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Zhang Daqian (Chinese, 1899-1983)


Birth Place: Neijiang, China


Zhang Daqian Painting Values

Who was painter Zhang Daqian?

Zhang Daqian was a Chinese artist, painter, and renowned art forger. He is perhaps best known for his traditionalist paintings of the first half of his career, as well as his expressionist and impressionist paintings from the second half of his life. Daqian was known during his lifetime as an expert forger of some of the other Chinese masters. His dedication to the materials he used, his skills in mimicry, and his use of inscriptions made him an in-demand forger during his lifetime. This may seem at odds with his great career as an original artist, but Daqian was able to live two lives as an artist.

His forgeries were purchased by nearly every major art museum in the United States. This would not be considered a negative thing in China as it is in Western culture. One famous forgery was The Riverbank (date unknown) which was sold to the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, and which still resides in their museum. Daqian’s original art was also extremely in-demand during his lifetime. He had exhibitions at The Louvre and Musee Gulmet and was part of a touring contemporary art exhibition put on by UNESCO which showed his work in Paris, London, Prague, and Geneva.

What kind of art did Zhang Daqian make?

Zhang Daqian was a painter who covered several disciplines including traditional Chinese art, impressionism, and expressionism. He experimented in murals, famously mimicking the art found in Buddhist wall paintings in the Mogao and Yulin caves. Part of Daqian’s change in style later in life was due to his failing health. His poor eyesight pushed him to develop a new style - pocai - which involved splashes of color and elements of abstract expressionism applied to traditional Chinese styles of painting. Part of Daqian’s great genius was his ability to mimic, adapt, and not hold fast to any one ideology or aesthetic. Instead, Daqian used several different mediums, styles, and techniques to create paintings that are truly one of a kind -- a post-modern mashup that reveals the artist’s true genius.

How did painter Zhang Daqian get started?

Zhang Daqian was born in 1899 in the Sichuan Province of China. As a youth, his parents struggled for work but encouraged his artistic pursuits. His very first commission came at the tender age of 12 when a fortune-teller asked the young artist to paint her a new set of tarot cards. Later, when Daqian was 17 he was captured by a group of bandits. The chief of the bandits was so impressed with Daqian’s penmanship that he made the 17-year-old his personal secretary. Later, in his 20s, he would move to Kyoto to try his hand at different textile dyeing techniques. After several false-starts in business, he’d eventually return to Shanghai and begin his career as a successful painter.

How much are Zhang Daqian paintings worth?

Zhang Daqian is one of the great Chinese artists, his paintings can sell for anywhere between $5,000 on the low end to over $30,000,000 on the high end. The most ever paid at auction for a Daqian Zhang piece was $34,890,650 for the piece Peach Blossom Spring (Hanging Scroll) (1982) which sold on April 5th, 2016. This painting represents an interesting time in the artist’s career, as his failing eyesight had forced him to produce more abstract works of art. Those later pieces are now extremely valuable to collectors.

Where to buy Zhang Daqian paintings for sale?

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How to value Zhang Daqian paintings?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services Department.

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