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A Chinese painting from 1924 is expected to fetch at least $45 million in an auction in Hong Kong, as collectors' appetite for art continues to rise even amid economic uncertainty brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
The painting by influential Chinese modern artist Xu Beihong depicts a slave hiding in a cave and a lion. It is based thematically from ancient Roman mythology and Aesop's Fables, according to Christie's auction house, which unveiled the painting Monday.
Xu frequently uses the lion in his work to exemplify his faith in the rise of the Chinese nation. The lion in the painting is wounded, but remains dignified, righteous and proud – a symbol of the Chinese spirit, the auction house said.
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The "Slave and Lion" painting is considered a groundbreaking work that inspired Xu’s later paintings and one of the most important oil paintings in Chinese art history.