Ming Handscrolls Highlight Auction

NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s will present the Roy and Marilyn Papp Collection – one of the finest private collections of Chinese Paintings remaining in the United States – in the first evening sale of Chinese Paintings ever held in New York.

Renowned for its breadth of schools, styles and formats, as well as its tremendous quality across all works, the 122-lot auction offers paintings with established provenance and significant exhibition history that have been off the market for decades. The sale on 14 September 2016 is expected to realize $10/15 million.

L. Roy Papp (1927-2011), a distinguished banker and businessman, developed his taste and appreciation for Asian Art as the U.S. Director of the Asian Development Bank in Manila from 1975-1977.

Upon returning to the United States, he and his wife Marilyn, an art history graduate of Douglass College at Rutgers University, began acquiring Chinese Paintings under the guidance and encouragement of several important figures in the field: Claudia Brown of the Phoenix Art Museum, Ju-hsi Chou of Arizona State University and Howard Rogers, a renowned art dealer.

Collectors of Multiple Media

Drawn to the elegance and expressionism of Chinese Classical paintings, the Papp’s repertoire was unhampered by subject matter, medium or artist: hanging scrolls, handscrolls, albums, fans, landscapes, paintings of figures and animals from most of the major schools from the Ming and Qing Dynasties are all represented in the collection.

Active philanthropists in their hometown of Phoenix, Arizona, works of art from the Papp Collection were often exhibited at Arizona State University and the Phoenix Art Museum where they were enjoyed by students and scholars alike. In fact, a selection of Chinese paintings from this extensive collection remains in these institutions, where they may continue to be studied and appreciated by the Arizona community.

Rongde Zhang, Head of Sale, Classical Chinese Paintings, commented: “Roy and Marilyn Papp had immense foresight assembling their extensive collection of Chinese paintings in the 1970s and 1980s, far before much of the rest of the world began researching and appreciating the field.

Fueled by their passion and dedication, this comprehensive overview of works from the Ming and Qing Dynasty includes a tremendous range of artists, exploring a variety of themes. We are honored to offer The Roy and Marilyn Papp Collection of Chinese Paintings, which have been off the market for over twenty-five years, to connoisseurs in the United States and beyond.”

Handscrolls Highlight Sale

Wang Hui (1632-1717), the most highly-esteemed painter of that period, commemorated the Southern Inspection Tours of 1684 and 1689 with Emperor Kangxi’s Journey to the South.

In its full form of twelve handscrolls, the masterpiece illustrates the Kangxi Emperor’s visits to economic and strategic sites in the southern regions of China, confirming his legitimacy to the populace and consolidating his power.

Unfortunately, in the centuries that followed its creation, the set was dispersed: today, ten scrolls in their original condition are housed in institutional collections, including the third handscroll currently on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, while one has not been seen for decades.

The present lot, shown here, is a portion of handscroll number six, the longest and best preserved of several that together made up this particular handscroll.

Well documented in scholarly publications and exhibited extensively in prominent museums around the world, this section of Emperor Kangxi’s Journey to the South is a tremendous illustration of the intersection of politics, history and art (estimate $4/6,000,000).

Shen Zhou was the quintessential literatus – a scholar, poet, calligrapher and painter – and his works of art are reflective of this. Enjoying the Mid-Autumn Moon, (estimate $1,800,000/2,500,000), a two-part handscroll, merges the sister arts of painting and calligraphy; a painting of three men seated beside a riverbank, one lifting his wine cup as a salute to the moon above, is accompanied by a heartfelt poem about the mid-Autumn Festival composed and written by the artist in powerful calligraphy.

An intimate glimpse, in image and verse, of the poetic sentiments of a seminal figure in 15th Century Suzhou cultural circles, this handscroll will be offered appropriately on 14 September, the date of this year’s mid-Autumn Festival.