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XU BEIHONG (1895-1953)
XU BEIHONG (1895-1953)
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Lot 2194 From A Private Malaysian Collection
XU BEIHONG (1895-1953)

Cattleya

Details
XU BEIHONG (1895-1953)
Cattleya
Inscribed with a poem and signed, with three seals of the artist
Dated spring, twenty-eighth year (of the Republic, 1939)
Scroll, mounted and framed, ink and colour on paper
86.5 x 54.5 cm. (34 x 21 1/2 in.)
20th Century
Post lot text
In 1925, Xu Beihong met Huang Menggui (1885-1965) in Paris. Huang, a master's degree holder of Columbia University, was on a study tour in Europe. Knowing that Xu had financial difficulties due to irregular government funding from China, Huang asked his second younger brother Huang Manshi (1890-1963) for help. A general manager of Nanyang Brothers Tobacco Co. Ltd. in Singapore, Huang Manshi was a generous man and an art collector. Eventually he invited Xu for a short stay in Singapore at his residence of colonial style, the Hundred-Fan Studio, which was also known as Jiang Xia Tang. Huang was so kind that he converted a small living room on the second floor into a studio for Xu. Through the introduction of Huang Manshi, Xu painted portraits for the local senior officials and the rich, so as to support the living of his wife Zhang Manwei in Paris. Since then, Xu regarded the Huang brothers as the bosom friends of his life and stayed in Jiang Xia Tang whenever he visited the country.
Huang Manshi was a lover of tropical flora, especially orchids. Precious and rare species of orchids filled his garden at Jiang Xia Tang. Influenced by the passion of his friend and physically surrounded by the colourful blooms, Xu became very interested in the orchids and they became his subject matter for painting.
Painted in the spring of 1939, Cattleya exemplifies Xu's artistic talents stemmed from the East and influenced by the West. Depicted in the traditional baimao method, the exotic orchid cattleya trianae flourishes gracefully in a Chinese jardini?re. While the skilful play on light, colour and form is an evidence of Xu's solid foundation in modern Western painting techniques, the composition with the orchid occupying one-third of the painting at the bottom and the long inscriptions one-third on the top is reminiscent of the flower painting of the Chinese literati in the past. These, together with the exotic origin of the orchid, make Cattleya an intriguing work of art and a memory of Xu Beihong in Singapore.

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Yanie Choi
Yanie Choi

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