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Press Release - December 18, 2020

Rare Song Dynasty Painting Sells for $675K, Setting Heritage Auctions Asian Art Record

Silk scroll featuring polo players boosts Fine & Decorative Asian Art Auction beyond $1.3 million


Chinese School, After Li Song (Song Dynasty). Riders on Horseback, Song Dynasty Heritage Auctions
DALLAS, Texas (December 18, 2020) – An extremely rare painting from the Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.) of polo players riding donkeys soared to $675,000 to lead Heritage Auctions' Fine & Decorative Asian Art Auction to $1,337,455 in sales Dec. 11.

The lot accounted for just over half of the total result from the auction, and set a record for the highest price ever paid for any lot sold in Heritage's Asian Art department. The previous record was Wu Changshuo Peony, Bottle Gourds, and Loquats, Dingzi, 1917, which sold in March 2019 for $399,000.

Demand for the Chinese School, After Li Song (Song Dynasty) Riders on Donkeyback, Song Dynasty was driven by the fact that the sport is being played on donkeys instead of horses, which was rarely recorded in paintings. Donkey Polo, or Lvju in Chinese, is a new sport that Chinese nobles during the Tang Dynasty and the Song Dynasty developed from Horse Polo. Donkeys are shorter than horses and have thicker coats and gentle character, leading to the belief among the Chinese Imperial Court and among the noble class that it is a safer sport than its traditional counterpart played on horses. This Chinese ink and color on silk scroll painting bears the signature of Song Dynasty artist Li Song, along with multiple seals from Yuan and Qing Dynasty collectors, including Boyan Buhua (Boyanbuhua), Pan Zhengyi (Pan Zhengwei) and Wu Rongguang (1773-1843).

"During the year of 2020, Heritage's Asian Art auctions have been consistently performing well, with Important Chinese paintings, fine silk embroidered textiles and period dynastic ceramic pieces of course being the strongest selling categories, and we have seen strong potential in many other growing segments," Heritage Auctions Asian Art Consignment Director Moyun Niu said. " We are very confident that the Asian Art and antique market, especially in America, will continue to thrive and will climb to its peak again."

Also extremely popular among serious collectors was Three Chinese Album Leaves, by Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), Li Qiujun (1899-1973), Pan Junnuo (1906-1981), which climbed to nearly seven times its high estimate before finishing at $47,500. The collectors are willing to pay extra, since it is rare to see the famous lovers' artworks show up in market together. The leaves, the largest of which measures 9 by 12 inches, are signed and carry the seal of the artists.

A Pair of Chinese Painted and Gilded Pottery Lokapala, Tang Dynasty drew a winning bid of $31,250. The figures, each standing straight up on a shaped base and with a fierce facial expression and bent arms. They are cloaked in elaborately decorated armor with dragon motifs under long robes, the armors and robes picked out in orange and green pigment, and the armors richly gilded.

A Chinese Carved Limestone Seated Figure of Maitreya Buddha, Longmen Grottoes, Luoyang, Henan Province, Northern Wei Dynasty sold for $27,500. Originally part of a wall fragment south of Luoyang, where it has been suggested that related examples would have stood in niches along the northern wall of the Guiyang cave, this figure was purchased from Mathias Komor, who was the leading dealer in Chinese art in New York in the post-war period and assisted in the formation of major institutional and private collections.

Huang Binhong (1864-1955) Landscape sparked multiple bids before it closed at $16,250. As grand in size as it is in beauty, this ink and color on paper, with one red seal, stands 51 inches high, 66 when included in its complete scroll.

Other top lots included, but were not limited to:

A Chinese Blue and White Lotus Vase, Tianqiuping, Qing Dynasty, 18th century $13,750

A Chinese Ceramic Daoist Immortal Figure on Hard Wood Stand, Ming Dynasty $13,750

Chinese School (18th-19th century) Procession of Wang Zhaojun $12,500

Attributed to Wang Hui Eight Landscape Paintings, Qing Dynasty, late 17th-early 18th century) $12,500

A Chinese Red Ground Embroidered Silk Dragon Robe $12,500

For complete results, visit The consignment deadline for Heritage Auctions' next Asian Art Auction, which will be held March 16, is Jan. 4.

Heritage Auctions is the largest fine art and collectibles auction house founded in the United States, and the world's largest collectibles auctioneer. Heritage maintains offices in New York, Dallas, Beverly Hills, San Francisco, Chicago, Palm Beach, London, Paris, Geneva, Amsterdam and Hong Kong.

Heritage also enjoys the highest Online traffic and dollar volume of any auction house on earth (source: SimilarWeb and Hiscox Report). The Internet's most popular auction-house website,, has more than 1,250,000 registered bidder-members and searchable free archives of five million past auction records with prices realized, descriptions and enlargeable photos. Reproduction rights routinely granted to media for photo credit.

Steve Lansdale, Public Relations Specialist

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