Zhang Daqian's Enormous Blue-Green Landscape Sold for US$6.5m

Sotheby’s New York held an evening sale dedicated to The Chew Family Collection of Chinese Paintings & Calligraphy. The offerings included rare works from one of China’s foremost modern painters, Zhang Daqian, who had formed a close friendship with two generations of the Chew family.  

The Chew Family managed a number of businesses in import, export and Chinese antiquities, including the China Art Center in Carmel. Zhang Daqian emigrated to the United States in 1967, living first in Carmel and later in Monterey. There, he befriended the Chew Family, staying at the Dolores Lodge whenever he travelled to Carmel.

Zhang Daqian and Thomas Chew

The top lot was a monumental horizontal scroll, Water and Sky Gazing After Rain in Splashed Color, painted by Zhang in 1968. It has generous amounts of azurite and malachite concentrated towards the right, and beneath them a layer of dark ink. 

Zhang Daqian demonstrating how to paint landscape at the Dolores Lodge

The present lot was gifted by Zhang Daqian to the Chews during his visits. Estimated at US$1.2m-1.8m, the painting attracted strong interest from buyers and sold for US$6.5m, far exceeding its pre-sale estimate.

Zhang Ling’s Scholar Gazing at Farmlands From a Pavilion realized the second highest price at the sale for US$615,000, three times its pre-sale estimate of US$160,000-220,000. Although little direct information about Zhang Lin (active 1470-1510). g has survived, records since the Ming dynasty agree on his close relationship with Tang Yin, a renowned Chinese painter and poet in the Ming dynasty. The two also evidently had similar styles in painting and calligraphy.

Ma Shouzhen (1548-1604)’s Orchid, Bamboo, and Lingzhi, another highlight of the sale, sold for US$495,000, outstripping its estimate of US$100,000 - 150,000. Ma Shouzhen, also known by her pen name Xianglan (meaning 'Orchid of the Xiang River'), was a Chinese courtesan and artist born in Nanjing during the late Ming dynasty period. She was acclaimed for her delicate brush works of landscapes, orchids, and bamboo imagery combined with calligraphy.



Top three lots

Zhang Daqian (1899-1983). Water and Sky Gazing After Rain in Splashed Color

Lot no.: 1135
Size: 100.5 x 192.3cm
Estimate: US$1,200,000 - 1,800,000
Price realized: US$6,550,400

Zhang Ling (Active 1470-1510). Scholar Gazing at Farmlands From a Pavilion

Lot no.: 1119
Size: 145.7 x 70.4 cm
Estimate: US$160,000 - 220,000
Price realized: US$615,000


Ma Shouzhen (1548-1604). Orchid, Bamboo, and Lingzhi

Lot no.: 1108
Size: 34 x 369.4 cm
Estimate: US$100,000 - 150,000
Price realized: US$495,000

Auction summary

Auction house: Sotheby’s New York
Sale: The Chew Family Collection of Chinese Paintings & Calligraphy
Lots offered: 76
Sold: 58
Unsold: 18
Sold by lot: 76%
Sale total: US$13,281,150