Some of the earliest photographs of China, including the first photographic views of Beijing (Peking) and Dagu (Taku) will be offered on sale on May 14th at Sotheby’s London auction. Exceptional rare images taken by photographer Felice Beato in 1860, are thought to be among the first-ever photos of China.
Beato’s set of 18 original albumen photographs from 1860, including the only known photograph of the old Imperial Summer Palace before it was destroyed by fire by British troops in 1860 are expected to fetch £200,000 ($310,000) at Sotheby’s Travel, Atlases, Maps & Natural History sale next month.
This was the first panoramic photograph of the area ever taken, revealing the interior of Beijing and the Forbidden City beyond. This image printed on fine photographic paper, is 5ft 5ins wide and 8ins tall.
Other photos in the collection feature Pehtang, North Taku Fort, tombs near Peking and the Imperial Winter Palace. Beato’s images of the historical buildings and landmarks are among the only ones in existence.
Sotheby’s auction will also include an album of some of the earliest photographs of Taiwan taken by John Thomson (one of the most important photographers working in China in nineteenth century) in 1871. Estimated at £70,000 – £100,000 ($109,000 – 155,000), it also includes rare views of Swatow (now Shantou in Guangdong province) and Amoy (Xiamen).
A triptych oil painting by Chinese artist Zhang Xiaogang sold for $10.1 million
Auction giant Sotheby’s sold $447 million worth of Asian art, wine, watches and jewellery in its Asian spring sales. The centrepiece of auction in Hong Kong was an early triptych oil painting, Forever Lasting Love by renowned Chinese artist Zhang Xiaogang sold for $10.1 million. Sotheby’s said it was a record auction price for a contemporary artwork from China.
Zhang’s early 1988 work, oil painting of figures in an arid landscape suffused with mystical symbols fetched HK$79 million with fees, more than double a hammer-price estimate of as much as HK$30 million, with the anonymous winning bid taken by telephone from Miety Heiden of Sotheby’s, New York. It was the top lot of 105 offered by Guy Ullens, founder of Beijing’s largest private art museum, with a $16.7 million total estimate. The price was higher than the $9.5 million paid for a Zeng Fanzhi canvas in 2008 and a series of massive gunpowder works by Cai Guoqiang that fetched a similar price in 2007.