The third king is Li Yu. He reigns 15 years, from 961 to 976 of our calendar, before being overthrown by the Song. Two painters of his court, Gu Hongzhong and Zhou Wenju, are commissioned to record the pleasures of the palace: banquets, music, nightlife.
The Song fully took in their own right the former imperial luxury. The Huizong Emperor who reigned from 1100 to 1126 of our calendar is also an artist who carefully copies and comments the outstanding drawings of the imperial collection.
A Chinese chess scene including a calligraphy by Huizong, executed from a model by Zhou Wenju, remains in the imperial collection in Beijing. Two players are installed on either side of a broad chessboard in the typical attitude of such games: one plays while the other waits. Two other men are watching the move with great attention.
An extremely similar specimen of this image has just surfaced from a private collection. It is for sale by Gianguan Auctions in New York on March 19, lot 92 in the catalogue shared on issuu.com. This ink and colors on silk 70 x 59 cm includes colophons, one of them by Huizong who wrote that it is an authentic drawing by Zhou Wenju and printed his seal mark.
The catalog of the auction house includes an essay by a Chinese expert who inspected the Beijing example and considers it as an autograph copy by Huizong.
The example for sale in New York would be the original drawing admired and copied by Huizong and perhaps the only surviving autograph work by Zhou Wenju. This treasure is priceless : the auction house does not publish an estimate and the lot was withdrawn from online bidding catalogs.