700-year-old drunken princes scroll fetches £32m in Hong Kong


A 700-year-old Chinese painted scroll from the Yuan dynasty has fetched HK$306.6m (£32.2m) at an auction in Hong Kong.

The 2-metre (6.6ft) Five Drunken Princes Returning on Horseback is by Ren Renfa, a renowned Chinese artist and government official.

The painting depicts the princes riding horses with four attendants. One of the princes is Li Longji, who later became the longest-reigning emperor Xuanzong of the Tang dynasty.

The scroll has been documented in imperial collections and bears a collection of seals, including those of several emperors.

In 1922, the Five Drunken Princes Returning on Horseback scroll was transported out of the Forbidden City by Pu Yi, the last emperor of China, after the fall of Qing dynasty.

The artwork was initially estimated to sell for $10m (£7m) and $15.5m.

Many of Ren’s 21 paintings are held in museums or owned by private collectors.

Sally Fong, a specialist in classical Chinese paintings at Sotheby’s auction house, said: “This painting depicts the story of the five drunken princes after they had a very happy time, and then they got drunk and went back home.

“Among the five princes, one of them is the future emperor. In this painting, we can see that he was depicted as the one who can tolerate the drunkenness, to go back home together with the other drunken princes.”



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