Bidders at Chiswick Auctions’ Fine Chinese Paintings sale competed on the phone and in the room, starting with a £9000 bid, jumping by increments of £5000 and £10,000.
The winning bid for the scroll, which Lazarus Halstead, head of Asian Art, billed as “a work of art and an historical document” ahead of the sale, was made on the phone.
The handscroll features 98 inscriptions by various artists, scholars and politicians, spanning 127 years.
To the right of the painting is a frontispiece and an older title slip mounted into the handscroll. To the left are colophons and dedications by the notable figures from across the Qing Dynasty, the first from 1821 and the last 1948.
The scroll was formerly owned by the well-known Shanghai collector, Gao Shixian (1878 – 1952), whose name and seal appears on the title slip.
It was acquired by the father of the consignor in Shanghai in 1948 and was gifted to her on her wedding day in 1974 in Hong Kong.
At Asian Art in London's gala at the British Museum last week, the Xu Naigu handscroll won a commendation for Chiswick Auctions in the auctioneer category of the 10-day event’s awards.
The numerous inscriptions on the scroll are generally dated and sometimes a location is written, allowing the art work’s movement to be traced through space and time.
Halstead said that Chinese paintings are “particularly interesting, as provenance can be ‘written into’ a work in the form of seals and colophons by known collectors who have owned an important work since its creation”.