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Towering Pine and Cypress with its four-character couplet in seal script was painted as a birthday present in 1946 for the former Chinese Nationalist party leader, Chiang Kai-Shek. The general fled to Taiwan just a few years later after his defeat by the Communist army.

Qi Baishi was a self-taught artist and son of a peasant. His paintings routinely command premium sums at auctions internationally. This is thought to be Qi's largest work at 8ft 8in x 3ft 3in (2.66m x 1m).

The scroll was one of the highlights from Guardian's spring auction series and is the second highest price for a work of art in China after an 11th century scroll by Huang Tingjian at Beijing's Poly International, which made a premium-inclusive RMB436.8m in 2009.

China Guardian's buyer's premium is 15%