THERE may be a long-established tradition of collecting Chinese ceramics and works of art in the West, but the highly specialist knowledge of the language and culture required to appreciate Chinese painting from anything more than a decorative point of view means most serious collectors and dealers are based in the Far East.
However, the chance to secure the good quality, privately sourced 18th century scroll (shown right) in reasonable condition (despite a fold line) for its £400-600 estimate at Sotheby’s Olympia (20/12% buyer’s premium) Chinese and Japanese Works of Art sale on April 7 encouraged a broad mixture of Asian, US and UK buyers to contest the entry on the telephone and in the room.
The painting alluded to the famous literary gathering of scholars in the Tao Li gardens recounted in a Tang dynasty poem by the celebrated eighth century poet Li Bai. Although not a masterpiece, the brushwork was accomplished and the colours strong. Interested UK buyers were outbid at an early stage, leaving an Asian bidder and a US dealer to battle it out on the telephone for ownership. It sold to the latter at £8000.
Overall, buyers were found for 65 per cent of this 340-lot outing that realised a hammer total of £306,950.
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