Both had been given to him as gifts by senior Chinese officials during the Second World War.
Estimated at £20,000-30,000 at the November 23 sale but sold at £275,000 was a 4ft 4in x 15in (1.3m x 38cm) ink and colour on paper scene of a horse by Xu Beihong (1895-1953) dated dingchou year (1937).
It had two artist’s seals plus a dedication to Yu Dawei (1897-1993), a government minister who played a key role in the modernisation of the army of the Republic of China. Another inscription dated May 5, 1943, was from Yu himself giving the painting to Wavell as a 60th birthday present.
A 3ft 7in x 2ft (1.08m x 60cm) scroll painting of mandarin ducks in a lotus pond by Chen Zhifo (1895-1963) signed with two seals and dated 1943 had been given to Wavell by He Yingqin (1890-1987), a politician and senior general of the National Revolutionary Army.
Estimated at £50,000-80,000, it sold for £225,000.
Tea and trade
A welcome late entry to the Asian Art sale at Chiswick Auctions (25/12% buyer’s premium) in west London on November 18 was a series of 24 Qing paintings depicting tea production in China.
While similar works were not uncommon in the 19th century, this set was exceptionally early, detailed and extensive.
They also had an exceptional provenance. They were acquired during Lord Macartney’s diplomatic trade mission to China in 1792-94 and passed through four generations of the British nobility at Crewe Hall.
One of the paintings was lost in the 1980s (when exhibited in 1997 as part of the A Tale of Three Cities: Canton, Shanghai and Hong Kong show only 23 were shown) but it has since been rediscovered and a legal agreement reached to reunite it with the others.
They were estimated to fetch £30,000-50,000 but bidding continued to £140,000.