Assessing Bonhams $5 Million Imperial Portrait of Consort Chunhui –

Rare Imperial Portrait of Consort Chunhui at Bonhams Assessing Bonhams $5 Million Imperial Portrait of Consort Chunhui   artmarketblog.comAn Imperial portrait of Consort Chunhui which sold for for HK$39,860,000 (US$5,140,133) at Bonhams Hong Kong 2012 Spring Auctions held on the 27th of May at the Island Ballroom of the Island Shangri-La Hotel was the 4th most expensive work of Chinese art sold during the month of May according to Skates Art Market Research.

Identified by Skates as the top investment from the works of art sold during May, the painting was last sold for US$302,788 in May 2005 netting the owner a huge profit only seven years later. According to Skates, “the best investment record was achieved by Giuseppe Castiglione, an 18th century Italian-born artist who was a missionary in China. Selling for just over $5.1 mln, An Imperial portrait of Consort Chunhui produced a 46.21% return after a 7-year holding period. The rest of the top results were produced by contemporary artists”

Intense bidding both on the floor and on the telephone culminated in a Chinese bidder in the room taking home the prized portrait. Attributed to the Italian missionary-artist Giuseppe Castiglione, who served at the Qing Court under the Kangxi, Yongzheng and Qianlong Emperors, the half-length portrait of Consort Chunhui in court dress is executed in oil on gaoli paper and measures 54.5cm by 41.5cm.

Vividly painted in brilliant colors depicting the sitter in front profile from the waist up, her serene expression delicately rendered with full naturalistic attention, her face bright as if from natural sunlight, revealing a young yet dignified woman opulently adorned with feather hat, pearl earrings and a sumptuous orange-ground embroidered dragon robe, all against a mottled pale gray ground.

See a video of the Bonhams sale Review with Colin Sheaf here:


**Nicholas Forrest is a Sydney/London based art market analyst, art consultant and writer.  He is the founder of the Art Market Blog ( which offers independent commentaries as well as research and analysis on the current art market, and has recently been published in Fabrik magazine, Verve magazine, Visual Art Beat magazine, Australian Art Collector magazine, Art & Investment magazine and many others.  Nic has made several radio appearances (both nationally and internationally) as an art market expert and has received press from the likes of the New York Times, Conde Nast Portfolio and Times of London.

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