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BADA SHANREN (1626-1705)
PREVIOUSLY IN THE COLLECTION OF MATSUBAYASHI KEIGETSU (1876-1963) (LOT 1000)Farewells are Easy, Meeting Again is HardBada Shanren’s Preface to the Orchid Pavilion resurfaces after its first public debut in Zhang Daqian’s 1955 publication Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from Da Feng TangFor more than sixty years, the location of Landscapes and Calligraphy, an album of eighteen leaves created by seventeenth-century master Bada Shanren (1626-1705) in 1699, was an art world mystery that baffled international collectors, scholars and critics. The album’s first six leaves are a freehand copy of Wang Xizhi’s (303-361) Preface to the Orchid Pavilion, while the subsequent twelve leaves constitute six pairs of landscapes and original verses. Christie’s Hong Kong was very honoured to be entrusted last year for the sale of the latter in Autumn 2018. This season, we are very delighted to present the former to the public.The work first came to light in Zhang Daqian’s (1899-1983) four-volume publication Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from Ta Feng Tang, which was published in 1955 in Tokyo, Japan. As a connoisseur, collector and practitioner of Chinese painting and calligraphy, Zhang took a selection of scrolls and albums with him when he left China in 1949 to escape the tense political situation. In 1954, Zhang began to compile a selection of classical Chinese paintings and calligraphy scrolls to garner the attention of international collectors and hopefully transact some of the works to support his artistic endeavors. Over the years, preeminent scholar of Bada Shanren Wang Fangyu (1913-1997) always maintained that the location of the work and the identity of its owner was unknown. In his essay, titled ‘The Calligraphy of Bada Shanren,’ Wang wrote about the Preface to the Orchid Pavilion:There are eighteen versions of Preface to the Orchid Pavilion written between 1693 to 1700. Among them, twelve are original works…Generally speaking, it is probably based on A New Account of Tales of the World. Yet each version is unique, one states that it “stops at 100 words”, whereas the Dingwu edition has 325 words. Furthermore, he stated that the “Stele Room version has larger characters”. Which “Stele Room version” is he referring to? No one has seen any of the rubbings that he copied from before. Perhaps, he just copied from A New Account of Tales of the World.……Seen 19 works of Preface to the Orchid Pavilion signed Bada Shanren……No.12, 8th month, simao year (1699). Former collection of Zhang Daqian. Current location unknown. Recorded in Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from Ta Feng Tang, Vol. 3, pp. 29-30, Landscapes and Calligraphy, six leaves (authentic). [Excerpt from Bada Shanren’s Calligraphy Collection (II), Han Mo, April 1998, pp. 64-67.]From Wang’s essay, two notions become clear. Firstly, the authenticity and existence of Preface to the Orchid Pavilion is confirmed. Secondly, this lot helps to explain the dating and provenance of the other versions, which makes it important to academic scholarship. Zhang Daqian was revered by many people as a valuable collector across China at the time. In particular, his collection won the admiration of many scholars and critics including, Zhang Heng, Wang Jiqian and Wang Fangyu. In Notes on the Authentication of Painting and Calligraphy from the Muyan Studio, Zhang Heng wrote the following:Six leaves of nineteen lines of running script calligraphy, each measuring…high and …wide. Today, it is combined with six double leaves of poems and painting and recorded as an album altogether. Zhang Daqian’s Collection.When Zhang Heng wrote this in the late-1950s, Preface to the Orchid Pavilion may have been sold at Zhang Daqian’s exhibition in Tokyo in 1955 to Matsubayashi Keigetsu (1876-1963), who kept the work in his private collection for over sixty years. Matsubayashi was a prominent Nanga-style painter during Meiji, Taisho and early Showa periods, who received many accolades during his time, including his appointment as an imperial court painter in 1944 and receiver of the Japanese Cultural order award in 1958.
BADA SHANREN (1626-1705)

Preface to the Orchid Pavilion

BADA SHANREN (1626-1705)
Preface to the Orchid Pavilion

A set of six album leaves, mounted as three frames, ink on paper
Each leaf measures 24 x 13 cm. (9 ½ x 5 1/8 in.)
(3)Inscribed and signed, with three seals of the artist
Da Feng Tang (The Great Wind Hall) Collection of Zhang Daqian (1899-1983)
Collection of Matsubayashi Keigetsu (1876-1963)
Zhang Daqian, Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from Da Feng Tang (The Great Wind Hall) Collection, Vol. 3, Benrido, Kyoto, December 1955, pl. 29-30.
Akai Kiyomi ed., Calligraphy and Painting of Bada Shanren, Tokyodo Shuppan, Tokyo, September 1975, pp. 9-19.

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Amy Yang

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