Five Nudes is the largest work featuring female nudes the artist ever created, and depicts the greatest number of figures within a single Sanyu composition. According to Christie’s, Sanyu created 56 known oil paintings that feature the female nude during his lifetime, with only six others featuring standing figures. Five Nudes depicts five nude women against a rich maroon and mustard background, with cats playing at their feet.
Sanyu was born in 1901 and moved to Paris in 1921, making him one of the first Chinese artists to study in France. Although he is now hailed as the “Chinese Matisse,” he was relatively unknown throughout his life and died in poverty in 1966 without ever returning to his native China. Taiwanese art dealers rediscovered him following a 1988 exhibition featuring his work in Taipei. Joining Sanyu on the auction block at Christie’sNovember 23rd sale in Hong Kong will be a number of other sought-after Asian painters, including Zao, Léonard Tsuguharu Foujita
, and Kim Whanki