ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)
ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)
ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)
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ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)
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ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)

Heavy Snow on a Mountain Pass

ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)
Heavy Snow on a Mountain Pass
Scroll, mounted and framed, ink and colour on paper
137.2 x 70.5 cm. (54 x 27 ¾ in.)
Inscribed and signed, with two seals of the artist
Dated twelveth month, dinghai year (1948)
Shanghai, Chinese Paintings Studio on Chengdu Road, Recent Paintings by Chang Dai-chien, 8-11 May 1948 (exhibition list no. 10).
Further details
Dedication & Self-Improvement – The Liu Jing Xiu Tang Collection of Chinese Paintings

It was a sensation when Christie’s Hong Kong proudly presented the Liu Jing Xiu Tang Collection of Chinese Paintings in May 2013. This autumn, we are very honoured to present the second installment of this collection, comprising 21 Classical and Modern works that belonged to the illustrious industrialist—textile giant of modern China, Mr Liu Kuo Chun (1887-1978).
Born in Shengci town, Jingjiang city of Jiangsu province, Liu Kuo Chun studied briefly at private school at the age of 10. In 1901, he went to Changzhou to make a living and subsequently started a business in textile trading with a dye workshop. In 1916, he established Dalun Machine Weaving Factory with his partners and in 1918, he opened Guangyi Weaving Factory in sole proprietorship. In 1930, he set up Dacheng Textile Printing and Dyeing Co., Ltd. In 1938 he established Anda Textile Co. Ltd. in Shanghai and in 1948, he set up South Cotton Mill Ltd. in Hong Kong. He returned to China in 1950 and served as Chairman and General Manager of Dacheng Company, and Vice Chairman and Deputy General Manager of Anda Company. Later he served as a Deputy to the National People’s Congress, Vice Governor of Jiangsu Province, Vice Chairman of the Jiangsu Provincial Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and Member of the Standing Committee of Jiangsu Provincial People’s Congress, to name but a few.
With a gift of discerning opportunities, a passion for advanced technology and management reform and a strength of horses for courses, Liu Kuo Chun eventually became the leader in the textile industry of the time. In 1941 he began acquiring paintings and calligraphy in Shanghai. He also attended exhibitions, where he met and made friends with collectors and connoisseurs such as Qian Jingtang (1907-1983), Wu Hufan (1894-1968), Xie Zhiliu (1910-1997) and Wang Nanping (1924-1985). Through their appreciation sessions from time to time, Mr Liu enhanced his knowledge on paintings and calligraphy. Later he acquired many works from private collections in Nanjing, Beijing, Chongqing , Hong Kong and Changzhou etc. that enriched the quality and quantity of the Liu Jing Xiu Tang Collection.
Named after Mr Liu’s motto “Dedication and Self-Improvement,” the Liu Jing Xiu Tang is one of the buildings in his former residence in Shengci town, Jingjiang city. Mr Liu not only had outstanding business achievements but also a strong sense of social responsibility. A philanthropist, he sponsored various charitable projects related to education, temple restoration, etc. Part of his paintings, calligraphy and furniture collection had been donated to various cultural institutions, including Nanjing Museum, Changzhou Museum, Changshu Museum and Jingjiang Archives, for sharing his love of art with the society.

Brought to you by

Carmen Shek Cerne (石嘉雯)
Carmen Shek Cerne (石嘉雯) Vice President, Head of Department, Chinese Paintings

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Lot Essay

Zhang Daqian painted Heavy Snow on a Mountain Pass between January and February 1948. That year, Zhang flew from Peking to Shanghai, where he stayed at his friend Li Qiujun’s Ou Xiang Studio to work on publishing catalogues and planning exhibitions for his works. The 1940s saw Zhang’s artistic skills progress phenomenally from his journey to Dunhuang. As the War of Resistance ended, Zhang began to travel worldwide, searching for Classical masterpieces. With good health and good sight, the artist had enough energy to imitate and invoke the essence of the ancient paintings. As a result, many of his works attributed to classical landscape masterpieces were produced during this period, often considered the peak of his early artistic career.

According to the inscription, the present work was an attribution to the painting of the same name by Xu Daoning, who painted his work in the style of Li Cheng. Xu Daoning, a painter from the Northern Song Dynasty, began his career by selling medicine prescriptions at the city gate and painting landscapes to attract customers. He initially painted in painter Li Cheng’s style, but as he became famous in middle age, he developed his style with simple and hard brushstrokes. The famed Xuanhe Catalogue of Paintings recorded 138 of Xu’s works, and the artist was considered a leading figure in the Northern Song artistic scene after Li Cheng and Fan Kuan.

Although Zhang stated that this work was a close imitation of the original masterpiece, a closer look at the composition and painting technique reveals that there are quite a few variations from the original work, suggesting it was a work of his intent. Xu Daoning’s monumental composition places the prominent peak slightly to the right as the scenery deepens into the distance, with sparse trees and naked branches rustling in the wind to create a compelling sense of desolation and a chilling atmosphere. On the other hand, Zhang’s painting exudes more brightness with paper as the choice of material rather than silk. There is also considerable change to the composition: the three grounds (front, middle, and back) in the landscape are more closely connected, with the main peak now occupying the centre of the painting, forming an upright layout that favours grace and grandeur over oddity and sparseness. In terms of painting methods, Xu Daoning pursued extreme simplicity, restraining his use of colour and lines by using mostly short strokes for mountains and the powdering method to depict snow. Daqian’s painting is characterized by a mix of classical techniques, using heavy strokes to illustrate vegetation and blank spaces to suggest snow scenes. The artist applies mineral pigments such as azurite, malachite, and cinnabar to buildings, temples, tree canopies, and figures, using a colourful palette to enrich an otherwise dull snowscape. The use of colours and the spirit of the work are evidently influenced by Dunhuang murals. Daqian’s study and interpretation of works by ancient masters demonstrate his pursuit to “learn from the past but not to be constrained by the past”.

Xu Daoning’s work was once in the imperial collections of Song Dynasty Emperor Huizong and Jin Dynasty Emperor Zhangzong, later collected by Shen Zhou and Bian Yongyu during the Ming and Qing dynasties. The work was published in Shiqu Baoji and is in the collection of the National Palace Museum in Taipei. Since this painting was not on public display, it is unknown whether Zhang Daqian had the opportunity to see it in person or just a photograph from a publication, thus adding more intrigue to his interpretations of the imitation.

Upon its completion in early 1948, Heavy Snow on a Mountain Pass was exhibited in Recent Works of Zhang Daqian, the artist’s solo exhibition in Shanghai in May of the same year. The exhibition featured 99 works priced from 24 million to 200 million yuan, with the present work listed as No. 10 in the catalogue and priced at 120 million, still considered a high price point in the exhibition. These exhibits are all considered important early works by Zhang Daqian, especially rare snowscapes in fine brush such as the present lot. Liu Guojun purchased the painting from the exhibition and kept it in his private collection for over half a century before it came to our auction for the first time.

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