Chinese scroll painting White Birches
Duke's saleroom co-ordinator Gemma Meek with Chinese artist Wu Guanzhong’s (1919-2010) 'White Birches on Mount Chang Bai' (Zhangbai). The scroll sold at auction on May 18.

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The painting had seals suggesting it had been painted in the 1980s. It had been purchased by the owner while living in Hong Kong at a Christie’s ’Swire’ sale in October 1990.

This painting is said to be similar in terms of size and composition to White Birch (1986) which was exhibited as no 11 in Wu Guanzhong - a 20th Century Chinese Painter at the British Museum in 1992. The lot was published in The Art of Wu Guanzhong (1987). 

Wu Guanzhong is regarded among the greatest Chinese artists of the 20th century and his paintings have hit stratospheric levels at auctions in Mainland China. However, this 4ft 8in x 2ft 3in (1.36m x 67cm) composition sold at the lower end of expectations.

From the same source, Wu Guanzhong’s painting of a water village in the Jiangnan area also sold on its low estimate of £300,000. The signed and dated 1989 painting measures 67.5cm x 136cm. The auctioneer said it is similar to A neighbourhood in the Jiangnan area (1987) which was also displayed at the same British Museum exhibition in 1992.