Paintings found on living room wall to sell for £1.5 million

The owners only paid a few thousand pounds for the pictures

A pair of Chinese paintings that were found hanging on a sitting room wall are set to sell for more than £1.5million.

The works are by the late Wu Guanzhong, who is regarded as the greatest Chinese artist of the 20th century.

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The 4.5ft by 2ft paintings were purchased by the owners for a few thousand pounds when they lived in Hong Kong while it was still under British rule and before the Asian art market sky-rocketed.

Eagle-eyed auctioneer Guy Schwinge spotted the two large oil paintings on a wall of a house in London during a routine valuation.

One, titled White Birches on Mount Chang Bai (Zhangbai), is a hanging scroll painting in ink and colour on paper, bearing two seals of the artist indicating that it was painted in the 1980s.

It is estimated to sell for up to £1m, which will be a record for a 20th Century Chinese painting sold in the UK.

The second painting of a water village in the Jiangnan region has a pre-sale estimate of between £300,000 to £500,000, but is likely to trounce this.

Credits: Dukes/BNPS

Wu Guanzhong's painting of a water village in the Jiangnan region of China

Mr Schwinge, of auctioneers Duke's of Dorchester, Dorset, said: "Wu Guanzhong's importance to the development of Chinese art in the 20th century cannot be overstated.

"He was quite prolific and his works bridge the gap between the past and the present and they perfectly articulate the fusion of Chinese and Western art.

"His reputation combined with the current booming Asian art market mean that his work is now very sought-after and valuable.

"A few years ago a large oil painting by Wu Guanzhong sold in China for more than £20m.

"The vendors paid a few thousand pounds for these two paintings and they have turned out to be a very canny purchase.

"They have lived with them on their living room walls. To now have a couple of paintings in the wall that are worth six and seven figure sums can make people quite nervous in terms of security and is a reason for the vendors to sell them."

Mr Schwinge said the artists' importance is further underlined by the fact his works are represented in major museums and art galleries around the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the British Museum in London.

Both paintings will be sold at Duke's of Dorchester on May 18.

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