A Rediscovered Qian Weicheng's Imperial Masterpiece Fetches HK$146m at Sotheby’s

Coming to the last day of its spring sales in Hong Kong, Sotheby’s still cannot let its guard down because a series of important sales offering an array of exquisite Chinese art are scheduled to be held today, five in a row in the morning alone.

At 10 a.m., a huge throng had gather in the saleroom waiting for the sales to begin, including art collectors, dealers, journalists and onlookers. The morning kicked off with 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. The single-lot sale made an impressive start with a prolonged bidding lasted 40 minutes.

Painted by the renowned Imperial court painter Qian Weicheng, Ten Auspicious Landscapes of Taishan inscribed with the ten poems written by the Emperor Qianlong carried an estimate of HK$50m-70m (US$6.41m-8.97m).

Peter Song, Specialist of Chinese Works of Art

The bidding started at HK$35m and slowly went up with both bidders in the room and telephone bidders showing keen interest. After the price rose to HK$80m, there were mainly two telephone bidders, respectively represented by Nicolas Chow, Chairman of Sotheby’s Asia, and Peter Song, Specialist of Chinese Works of Art, staying in the contest. The price was further pushed up to HK$85m, a bid made by Nicolas Chow, which deterred Peter’s client at this point.

Nicolas Chow, Chairman of Sotheby's Asia

Just when everyone in room thought the bidding was going to end, a gentleman in the room, who had left the bidding battle earlier, re-entered the contest. Running head to head, both bidders made alternate bids one after one. The price crossed the threshold of HK$100m and continued to soar.

A gentleman sitting in the middle of the room won the masterpiece

The masterpiece was at last hammered down for HK$128.5m, won by the gentleman in the room after a 40-minutue competition with over 110 bid increments. It sold for HK$146,794,000 with premium included.

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 (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. 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.

Lot information

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

Lot no.: 3301
Size: 33.7 x 458cm
Signed Qian Weicheng and with two seals of the artist.
with ten poems by the Qianlong Emperor, dated jiawu, corresponding to 1774, and each with one to two seals of his
with nine additional seals of the Qianlong Emperor including Shiqu baoji ('The Precious Collection of the Stone Canal Pavilion') and two seals of the Xuantong Emperor.

  • Qing Imperial Court Collection.
  • Collection of Henry Puyi (1906-1967), last emperor of China.
  • Private European collection, acquired by the grandfather of
  • the present owner and thence by family descent.

Estimate: HK$50,000,000 - 70,000,000 (US$6,410,000 - 8,970,000)
Hammer price: HK$128,500,000 (US$16,370,900)
Price realized: HK$146,794,000


Auction summary
Auction house: Sotheby’s Hong Kong
A Rediscovered Imperial Heirloom – Ten Auspicious Landscapes of Taishan by Qian Weicheng
Sale date: 2018/04/03
Lots offered: 1
Sale total: