Emperor Qianlong of Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) was known for being a patron of the arts and crafts.
And among the court painters who served during his reign, Qian Weicheng, also a high-ranking official, and Yu Xing were his favorites, given the inscriptions he wrote on many of their works.
An ink landscape by Qian and a genre painting of fish by Yu will go under the hammer at Sotheby's auction in Hong Kong, on April 1.
It took Qian two months to complete A Landscape Inspired by Four Great Painters of Yuan, a five-meter-long scroll which pays tribute to his mentors, the four master artists of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368): Zhao Mengfu, Huang Gongwang, Ni Zan and Wang Meng. It was gift to his brother Qian Weiqiao.
In Fish and Algae, Yu depicts an animated scene in which nine species of fish swim among clusters of weed. The fish motif implies peace and happiness in Chinese cultural traditions, and also embodies a Taoist take on life. It therefore won the heart of Qianlong who wrot a poem and put seven of his seals on the work.