20th century Chinese masterpieces to see $27.1m at Sotheby's

Sotheby's has announced a sale of 20th century Chinese masterpieces to mark its 40th anniversary in Asia.

Zao Wou-Ki triptych
Zao Wou-Ki's 15.1.82, one of just 17 triptychs in the artist's oeuvre

The auction house will hold the Hong Kong 40th Anniversary Evening Sale on October 5, featuring 20th century Chinese art, contemporary Asian art and modern and contemporary southeast Asian art.

The highlight of the auction will be a group of seven works from a distinguished private collection, which are valued at a combined $27.1m.

Among those seven are three of Zao Wou-Ki's (1920-2013) most important large-scale artworks from the 1960s to 1990s, which will be seen at auction for the first time. They are sure to see intense bidding; Sotheby's broke the record for the artist's work when 10.1.68 sold for $88.4m 2011.

15.1.82, a triptych, holds the highest estimate of Zao's works in the present sale, valued at $8.7m-11.5m. Though the artist created over 1,000 works during his lifetime, there are only 17 large-scale triptychs known, making this an exciting prospect for collectors.

Also starring will be Chinese-French painter Sanyu's (1901-1966) Goldfish, which is valued at $6.4m-9m.

Sanyu Goldfish painting
Sanyu's Goldfish was formerly in the collection of American photographer Robert Frank, who was a close friend of the artist

The "exquisite and very rare" work is one of three masterpieces from the highly respected artist featuring in the sale, each of which was completed in the 1930s. Fruits is valued at $2.3m-3.2m, while Virgin Mary and the Infant Jesus carries a $1.9m-2.6m estimate.

Wu Guanzhong Mountain Lu
Wu Guanzhong's Mountain Lu is prized for its unusual vantage point, offering a glimpse of the mountains through the branches of four trees

Completing the offerings is Wu Guanzhong's (1919-2010) Mountain Lu, a 1974 piece that sees a "natural convergence of western painting techniques with Chinese aesthetics". It is expected to see $1.3m-2.6m.

Christie's has recently announced the schedule for its Asian Art Week in New York in September, which will see all of the major auction houses in attendance.

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