Tiny Watercolour By Modern Chinese Master Triples Estimates At Bonhams

A small watercolour by one of the most celebrated modern Chinese masters has more than tripled its top-end estimate, fetching $170,800 IBP at Bonhams’ Asian Art sale in Sydney.

Four Apples by Qi Baishi, painted in 1947, attracted frenzied bidding from collectors on the phone, internet and on-site at the Woollahra auction venue, speeding past its upper estimate of $55,000.

A local collector in the room was successful in securing the 33x33cm work against rivals from New York, mainland China and Malaysia.

Bonhams’ Asian Art specialist Yvett Klein said she was thrilled with the result, which she believes is the highest price per square centimetre ever paid for a work by Qi Baishi.

“It’s wonderful to achieve such a high price for this work in Australia, higher than what has recently been achieved in Hong Kong, when the global economy has weakened,” she said.

Another strong result in the sale was a 17th-century imperial ‘dragon bowl’ from a New South Wales collector which made $30,500 IBP off an estimate of $4,000-6,000.

The dragon bowl price follows two record-breaking results last year for 17th-century imperial Chinese ceramics, when Bonhams sold a ‘dragon box’ for $146,400 and a ‘wucai box’ for $152,500.

Overall the sale made $462, 636 IBP, with 64% sold by lot and 111% by value.




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