The price for 'The Grand View of Chao Mountain', signed and dated February of the ‘yi si year’ (1968), represents Woolley & Wallis’ 11th seven-figure lot.
Originally known as a guohua (traditionalist) painter, by the 1960s Zhang Da Qian was also renowned as an impressionist. In this painting, he used his famous splash ink and colour technique to create a spectacular spring landscape. From an English collection, it was given by the artist to the owner’s father over afternoon tea sometime between c.1970-80.
The title slip of this 6ft 3in x 3ft 4in (1.91 x 1.01m) scroll painting is further signed by Zeng Ke Duan (1900-76), the calligrapher and University of Hong Kong professor.
He was Da Qian’s closest friend and partner and was often asked to inscribe important works from his oeuvre.
The auction house’s £100,000-150,000 estimate was a self-consciously conservative number for a large work by one of China’s highest-grossing artists. Manchurian Mountains, a painting of similar size from 1969, hammered for HK$141m (£14m) at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in April. In 2016 the same rooms sold a monumental 1982 hanging scroll titled Peach Blossom Spring for a record HK$240m (£24m) to Liu Yiqian and Wang Wei, founders of the Long Museum in Shanghai.
The Grand View of Chao Mountain attracted seven phone lines – one of which manned by specialist Freya Yuan-Richards jumped straight in at £500,000.
The same bidder competed against up to three parties in the saleroom before finally conceding defeat at £2.3m. The winning bidder in the room, who will pay £2.61m after fees, was a dealer from China.
This is the second major post-war Chinese painting the Salisbury auction house has handled in as many sales.
The Northern Girl, a portrait by Chinese contemporary artist Yang Fei Yun (b.1954) of his wife signed and dated September 1987, Yang Fei Yun hua Peng Peng, sold in November for £1.7m on behalf of the family of Body Shop founder Dame Anita Roddick (1942-2007).