Ten Landscapes of Taishan, on a scroll by Qian Weicheng, will be auctioned at Sotheby’s Hong Kong in April. The Qing Dynasty scroll bears the title Ten Auspicious Landscapes of Taishan and had been lost from public space for decades. Qian Weicheng was a a poet and court painter of the Qianlong Emperor.
The scroll is divided in ten sections with an equal amount of poems written by the Quianlong Emperor and ten landscapes by Qian Weicheng, representing Mount Tiantai, also known as Tiantai Shan, in Zhejiang province. It measures 33.7x458cm and each landscape is accompanied by a text written by Qian Weicheng, describing the natural beauty of the site and offering information on the legends and history associated with it.
Qian Wicheng (1720-1772) was an official of the State and a gifted person. His artistic tendencies, which were evident at a very young age, were accompanied with a logical and impartal approach, along with moral standards, which impressed the emperor. He was brought into imperial favour and after he died at a young age, due to ill health, he was granted the posthumous name of Wenmin (which means “cultivated”).
The handscroll had been recorded in the Sequel to the Precious Collection of the Stone Canal Pavilion and originally kept in the Ningshou Gong of the Forbidden City. In the 1920s, though, emperor Pu Yi took many artworks, including the Ten Landscapes, out of the palace and had them sent to his brother Pu Jie, who kept them in their father’s house in Beijing. Then, they were sent to the Tianjin British Concession. Various artworks were consequently sold to private collectors until the Communist Party came to power in the late 1940s. That’s when the State Administration of Cultural Heritage reclaimed thousands of artworks from dealers and people who were deemed enemies of the state, the handscroll being one of them. But when the artworks were put back in the Palace Museum of the Forbidden City, the handscroll was not among them. It had disappeared into the private market.
Now, that it has come to light, it will be auctioned by Sotheby’s Hong Kong office, with a pre-sale estimate of US$ 6,400,000-8,960,000. Hopefully it will not vanish in some private collection once more.