LIN FENGMIAN (1900-1991)
LIN FENGMIAN (1900-1991)
1 More
LIN FENGMIAN (1900-1991)

Nude by the Window

LIN FENGMIAN (1900-1991)
Nude by the Window
signed in Chinese (lower right)
ink and colour on paper
66.2 x 67.5 cm. (26 x 27 5⁄8 in.)
one seal of the artist
Collection of Ms Feng Yeh
Sotheby's Hong Kong, October 2008, lot 1176
Private collection
Sotheby's Hong Kong, 5 October 2015, lot 1240
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner
Master of Modern Chinese Painting — Lin Fengmian, Seibu Gallery, Tokyo, 1990 (illustrated, plate 59, p.4).
Tokyo, Seibu Gallery, Master of Modern Chinese Painting — Lin Fengmian, 1990.

Brought to you by

Jacky Ho (何善衡)
Jacky Ho (何善衡) Senior Vice President, Deputy Head of Department

Lot Essay

In 1990, Nude by the Window was showcased in Lin Fengmian’s last solo exhibition in his final years at Seibu Gallery in Tokyo. A work of historic significance in the artist’s oeuvre, the painting also features one of Lin’s most iconic subjects, which illustrates the innovative practice and revolutionary dimension characteristic of his works—the female nude. In introducing the classic subject of female nude in Western art into traditional Chinese painting, Lin used the experimental composition in Western oil painting as the framework, while integrating the wash technique and the line in Eastern colour ink into the painting. With the ingenious spatial arrangement and striking colour planes, the artist created a new visual impact shaped by the fusion of Easter and Western cultural sensibilities. Nude by the Window was a work of profound significance in the revolution of Chinese painting at the time.

Nude by the Window depicts a reclining young lady: she is gazing in a certain direction as her pink lips curve into a gentle smile, and her little face is topped with voluminous black hair. With a handful of minimalist lines, Lin captured the graceful body of the lady. Rendered with geometric elements, the lady’s figure feels light and lively as if coming to life on paper, and it emanates a feeling of vibrancy that is reminiscent of Henri Matisse’s cut-outs. Lin’s portrayals of female nudes are retrospective and devoid of erotic undertones, as his refined technique and extraordinary ideas are manifested in every brushstroke.

The work features the Western technique of multiple perspectives. Apart from employing a combination of round planes to accentuate the image of the subject, it uses squares of varying sizes to create depth in the picture space. Endowed with a design element, the Matisse-inspired floral patterns expand the viewer’s imagination of the graphic space. In the use of colour, the painter contrasts vivid yellow, green, and purple against the elegant grey-black, which evokes a feeling of tension that is rarely seen in traditional Chinese painting. Lin created a marvellous balance between square shapes and round shapes as well as a sense of order in the rich composition, injecting a harmonious visual effect into the painting.

As one of the first Chinese artists to study in France in the 20th century, Lin was not only an artist with a bold and international outlook, but he was also a pioneer of modern art in China. Upon his return to China, he devoted himself to art education in the country, and he believed innovation was the only way to elevate Chinese art to new heights. In light of this, he combined techniques of traditional Chinese art and Western art in his teaching. During his years of studying in Paris, he met Henri Matisse and Amadeo Modigliani—from the subtle brushwork and decorative patterns in Matisse’s paintings of women in an interior to the mask-like faces in Modigliani’s portraits, Lin must have been captivated by the works of the two artists. Lin’s exposure to various artistic styles during this period inspired him to explore the essence of Western art and to infuse it into his cultural foundation. It is evident in the lines and composition in Nude by the Window, as they embody the soul of Lin’s works.

In the late 1940s, the image of the modern women in Lin’s paintings reflected the subtle changes in his everyday life and artistic pursuit. It revealed a reawakening in his longing for the spirit of democracy, individualism, and the essence of Western culture. Painted in the final years of the artist’s life, Nude by the Window encapsulates Lin’s painting technique and innovative expression, as it mirrors the painter’s shift from ink to colour and from tradition to modernism. It portrays a retrospective beauty with an Eastern resonance, while it captures the sense of timelessness that is recognised in both Eastern and Western art.

More from 20th/21st Century Art Evening Sale

View All
View All