29 November 2009,
Price Realised HKD 5,060,000
QI BAISHI (1863-1957)
Dragon amidst Clouds and Rain
Hanging scroll, ink and colour on paper
180.3 x 49 cm. (71 x 19 1/4 in.)
Entitled, inscribed and signed, with four seals of the artist
Dedicated to Xiangzhi
Dragon amidst Clouds and Rain is a rare work by Qi Baishi, as it is different from his usual choice of subject matter. Although an ancient subject, Qi abandoned traditional dragon forms and instead employed simple strokes to evoke a child-like, passionate dragon; Qi used his characteristic brushwork and filled the paper with ink for a vigorous effect. The inscription dedicates this piece to Luo Xiangzhi, Qi's seal-carving apprentice from Sichuan. Luo was well known in Sichuan during the thirties but moved to Beijing to further explore the art of seal-carving. Through the recommendation of Li Kuchan , he became apprentice to Qi Baishi in 1933. Qi writes during the twenty-third year of the Republic (1934):"Klast year Luo Xiangzhi came and asked me to teach him the art of carving; he asked if I would show him on the spot. I took my seal stones and carved while I explained to him the intricacies and skill of carving. Xiangzhi said: 'listening to my words was like thunder to his ears, watching me work was like the strong wind that blows.' He was so impressed with my skill that he asked me to become his master. I said yes, and he became my apprentice."-p.93, Qi Baishi Shiwen Zhuankeji (Qi Baishi- Poetry, Literature and Seals), 1961.
About a year later, Qi Baishi gave Two Fishes as a gift to Luo-in the inscription he praises Luo on his improved seal carving, recognition that Luo's skill had reached a worthy level. Thus, this gift Dragon amidst Clouds and Rain is a further evidence of Qi's fondness towards his apprentice and was given to Luo before his return to Chengdu. Qi's two seals reveal that he came to see Luo as his soulmate and fully revealed the closeness between them, which adds significant emotional weight to the painting.
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