Sotheby’s has unveiled Chinese-French master Sanyu’s Nu as a top lot for sale in the houses’s live Hong Kong modern art evening sale on October 5, which will take place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center. The work’s official estimate is available upon request with Sotheby’s. It is expected to sell for at least HKD $100 million ($12.9 million).
Dated from the 1950-60s, the present Nu measures at 125 cm by 95.5 cm and depicts a reclined nude figure on a stark white background. The style and composition are nearly identical to Nu (1965), which sold for HKD $198 million ($25.5 million) at Sotheby’s in October 2019. The same season, Five Nudes sold at Christie’s for almost $39 million (1950s), the artist’s current auction record. In July, Sanyu’s Quatre Nus, sold for HKD $258 million ($33 million) during Sotheby’s Hong Kong sales.
The artist developed his nude studies after coming to Paris around the 1920s. The present Nu and the one sold at Sotheby’s in 2019 mark a stylistic change from his early nudes. He began incorporating a stark contoured outline in his figurative works, said to be a feature taken from Chinese calligraphy.
It was first featured publicly at the Lévy collection in Paris in 1965 and later at a survey devoted to Sanyu at the National Museum of History in Taipei in 2001. Along with Nu (1965) the work on offer was featured in the artist’s 2004 survey “Sanyu: l’ecriture du corps” at the Musée Guimet in Paris. Following its showcase at the Musée Guimet in 2004, the work went up for sale at Christie’s Hong Kong from the collection of Taiwanese billionaire Pierre Chen’s Yageo Foundation. It sold for HKD $7.3 million ($947,000), beating its estimate of HKD $4 million-5 million and set the artists’s record at the time. In the sixteen years the work has been held privately in an Asian collection, the estimated price has appreciated more than 1,200%.
The sale will also offer figurative and abstract works by Asian modernists Lin Fengmian, Chu Teh-Chun, Lalan, Chen Ting-Shih, Richard Lin, Hsiao Chin and Lin Huayi, as well as European painters Georges Mathieu and Bernard Buffet.