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ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)
RARE AND IMPORTANT WORKS FROM THE CHI FAMILY COLLECTION (LOTS 1376-1381)The collection of Mr. Chi is the result of a lifetime’s dedication to connoisseurship and beauty. For more than half a century, Mr. Chi built an exceptional assemblage of Chinese paintings, and is celebrated as a man whose taste led others to recognize the importance of Chinese culture and history. Mr. Chi’s enthusiasm for Chinese culture encompassed Chinese paintings and Classical Calligraphy, epitomizing the scholar gentleman traditions of connoisseurship.Graduating from University of Shanghai, Mr. Chi worked in the financial sector in China in the late 1930s and early 1940s, and held a position as General Manager of Standard Chartered Bank in Harbin. He later moved to Shanghai in 1940s and started his own business, Yongfengde Hao, a pioneer of foreign trading. Lots 1378-1381 were created by calligraphers in celebration of Chi’s grand opening of Yongfengde Hao. These gifts by such prominent calligraphers of the time is indicative of Mr. Chi’s close ties to the political and cultural world, and a reflection of his social status. Despite being occupied with running his business, Mr. Chi had a deep appreciation and taste for Chinese art, and purchased works by Zhang Daqian in the 1940’s. In Chinese New Year of 1949, the Chi family took a family portrait in Shanghai with Guanyin After Early Tang Style (Lot 1376) hung on the wall of their mansion, symbolic of its importance within Mr. Chi’s collection. After 1949, the family immigrated to Taiwan, and later to the United States. The two Zhang Daqian paintings and four calligraphic works also traveled with them on their journey, passed down by descent, and has been treasured by the family to this day.According to Chi family’s recollection, the two works by Zhang Daqian were purchased from an exhibition in Shanghai. According to Zhang Daqian’s biography, Zhang held exhibitions at Chengdu Road, Shanghai, during May 1947 and May 1948, and it is very likely the present two paintings were acquired during these particular shows.On 12th November 1967, the National Museum of History in Taipei held a special exhibition of art and cultural relics of Dunhuang (Bulletin of the National Museum of History has the exhibition list, which includes the Dunhuang exhibition1) and these two works were loaned especially to the museum for the exhibition for which the National Museum of History wrote a letter of gratitude to Mr. Chi and this has been kept in the family to this day.Mr Chi’s tremendous journey in collecting, witnessed in this present Collection, continues to be worthy of celebrating - such was his passion for the paintings he collected, the family lived with the art fully appreciating its beauty and importance. Guanyin After Early Tang Style and Horse After Northern Wei Style have been with the family for over 60 years, with the former hung in the sitting room of the collector’s house and the latter displayed in the his daughter’s bedroom.
ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)

Horse After Northern Wei Style

ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)
Horse After Northern Wei Style
Scroll, mounted and framed, ink and colour on silk
106 x 64.5 cm. (41 ¾ x 25 3/8 in.)
Inscribed and signed, with three seals of the artist
Dated eighth month, bingxu year (1946)
Purchased by the original owner through Zhang Daqian’s exhibitions in Shanghai in 1940’s, and passed down by descent.
Taipei, National Museum of History, Special Exhibition of Art and Cultural Relics of Dunhuang, 12 November, 1967.

Dunhuang played an immensely important part in Zhang Daqian’s artistic development. Zhang’s exposure to the magnificent Buddhist murals of the Tang dynasty and even earlier periods of China’s artistic traditions proved to be a creative breakthrough for the artist’s subsequent creations, evident in his meticulous brushwork and exact application of colour.
Horse After Northern Wei Style is based on a mural painting located on the central pillar of the eastern wall of Dunhuang Mogao Cave 290 from the Northern Wei dynasty. The mural depicts a horse and its groom from the northern tribes (illustrated) with the groom displaying a tall nose and sunken eyes. According to He Shizhe’s research, the horse depicted could possibly be a very important horse in history as records show Emperor Wu of the Northern Zhou gave a royal steed to General Li Xian. Here, in Horse After Northern Wei Style, Zhang Daqian omits the ethnic figures and background, choosing to only depict the white steed. He renders the three-dimensionality of the horse through the use of light ink wash to represent shadowing, while using white powder to highlight the joints and hairs. The inclusion of elegant vermillion, azure blues, and malachite greens to depict the harness further heightens its finesse and the horse’s hooves remain large, similar to the original Northern Wei work.
Zhang Daqian once stated, “Northern Wei is exaggerative. They paint horses from the western regions, and they paint the hooves twice as large as an average horse’s.” Even though the painting is devoid of figures, the reins are apparent, giving power and animation to the horse and likely groom, working hard to tame the stallion.
Post Lot Text
Piebald horse, black and dappled gray, Purple ribbons in his three-tufted mane,
With silvery hooves and dragons back, His white steps slant through the mists.
Alas how he ambles and shambles along, Slowly pacing through mulberry and hemp;
Why doesnt he, a thousand miles away, Leap and bound beyond the skys horizon?

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