Kitsch masterpiece, Vladimir Tretchikoff's Chinese Girl, gains record price at Bonhams auction
A PICTURE dubbed the most reproduced fine art print in the world has sold at auction in London for almost $A1.47 million, a record for South African artist Vladimir Tretchikoff.
Chinese Girl was bought by the chairman of Graff Diamonds International, Laurence Graff, for STG982,050 ($A1.44 million), Bonhams auctioneers said.
"It's a new world record for Tretchikoff," a Russian emigre who settled in South Africa, said Bonhams head of communications and marketing Julian Roup.
Mr Graff, a British jeweller, will put the iconic painting on public display with the rest of his collection of South African art at the Delaire Graff Estate at Stellenbosch outside Cape Town.
"The picture is going home to Cape Town, where Tretchikoff painted it. It's rather wonderful," Mr Roup said.
Chinese Girl is a simple charcoal drawing on a brown canvas illuminated by an iridescent green-blue face, luscious black hair and bright golden tunic.
Bonhams said it was widely believed to be the most reproduced fine art print, noting Tretchikoff himself claimed to have sold half a million large-format reproductions by the end of his career.
Mr Roup said Wednesday's sale price, which includes a buyer's premium, signalled a new recognition for an artist who before his death in 2006 at the age of 92 was often regarded as "kitsch".
original article www.theaustralian.com.au
Vladimir Tretchikoff's original painting of the Chinese Girl, believed to be the world's most reproduced print, is to go on sale in London.
The Russian artist, who died in 2006, claimed that by the end of his career he had sold half a million large-format reproductions of the print worldwide.
The portrait of a young Chinese girl with distinctive green-hued skin and ruby lips could fetch up to £500,000.
The painting will form part of Bonhams' South African art sale on 20 March.
Tretchikoff, who grew up in Russia and Shanghai, eventually settled in South Africa in 1946 and painted the Chinese Girl in Cape Town in 1952.
His model was Monika Sing-Lee, then 17, whom he spotted working at her uncle's launderette in Sea Point, Cape Town.
'King of Kitsch'
According to Tretchikoff's biographer Boris Gorelik, the image - also known as the Green Lady - went on to become "one of the most important pop culture icons in Britain and the Commonwealth in the 1950s".
Its popularity led to Tretchikoff being called the "king of kitsch" - a moniker he hated, insisting he was a serious artist.
The painting was bought directly from the artist by a woman in Chicago when Tretchikoff was touring the US in the 1950s. It has remained in the same family for the past 60 years.
"The combination of lustrous golden silk and the blue-sheen of the model's skin combine to produce an otherworldly glow: a luminescence that is the leitmotif of Tretchikoff's best works," said Giles Peppiatt, director of South African Art at Bonhams.
The work will be exhibited in New York and Johannesburg prior to its sale.
original article www.bbc.co.uk
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