11th Century ink painting by the Chinese Da Vinci sells for unreal figure

An 11th Century ink-painting by the Chinese ‘Da Vinci’ has sold for a staggering £46.5 MILLION.

Wood and Rock, which headlined Christie’s Hong Kong Autumn Sale, is the work of Su Shi, the pre-eminent scholar of the Song Dynasty.

Su Shi lived from 1037 until 1101 and was an esteemed scholar, writer, poet, painter, calligrapher and statesman – the Leonardo Da Vinci of his time.

The polymath’s work of art is an ink-on-paper scroll, which depicts withered tree branches standing dignified alongside a curiously-shaped rock which resembles, according to one critic, giant creatures and dragons appearing and disappearing from stormy seas.

The painting is part of an extended scroll which includes calligraphy by Mi Fu – a
renowned painter and calligrapher and a contemporary of Su Shi.

Both Su Shi and Mi Fu are amongst the four most celebrated calligraphy masters of the Song period.

The Wood and Rock painting measures 26.3 x 50cm, while the overall handscroll is 27.2 x 543cm.

Christie’s gave the scroll a guide price of around £40 million, but it ended up selling for £46.5 million – making it the most expensive item ever sold by the auction house in Asia.

Jonathan Stone, Co-Chairman Asian Art, Deputy Chairman Asia, said: “Christie’s was honoured to be entrusted with the sale of such a culturally significant work, with the price achieved establishing its position amongst the most important works in Chinese history.”

Only a tiny number of paintings by Su Shi exist. With the scroll’s rarity and the artist’s importance, it is set to be one of the most important works of art ever to come to auction.

Su Shi is to the Chinese tradition of literature and visual arts what Leonardo da Vinci is to the European tradition of painting and invention, according to experts at Christie’s.

The auction house previously described the scroll as “one of the most important Chinese artworks ever offered at auction”.

by Adrian Hearn

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