FU BAOSHI (1904-1965)
FU BAOSHI (1904-1965)

Playing Flute in Dongshan

FU BAOSHI (1904-1965)
Playing Flute in Dongshan
Scroll, mounted and framed, ink and colour on paper
103.3 x 29 cm. (40 5/8 x 11 3/8 in.)
Signed, with two seals of the artist
Sotheby’s Hong Kong, Important Chinese Paintings from the Robert Chang Collection (Part 3), 6 April 2010, Lot 520;
Previously in the collection of Robert Chang;
Previously in the collection of Tsai Chen-nan
Han Mo, Issue 19, Special Study on Fu Baoshis Works Collected in China and Taiwan, Han Mo Xuan Publishing Co. Ltd., Hong Kong, August 1991, p.123.
Han MoFu Baoshi Historical Stories, Han Mo Xuan Publishing Co. Ltd., Hong Kong, December 1995, p.44.
Important Chinese Paintings from the Robert Chang Collection Works by Seventeen Masters, Sotheby’s Hong Kong Limited, June 2002, p. 57.
Fu Baoshis Paintings, vol. 1, Beijing Arts & Crafts Publishing House, December 2003, p.66.
Commemorating the 100th Birthday Anniversary of Fu Baoshi, Shanghai Ancient Books Publishing House, July 2004, p.126.
Ye Zonggao ed., The World of Fu Baoshi, Shi Jh Tang Press Co. Ltd., Taipei, December 2004, p.226.
The Complete Works of Fu Baoshi, vol. II, Guangxi Fine Arts Publishing House, March 2008, p.163.
Exhibition of Important Chinese Paintings from the Robert Chang Collection, June to December 2002, touring exhibition in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Taipei.
Post lot text
Fu Baoshi’s Playing the Flute in Dongshan is an exceptional example of the artist’s wartime oeuvre. During this stage of his career Fu depicted numerous classical subjects from the Eastern Jin, Sui and Tang periods, commenting on the tumult of his own time through reference to examples from antiquity. This painting depicts Xie An (320-385), also known as Xie Dongshan. Xie was a talented scholar from a noble family, who spent years resisting the Jin court’s requests to enter imperial service. Instead he lived as a recluse in the Dongshan (the Eastern Mountains), near Huiji (in modern day Jiangsu). While living in Dongshan Xie took great delight in music and sensual pleasures. However, he eventually accepted the Jin court’s entreaties to serve, and returned to the captial. In 383 Xie secured the continuation of the dynasty at the battle of the Fei River. As an historical metaphor for the ongoing conflict of Fu Baoshi’s time, Xie stands for the survival of the state in the face of foreign incursion.
Playing the Flute in Dongshan combines Fu’s modern adaptations of Chinese brush idioms with a deep understanding of the China’s classical traditions of figure painting. More than a decade before he painted this work, Fu was deeply versed in the history of Chinese art. At 27 he had already published his On the Evolutuion of Chinese Painting, an in-depth study of Chinese art history highly praised by the towering artistic figure of Xu Beihong. The composition of Fu’s painting is well balanced, with productive tension between contrasting techniques. The leaves in the upper register fill the paper with diffuse dark colour, spilling out of bold ink outlines. The titular mountains of Dongshan delicately frame the figures in the lower register, their peaks subtly evoked with a feintly applied ochre wash. Seated upon a mat beneath a tree, Xie plays the qin stretched out before him. Two female attendants accompany him on the flute and a string instrument called the ruan. Their facial details and drapery are defined by clear, crips strokes. In his thinnest lines Fu’s centred brush tip alludes to the gossamer thread-like strokes of Eastern Jin dynasty master Gu Kaizhi’s (c. 344-406). As a near contemporary of Xie An, Gu’s classical brush mode was an ideal medium for Fu’s representation of his Eastern Jin subject. Yet Fu adapts his classical model to the modern period. He animates the scene with additional layers of splayed brushwork, and builds volume and texture with diffuse colours in the faces and clothing of Xie An and his female companions.
History blends into modernity in both the painting’s subject, and its execution. Brushed with sensitivity and spontaneity, Playing the Flute in Dongshan illustrates the apogee of Fu’s figural oeuvre, carefully balancing texture, colour and form.

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