An ancient Chinese painting has been sold for almost US$60 million (HK$469.4 million).
The nearly 1,000-year-old ink painting by Su Shi fetched US$59.5 million at an auction in Hong Kong, auction house Christie’s said on Monday.
Christie’s has described the Song dynasty (960-1279) artwork as “one of the world’s rarest Chinese paintings”.
Entitled Wood and Rock, the ink-on-paper handscroll depicts a dragon-like old tree with withered branches, and a sharp rock resting at its root.
The 185cm-long scroll also shows calligraphy and the poems of four important literati of the 11th century in China, as well as showing the seals, or stamps, of 41 collectors – people who have previously owned the scroll.
The painting was the most expensive item ever sold in Christie’s Asia.
Su Shi, also known as Su Dongpo, is one of the most important cultural figures in Chinese history. He was an esteemed scholar, poet, writer, painter, calligrapher, and statesman.
“The number of the works securely attributed to him are very few, probably only two or three. They are extremely rare,” Jonathan Stone, deputy chairman for Christie’s Asian art department, said.
In 2010, Dizhuming, a Chinese calligraphy scroll by Huang Tingjian – Su Shi’s student – sold for US$64 million at Poly Auction in Beijing. In recent years, Asian buyers have flocked to Hong Kong’s auction houses, with sales of diamonds, paintings, and ancient ceramics shattering world records.
A 10-metre-long triptych entitled Juin-Octobre 1985 by Zao Wou-Ki – one of the 20th century’s most prominent Chinese painters – fetched US$65 million at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in September. A triptych is a piece of art made of three paintings connected to each other.