Qian Weicheng's Imperial Masterpiece Re-Emerges After a Hundred Years

In our previous articles, we introduced two highlights, a Pink-Ground Falangcai Bowl from the Kangxi period and two sets of Leporello Albums of Illuminated Wisdom Sutra, which will be offered the coming spring sales at Sotheby's Hong Kong.

On top of that, a rediscovered Imperial heirloom that once recorded in Shiqu Baoji, the famous catalogue ordered by the Qianlong emperor so as to systematically organize court objects. Painted by the renowned Imperial court painter Qian Weicheng, Ten Auspicious Landscapes of Taishan inscribed with the ten poems written by the Emperor Qianlong carries an estimate of HK$50m-70m (US$6.41m-8.97m).

Qian Weicheng (1720-1772), the highest-ranking candidate in the official examinations, was a favourite of the Qianlong Emperor. In over twenty years' service at court, Qian Weicheng produced more than 275 paintings for the emperor.

He was always selected to accompany the Emperor on official grand Southern Inspection tours, during which the Emperor would don the attire of a commoner and conceal his imperial identity.  

Hence, the piece is a vessel of nuanced political statement as it asserts the Qianlong Emperor's ownership and reign over the vast wealth of lands of China. In particular, the ten poems written by the Emperor inscribed on the scrolls records his appreciation of the landscapes of Taishan, which he surveyed on tour on multiple occasions during his lifetime, and commemorates Qian Weicheng.

The present scroll was recorded in The Sequel to the Previous Collection of the Stone Canal Pavilion (also known as The Sequel to Shiqu Baoji), and was originally kept in the Ningshou Gong of the Forbidden City. It was then bequeathed by the last Emperor Pu Yi to his younger brother Pu Jie in the early 1920s, in an attempt to curb the rampant theft of Palace treasures by court eunuchs.

Qian Weicheng. Ten Auspicious Landscapes of Taishan.
Ink and colour on paper, handscroll.

Auction house: Sotheby's Hong Kong
Size: 33.7 x 458cm
Estimate: HK$50,000,000 - 70,000,000 (US$6,410,000 - 8,970,000)