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QI BAISHI (1863-1957)
PROPERTY FROM an important private COLLECTION (LOT 1441)
QI BAISHI (1863-1957)

Hongxian Stealing a Box

QI BAISHI (1863-1957)
Hongxian Stealing a Box
Hanging scroll, ink and colour on paper
136.5 x 33.5 cm. (53 ¾ x 13 ¼ in.)
Inscribed and signed, with three seals of the artist
Dedicated to Bojin
Further inscribed and signed, with one seal of the artist
Dated renwu year (1942)
Directly acquired from the artist, hence by descent.
Asian Culture, Vol. IX, No. 1, Asian-Pacific Cultural Center, APPU, Taipei, , Spring 1981, cover.
Paintings and Calligrahy by Wu Chang-sho and ChI Pai-shih, Hanhua Cultural Co., Ltd., December 1981, pl. 38.
Post Lot Text
Qi Baishi studied painting by imitating the Manual of the Mustard Seed Garden in his early years, as a result, his lady figures was deeply influenced by Qing Dynasty meticulous brush (gongbi) style. The artist favoured historical stories and folklores as subjects for this style of paintings, the fine examples of which had garnered him the name of “Belle Qi.” Due to the few number of extant examples of the same subject-matter by Qi, Hongxian Stealing a Box is rare and precious.
The painting tells the story of Hongxian, a fictional heroine from the Tang Dynasty, who steals the golden box of the opposing commander at war, Tian Chengsi, to prevent a war from happening. Qi appreciated both the story and the image of Hongxian, thus created works of the same theme many times.
Qi created this work after his “shuainian bianfa” (later-year innovations) to exchange with his friend for a work of the same subject-matter done in earlier years. The composition of this work is similar to that of a work with the same title in the collection of Beijing Fine Art Academy. Different from the figure paintings Qi created after the “later-year innovations” which are characterised by more free-handed brushworks and exaggerated figures’ silhouettes, this work retains the gongbi style of his early years. Liberal brushworks created smooth and delicate lines depicting the slim figure of Hongxian; depictions of clothing folds in the style of Wu Daozi highlight the dynamic beauty of the character. This work exemplifies Qi Baishi’s artistic inheritance of and innovations based on traditional Chinese paintings.

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Lot Essay

Eight important Chinese classical paintings, including a set of 18 album leaves by Song artists, will be offered in Fine Chinese Classical Paintings and Calligraphy sale on 27 November 2018 (Lot 927-934).

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