Zhang Daqian (Chang Dai-chien), detail of Self Portrait with a Tibetung Mastiff. Splashed ink and color on gold paper. 69 1/4 x 37 3/4 inches. Estimate: 48,000,000 - 60,000,000 HKD.

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Sotheby’s April 18 Hong Kong sale, ICONS: Masterpieces from across time and space, features—as the name implies—a vast array of items chosen for their ability to inspire và delight viewers. 


Zhang Daqian (Chang Dai-chien), Self Portrait with a Tiberã Mastiff. Splashed ink và color on gold paper. 69 1/4 x 37 3/4 inches. Estimate: 48,000,000 - 60,000,000 HKD.

The auction houses’ highly-anticipated 2021 Hong Kong Spring Sale Series as a whole is also wide-ranging. From modernist paintings to lớn ancient artworks and from watches to wine, this sale series brings together items “unified in the pursuit of creativity & highest màn chơi of craftsmanship.”

The ICONS sale features a six-foot-tall self-portrait by one of the most prominent Chinese artists of the twentieth century, Zhang Daqian (Chang Dai-chien). Fascinatingly, he is renowned for both his modern impressionist & expressionist paintings and his masterful forgery work.

Born 1899 in the Sichuan Province of Đài Loan Trung Quốc, the artist grew up relatively poor but surrounded by artistically-inclined people và rare opportunities. He received his first commission at age twelve. At eighteen he traveled lớn Kyokhổng lồ khổng lồ learn dyeing techniques. Though he began working very traditionally, he eventually created a style that effortlessly blended the traditions of Chinese painting with the emotional và intuitive sầu aspects of the greathử nghiệm modernist painters.

Though he returned lớn Shangnhị to begin selling paintings, he eventually left Đài Loan Trung Quốc around 1950 lớn escape political turmoil. He lived in Argentimãng cầu, Brazil, and California. He also toured and showed extensively across the world. In 1957, he was invited khổng lồ Paris lớn show his work at Musée Guimet and The Louvre. He met Picasso, who was also showing at the time và who is also featured in this sale. Many regarded the encounter as a meeting of the Eastern & Western artistic masters of the time. Eventually, he did return khổng lồ Taipei, Taiwan, where he lived from 1978 up to lớn his death in 1983.

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The Zhang Daqian painting featured in this sale is Self Portrait with a Tibetan Mastiff, estimated to lớn sell for $6.18 to 7.73 million (HKD 48,000,000 - 60,000,000). Self-portraits in general & this particular composition were revisited often by the artist. This particular rendition remained in the artist’s possession throughout his life.

This particular version features an exquisite background of xanh, impastoed ink splashes that bloom lượt thích clouds across a gold background. The artist has depicted himself with the long beard and robes of a scholar, which is how he fashioned himself in life.


As mentioned, Zhang Daqian also had a career in forgeries. He made copies of mostly Chinese artworks from many different periods of history. He was remarkably good at mimicking the great Chinese masters and seemed to effortlessly work in vastly different styles.

Experts seem khổng lồ agree that these copies were so well-done because the artist had such profound knowledge of mediums. The manner in which different papers would interact with particular inks, brushes, colors, & seals—he seemed to lớn have this down lớn an art. He would sometimes include a postscript within the paintings’ inscriptions detailing the materials used in the recreation. The artist also made forgeries of his own artwork.

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About the Author
Anna Claire Mauney

Anmãng cầu Claire Mauney is Managing Editor for Art & Object. A writer & artist living in North Carolimãng cầu, she is interested in illustration, the 18th-century, và viceregal South America. She is also the co-host of An Obsessive sầu Nature, a podcast about writing and pop culture.