Investing in art and paintings can be very lucrative, especially if the artist becomes famous later , expires and a limited number of his or her artworks are available.China has a large number of rich businessmen , and they are increasingly investing in Chinese artworks as they are relevant to them. One of the more popular artists in China is Xia Li who lived from 1871 to 1937 and produced a large number of paintings which are being auctioned at art galleries worldwide . His paintings provide a rare glimpse of the lifestyle of people in China about a century ago, the clothes, mannerism and relationship between people in pre communist China.
The paintings of Xia Li are mainly line drawings with a brown, grey or white background, with relatively few bright colours being used. Most of the drawings are featuring people with distinctly chinese features who are depicted doing different daily activities like a bearded man with a cap biting a sugar cane (or bamboo) , an old man walking carrying what appears to be a gun or big stick. There are also paintings which show a group of people crossing a bridge on horseback under the shadow of a tall tree, a lord and his associates and a visit by a person on an elephant. There are some sequences of four paintings which convey a message or story about the character of people.
Many of the characters shown in the paintings of Xia Li are older, white haired to depict their age and are mostly male. In the one painting featuring a female character, she is shown wearing Chinese attire, with a flower in her hair, carrying a long stick, with an elderly white haired man who appears to be seated on a rock or boulder outdoors. Some of the paintings are featuring only a single person, usually a white haired person. Most of the paintings by Xia Li do not have a name, they are classified according to whether they depict a figure or tell a story, with few exceptions like the figure painting named as Bodhisattva , which depicts a balding bearded man wearing a robe.
Xia Li has become popular among art collectors in recent years after the sale of the painting Bodhisattva in 2014 at the the Modern Chinese painting and calligraphy auctions conducted by China Guardian Auctions at Beijing, China for $8424 which was 1624% more than the estimated price of the painting. A painting with the figure of a bearded landlord, with his bald white haired bearded advisor and capped associate was sold at Sincerity International Auctioneer, Taipei. However a figural painting which has been attributed to Xia Li sold at Michaan’s auction at slightly below the estimate, indicating the fluctuating prices of paintings.