LU ZHI (1496-1576)
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LU ZHI (1496-1576)

The South Marsh

LU ZHI (1496-1576)
The South Marsh

Handscroll, ink and colour on paper
27.4 x 205.3 cm. (10 3⁄4 x 80 3⁄4 in.)
Signed, with one seal of the artist
Colophons by Gao Shiqi (1645-1703), with a total of seven seals
Four collector’s seals, including two of Gao Shiqi
One incomplete and illegible seal
Calligraphy by Chen Jiru (1558-1639), inscribed, signed and dated twenty-third day, tenth month, xinyou year (1621), with two seals
Gao Shiqi, Register of Painting and Calligraphy Collected by Gao Shiqi, in Complete Compendium of Chinese Painting and Calligraphy, Vol. 7, Shanghai Painting and Calligraphy Publishing, October 1994, p. 1075.
Richard M. Barnhart et al., The Jade Studio: Masterpieces of Ming and Qing Painting and Calligraphy from the Wong Nan-ping Collection, Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, 1994, pp.96-99, pl.14
Tian Hong, Wang Nanpings Collection of Ancient Chinese Paintings, Vol. 1, Tianjin People’s Fine Art Publishing, Tianjin, July 2015, pp.94-95, pl.29.
New Haven, Yale University Art Gallery, The Jade Studio: Masterpieces of Ming and Qing Painting and Calligraphy from the Wong Nan-ping Collection, 9 April 1993-31 July 1994.
Ann Arbor, University of Michigan Museum of Art, The Jade Studio: Masterpieces of Ming and Qing Painting and Calligraphy from the Wong Nan-ping Collection, 10 September-19 November 1994.
Hong Kong, Chinese University of Hong Kong Art Gallery, The Jade Studio: Masterpieces of Ming and Qing Painting and Calligraphy from the Wong Nan-ping Collection, 16 December 1994-25 February 1995.
Lawrence, Kansas, Spencer Museum of Art, The Jade Studio: Masterpieces of Ming and Qing Painting and Calligraphy from the Wong Nan-ping Collection, 9 April-18 June 1995.
Post lot text
Serendipity Shall Bring the Paintings to You The Wong Nan-ping Family Collection

This autumn, Christie’s Hong Kong is proud to present selected paintings from the family collection of the last true traditional literati collector—The Master of the Jade Studio, Mr. Wong Nan-ping (1924–1985).

As a progeny of Qing literati originated from Changzhou, Wong Nan-ping reunited with his father Wong Youlin (1900–1988), a successful textile businessman in Shanghai in 1937. He studied Chinese literature at Fudan University and in 1942, he became a close friend and pupil of the famed collector Ye Gongchuo (1881–1968). Despite a 42-year age difference, Ye delighted in providing guidance to his young neighbour. This mentorship laid the foundation for Wong Nan-ping’s enduring passion for collecting and connoisseurship.

Wong Nan-ping acquired his first paintings before he reached the age of 20. With the aid of his father Youlin, he purchased a group of Ming and Qing works from Ye Gongchuo and other important works, including Mi Youren’s Spectacular Views of the Xiao and Xiang, now at the Beijing Palace Museum. In the late 1940s he relocated to Hong Kong and continued to acquire major works, sometimes even made trips to Taipei for masterpieces. Living in the U.S. and Hong Kong in the 1970s, he participated in auctions, received scholars and fellow collectors, and gave talks at private collectors’ clubs and institutions like Min Chiu Society, Kau Chi Society and the Rotary Club. With the assistance of his American friends who were university professors, he sponsored many children of his friends who were then able to attend college in the States. A close friend of Chinese modern masters such as Zhang Daqian, Pu Ru and Xie Zhiliu (who was also a relative), he always granted requests from artists who wished to view and study works in his collection.

Wong Nan-ping’s collection was built over a lifetime of devoted searching and studying, and recognized by all as one of the most distinguished collection of Chinese classical painting and calligraphy. In his manuscript—recently published in Record of Jade Studios Connoisseurship and Collecting—Wong elaborates on his disciplined approach and insights learnt from his mentors Ye Gongchuo and top dealers in Shanghai like Sun Boyuan (1898-1984) of Jibao Zhai and Qian Jingtang (1907-1983) of Liuying Tang. They include: make friends with those in the field; look more and buy fewer; have your own conviction and do not blindly follow trends; be willing to make higher-than-market offers on the best works; and serendipity shall bring the paintings to you.

The Jade Studio Collection has been sought after by museums and scholars for over half of a century. Many works from the collection have been donated and are currently housed at top-notch museums. Notably, Wang Anshi’s (1021–1086) only extant calligraphy and the Sothern Song Longshu version of his complete works, were donated to the Shanghai Museum, a long-held wish fulfilled by his family posthumously. Exhibitions of selected works have been held at Santa Barbara Art Museum, Yale University Art Gallery, University of Michigan Museum of Art, Art gallery at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Spencer Museum of Art, among others. Seminal publications on the collection, especially The Jade Studio: Masterpieces of the Ming and Qing Painting and Calligraphy from the Wong Nan-ping Collection—authored by the preeminent scholars of the field including Richard M. Barnhart, James Cahill, Shen Fu and published by Yale University Art Gallery—can be found in any university or museum library, attesting to its significance.

“Without serendipity, even if you have it in hand, it will not stay.” To Wong Nan-ping, collecting’s two components—acquiring and preserving—are two separate aspects. Money alone does not guarantee quality nor longevity of a collection. His artistic taste reflects an inner self possessing the same qualities as the artists he admires and works he treasures. Along his collecting journey Wong Nan-ping cultivates a life of benevolence, generosity, refinement and selflessness. Beloved by families, friends, academic and museum communities, he transcends the boundaries of collectors, connoisseurs, dealers, literati, artists and scholars, and stands in a class of his own.

Brought to you by

Jessie Or (柯少君)
Jessie Or (柯少君) Vice President, Senior Specialist, Head of Sale

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Lot Essay

Mountain Living by the Riverbank — The Sentiment of Leisurely Reclusion of The South Marsh

Lu Zhi (1496-1576) studied under Wang Ao (1450-1524), Zhu Yunming (1460-1526), and Wen Zhengming (1470-1559), and became a versatile specialist in birds and flowers as well as landscape. As one of the leading artists of the Wu School post-Wen Zhengming, he lived in reclusion later in his life.
The South Marsh exemplifies his elegant and fluid brushwork, which vividly depicts a Jiangnan scene of villages by the water and surrounded by hills. He signed as “Lu Zhi supplements the painting,” which suggests that this work was meant to illustrate and accompany a calligraphic literary work already in existence. A work currently housed at the Taipei National Palace Museum—a collaboration between Wen Zhengming and Lu Zhi—which features calligraphy by Wen Zhengming and painting by Lu Zhi, also bears a similar signatory inscription. It is reasonable to assume that The South Marsh was painted to illustrate a now lost piece of calligraphy. The famed literati calligrapher and artist Chen Jiru (1558-1639) appended his commentary and observation of nature and human activities of living in the mountains, reinforcing the themes in The South Marsh.
In the early Qing period, this work was owned by the distinguished collector Gao Shiqi (1645-1703). The current title, The South Marsh, is derived from the first of his four inscriptions. Apparently, he travelled with this handscroll, and viewed and inscribed on it along his journeys—a sign of his fondness for this masterpiece.

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