SHANGHAI – Claude Monet’s painting “La chapelle de Notre-Dame-de-Grâce, Honfleur” (The Chapel of Our Lady of Grace at Honfleur), dating back to 1864, was sold for 20.7 million yuan ($3.2 million) becoming the most expensive painting to be auctioned off in China.
According to official news agency Xinhua, this was the most expensive item sold during the weekend by Xiling Yinshe Auction Company in the commercial hub of Hangzhou, capital of the eastern province of Zhejiang.
The French impressionist’s painting – a very modern composition, showing a grove, and part of the tower and porch at the chapel entrance on a grey Normandy day – surpassed recent big auctions in China in terms of price.
In recent years, the most profitable sale of a western painting in China was a work on ceramic by Spanish cubist Pablo Ruiz Picasso (1881-1973), “Grand vase aux danseurs” (Large vase with dancers) – a white terracotta vase painted by the Malaga artist in 1950, sold by Christie’s Chinese subsidiary for 3.03 million yuan ($488,511) in April.
During the weekend, a total of 12 works went under the hammer, which Xinhua termed “China’s first sale of western masterpieces,” because it was organized by a Chinese auction house as opposed to a foreign one such as Christie’s.
The 12 items, including a still life created by Italian Giorgio Morandi ($1.4 million) and “Deux vaches dans le pré” (Two cows in the meadow) by French post-impressionist Paul Gauguin in 1884, fetched a total of 52.8 million yuan ($8.1 million).
“Deux vaches dans le pré” raked in 6.67 million yuan ($1.03 million), more than double the final bid for the same work at Christie’s, New York in 2013.
The Xiling Yinshe autumn auction has 32 sessions wherein 4,600 items are up for sale, including paintings, sculptures, old Chinese calligraphy, traditional ink pots, stamps, jade sculptures, coins, table and wall clocks and wrist watches.