ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)
FROM AN IMPORTANT OVERSEAS CHINESE COLLECTION (LOTS 1442-1451)This selection of rare and important works by Zhang Daqian come from passionate collectors who, over the course of more than 30 years, sought to select exceptional works of each subject matter by the artist, whilst covering his whole artistic period, from early gongbi works to late splashed-ink compositions, calligraphic pieces to figures, lotus and landscapes. Notably, Imitating Birds and Bamboo by Emperor Hui-tsun, and Lofty Scholar by Lush Trees were featured in the National Museum of History’s publication The Paintings and Calligraphy of Chang Dai-chien, as well as Fu Shen’s prominent The World of Chang Dai-chien, together with Strolling Alone in Autumn Hills and Lofty Scholars Boating. As a reflection of their rarity and importance, Fu Shen also wrote a letter of authenticity for five of these works, including a commentary describing in detail the allure of each piece.
ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)

Lofty Scholar by Lush Trees

ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)
Lofty Scholar by Lush Trees
Scroll, mounted and framed, ink and colour on paper
177 x 61 cm. (69 5/8 x 24 in.)
Inscribed and signed, with five seals of the artist
Dated tenth month, renxu year (1982)
National Museum of History (ed.), The Paintings and Calligraphy of Chang Dai-chien, Vol. 5, National Museum of History, Taipei, 1983, p. 112, pl. 68.
Essays of the Sympsium of Chang Dai-chiens Art (In Memory of Changs 90th Birthday), National Museum of History, Taiwan, 1988, pl. 18, p. 121.
Shen C.Y. Fu, The World of Chang Dai-chien, Shi Jh Tang Press Co. Ltd., Taipei, 1998, pp.366-367, pl. 123.
Chinese Famous Painters Collection Zhang Daqian, Hebei Education Publishing House, December 2002, p.231.
Taipei, National Palace Museum, The World of Chang Dai-chien, September 26, 1998 -January 20, 1999.
Further details
Scenes of lofty scholars beneath luscious trees became an increasingly popular subject in Zhang Daqian’s later oeuvre. First seen in his mid-career, Zhang increasingly turned to this theme after he moved to Taiwan in 1976. These paintings center on a solitary scholar beneath towering tree trunks. Lofty Scholar by Lush Trees shares both its subject and its lyrical sensibilities with Loft Scholar Beneath the Pines (fig. 1), shown in The World of Chang Dai-chien in the National Palace Museum, Taipei 1998.
These atmospheric scenes are inspired by the last two lines of the four-line verse Zhang has inscribed upon the painting: “I inclined toward the Way in youth, grown old I reject the mundane world. Among jagged peaks and towering trunks, jade-green moss perfumes the sunlight.”
Zhang repeatedly returned to this quatrain when inscribing his paintings, though rarely acknowledging its derivation from Tang dynasty author Sikong Tu (Courtesy name Biaosheng, 837-908). In his Evaluation of Poetry, Sikong categorises verse into 24 classes on the basis of its moral standing. These four lines come from Sikong’s twelve-line appraisal of the ‘Surpassing class’.
Zhang once stated: “I often recite Sikong Biaosheng’s Evaluation of Poetry, drawing on it as inspiration for my paintings.” Zhang’s self-professed affinity focused on the four lines inscribed on Lofty Scholar by Lush Trees, rarely referencing any other element of Sikong’s work. These lines are suffused with a deep affinity for Daoist ideals, calling for a departure from the mundane world and a return to nature. Zhang shared this adoption of a Daoist perspective with many of China’s historic officials and literati. Though respectful of the worldly concerns of Confucian tradition, such men often pursued Daoist ideals of reclusion in later life. Zhang’s repeated exploration of this subject matter reflects the mental landscape of his final years.
In 1980, shortly before creating Lofty Scholar by Lush Trees, Zhang stated that the splashed colours and suffused washes of another work depicting lofty trees (fig. 2) “comes from a different eye and hand than those of my earlier career”. On close examination the profusion of colour in Lofty Scholar by Lush Trees verdant environment clearly support’s Zhang’s separation of this subject from his earlier oeuvre. Moreover, the scholar in the painting is not shown the oval-faced full profile of Zhang’s previous paintings. Instead he stares upward in three quarter view, condensing great emotional intensity into his relaxed posture. His gaze is open, yet deeply insightful, affirming the Daoist sentiments of both subject and artist.
-Shen C.Y. Fu, The World of Chang Dai-chien, Xi Zhi Tang Publishing House, Taipei, 1998, p.366.

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