Ancient painting's sale sets record

Baku, December 6, AZERTAC

Five Drunken Kings on Horses, a Chinese classical painting of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), sold for 303.6 million yuan (US$44 million) at a Beijing auction on Sunday night, a record high for a Chinese painting so far this year, according to

The color painting drew a packed room of bidders at Beijing Poly Auction's sale of ancient Chinese paintings and calligraphy. The bidding started at 68 million yuan and lasted about 40 minutes.

Zhao Xu, Poly Auction's executive director, said after the sale that the transaction price was far beyond expectations, given that the market for Chinese art has been in a slump over the past three years.

The painting was created by Ren Renfa (1255-1327), a high-ranking official in charge of water conservancy in the Mongol-ruled court. In his spare time, he achieved prominence as a painter of horses and grooms.

Zhao said that Ren's painting deserves a high price because his works are quite rare - about 20 pieces in total, many of which are in the collections of art museums around the world, making the auctioned one a rare piece available to private collectors.

The painting, a 2-meter-long hand scroll, depicts Li Longji, then the King of Linzi before ascending the throne as the seventh emperor of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and his four brothers returning from a feast.

The most expensive classical Chinese ink art sold at auction is Di Zhu Ming, a calligraphic hand scroll by Song Dynasty master Huang Tingjian that fetched 436.8 million yuan in Beijing in 2010.

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