Hong Kong – On 28 November, Christie’s Hong Kong is elated and excited to present the auction debut of Sanyu’s pioneering masterpiece, Nude on Tapestry — the first major nude painting by the artist, as a leading highlight of the 20th/21st Century Art Evening Sale. Painted almost a century ago in Paris and residing in private hands to this day, the sale will mark the first time the painting has appeared in Asia. An exceptionally rare work and one of Sanyu’s earliest and finest reclining nudes of this composition, Nude on Tapestry has an outstanding provenance and comes directly from the prestigious Dreyfus Collection. As the auction market leader for Sanyu masterpieces, this sale continues Christie’s track record of presenting the artist’s most iconic and celebrated themes.
· Fresh-to-Market with Preeminent Provenance: Currently sitting in the Dreyfus Collection in Paris, Nude on Tapestry was originally acquired by the renowned dealer Henri-Pierre Roché directly from the artist in the 1930s, before entering the hands of Jean-Claude Riedel, another important Parisian dealer and collector, and a major proponent of Sanyu’s works. This momentous sale at Christie’s Hong Kong will mark the painting’s auction debut.
· The Front Cover of Sanyu’s Catalogue Raisonné (Volume 1): Indicative of the work’s significance, Nude on Tapestry was selected as the front cover image for Sanyu’s catalogue raisonné (volume 1), arguably the most historically important publication on the artist.
· A Rare Reclining Nude from Sanyu’s Early Period: Within Sanyu’s oeuvre, among the approximately 300 paintings he made during his lifetime, only 13 oil paintings from the 1930s depict a reclining nude, and only 5 of those present a reclining nude from the back. This work is arguably the finest among those.
· Featuring the Muse of the Century in Paris, Kiki de Montparnasse (Alice Prin): Painted during Les Années folles (‘the Roaring Twenties’) in Paris, the subject of Nude on Tapestry is the famed Kiki de Montparnasse, who was an iconic muse of many celebrated artists including Amedeo Modigliani, Tsuguharu Foujita, Moïse Kisling, Man Ray, and Alexander Calder.
Evelyn Lin, Deputy Chairman, Christie’s Asia Pacific and Co-Head of the 20th and 21st Century Art Department, Asia Pacific commented: “It is with great honour that Christie’s Hong Kong presents the auction debut of Sanyu’s first major nude painting, Nude on Tapestry, as a leading masterpiece of our Evening Sale curation. Sanyu’s artistic perspective traversed the boundaries of East and West, culminating in an oeuvre of universal appeal. His famed nudes, in particular, enthral art lovers all over the world. With a distinguished provenance including the eminent Dreyfus Collection, this is an exquisite painting of exceptional quality and art historical importance. We are honoured to have stewarded many of Sanyu’s masterpieces through our Hong Kong saleroom, and Nude on Tapestry continues this trajectory, undoubtedly exciting collectors in the region and beyond.”
Eric Chang, Deputy Chairman, Christie’s Asia Pacific and Chairman of the 20th and 21st Century Art Department, Asia Pacific commented: “Painting in chorus with the greatest European modernists of the 20th Century, Sanyu simultaneously imbued his art with traditions derived from Chinese calligraphy — this resulted in a unique aesthetic, beautifully embodied in the magnificent work, Nude on Tapestry. This is a masterpiece that is deeply embedded in Parisian cultural history, and yet is undeniably intertwined with Eastern philosophies. With the 60th anniversary of China-France diplomatic relations approaching, it feels especially apt to debut Nude on Tapestry in Hong Kong this autumn. Journeying the work from Paris to Hong Kong not only recognises its cross-cultural significance, but also provides a remarkable opportunity for collectors and enthusiasts to experience this masterpiece for the first time in Asia.”