Mon, Nov 27, 2006 - Page 12 News List

Chinese painting sets record price

AGENCIES , HONG KONG

Security guards look after the Chinese oil on canvas painting "Slave and Lion," which was painted by Xu Beihong in 1924. The painting sold for a record HK$53.9 million (6.9 million) during the 20th Century Chinese Art auction at Christie's in Hong Kong yesterday.

PHOTO: AFP

An unknown collector forked out HK$53.8 million (US$6.92 million) yesterday for a 1920s painting by a renowned Chinese artist, setting a new record price for Chinese oil paintings.

The price for Slave and Lion by Xu Beihong (徐悲鴻) far exceeded the pre-auction estimate of HK$32 million after furious bidding by buyers from around the world at the Christie's auction in Hong Kong.

The seller was an unnamed Singapore collector and the auction house declined to provide information about the buyer.

The price exceeded the previous set by Taiwanese artist Chen Chengbo's (陳澄波) oil on canvas Tamsui, which fetched HK$34.8 million at a Sotheby's auction last month.

Another of Xu's oil paintings, Silly Old Man Moves a Mountain, was sold in Beijing five months ago for 30 million yuan (US$3.82 million).

The latest record-breaking paint-ing demonstrated Xu's technique of combining a Western sense of form and Chinese line of drawing.

It was one of the very few works Xu created during his stay in Berlin in the early 1920s, Christie's said.

Slave and Lion, from 1924, depicts a story of a slave and a lion in Europe. The slave, Androcles, who had helped a lion with a thorn in its paw, later ran into the same lion in a cruel human-animal battle staged in a Roman theater. The emperor was moved by the reunion and freed the slave.

The auction yesterday included about 2,500 classical and modern paintings, luxury watches, jewelry and ceramics, most of which came from the region.

Competition was keen for some of the other notable works on offer at the 20th Century Chinese Art Sale. These included Potted Chrysanthemum in a Blue and White Jardiniere by Sanyu (常玉), which almost quadrupled its pre-auction estimate to go for HK$29.2 million after spirited bidding.

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