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To Be Offered in a Dedicated Single Lot Evening Sale

The Crowning Highlight of Christie’s Season of Masterpieces

Hong Kong – WEBWIRE
SANYU (CHANG YU, 1895-1966)
signed in Chinese and signed ‘SANYU’ (lower right)
73.8 x 50.2 cm. (29 x 19 3/4 in.) Painted in 1930s-1940s, HK$120,000,000 – 180,000,000 / US$16,000,000 – 23,000,000
SANYU (CHANG YU, 1895-1966) Goldfish signed in Chinese and signed ‘SANYU’ (lower right) 73.8 x 50.2 cm. (29 x 19 3/4 in.) Painted in 1930s-1940s, HK$120,000,000 – 180,000,000 / US$16,000,000 – 23,000,000

This December, Christie’s is honoured to unveil Sanyu’s Goldfish as a major masterpiece of the autumn season. This painting is the first and only work by Sanyu to depict eight goldfish in such exquisite detail as the central subject of the composition, making the work completely unique and without compare within the context of the artist’s oeuvre. An iconic painting by one of the most important artists of the 20th century, Goldfish will be presented as the focus of a stand-alone, single lot evening auction immediately following the Modern and Contemporary Art Evening Sale on 2 December.

Depicting eight goldfish – a symbol of luck, hope, and prosperity – Goldfish is entirely unique in the context of Sanyu’s oeuvre. According to the first and second volumes of the artist’s catalogue raisonné, Sanyu only created 11 oil paintings in his lifetime that include the subject of fish, four of which currently reside in the permanent collection of the National Museum of History in Taipei. Among them, Goldfish is the only work that presents the fish in a still-life format, with the cylindrical fish bowl resting upon a tabletop decorated with auspicious symbols, a setting more commonly seen in Sanyu’s paintings of flowers and indoor scenes.

Painted during the 1930s–1940s, Goldfish is a spectacular example of Sanyu’s avant-garde artistic vision, demonstrating how he blended, deconstructed, and combined disparate artistic styles and aesthetics in his work. His application of ink-and-brush style lines, the simple but refined use of colour, and tactical spatial handling reflect his understanding and exploration of modern Western art, while simultaneously expressing the poetic aesthetic elements of the East.

The painting is endowed with a truly illustrious provenance, having been exhibited across the globe and included in numerous publications about Sanyu. Goldfish formerly resided in the Robert Frank Collection, collected by one of the most influential photographers of the 20th century who was also an intimate friend of Sanyu’s.

This July, Christie’s offered White Chrysanthemum in a Blue and White Jardiniere at auction, which set a new record for any still-life painting by Sanyu. In 2019, Sanyu’s Five Nudes was sold at Christie’s for HK$303,984,992, which remains the current world record for the artist. This season, as the market-leader with the greatest expertise in works by Sanyu, Christie’s is delighted to offer a masterpiece featuring an animal subject, one of the most magnificent paintings ever created by the artist.


Sanyu Auction Records Set By Christie’s:

- World Auction Record for Sanyu

Five Nudes

November 2019

Sold for HK$303,984,992 / US$39,045,331

World Auction Record For a Still Life by Sanyu

White Chrysanthemum in a Blue and White Jardiniere

July 2020

Sold for HK$191,620,000 / US$24,844,389

Preview Touring:


Date & Time: 7 – 8 November

Location: Grand Space, Marriott Taipei, 3F, No. 199, Lequn 2nd Road, ZhongShan District, Taipei

Final Preview and Auction at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre:

Preview: 27 November – 2 December


Date & Time: 2 December 2020, 8pm

Location: Hall 3C, Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, No. 1 Harbour Road, Wanchai, Hong Kong

About Christie’s

Christie’s, the world’s leading art business, had auction sales in 2019 that totalled £4.5 billion / $5.8 billion. Christie’s is a name and place that speaks of extraordinary art, unparalleled service and international expertise. Christie’s offers around 350 auctions annually in over 80 categories, including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewellery, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more. Prices range from $200 to over $100 million. Christie’s also has a long and successful history conducting private sales for its clients in all categories, with emphasis on Post-War & Contemporary, Impressionist & Modern, Old Masters and Jewellery.

Alongside regular sales online, Christie’s has a global presence in 46 countries, with 10 salerooms around the world including in London, New York, Paris, Geneva, Milan, Amsterdam, Dubai, Zürich, Hong Kong, and Shanghai.

*Please note when quoting estimates above that other fees will apply in addition to the hammer price - see Section D of the Conditions of Sale at the back of the sale catalogue.

*Estimates do not include buyer’s premium. Sales totals are hammer price plus buyer’s premium and are reported net of applicable fees.


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