feng Zikai (1898-1975). Pleasures of Life.

Ink and colour on paper/ink on paper

Lot no.: 1330
Album of twelve leaves. Each leaf measures 33.8 x 27 cm.
Estimate: HK$1,500,000 - 2,500,000
Hammer price: HK$9,500,000
Price realized: HK$11,500,000

Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010). Flowing Time.

Scroll, mounted and framed, ink and colour on paper
Inscribed and signed, with one seal of the artist

Lot no.: 1424
Size: 128 x 246
Estimate: HK$5,000,000 - 7,000,000
Hammer price: HK$9,000,000
Price realized: HK$10,900,000


Auction Summary

Auction house: Christie’s Hong Kong
Sale: Fine Chinese Modern Paintings
Auction date: 2017/11/28
Sale total: HK$377,496,250
No. of lot: 359
Sold: 281
Unsold: 78
Average price per lot: HK$1,343,403

Sell-through rate: 78%

(All prices realized have included buyer’s premium unless otherwise specified)