Overview

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FU BAOSHI (1904-1965)
Qu Yuan (ca. 340 - 278 BCE) was an important minister to the King from the Southern Chu Dynasty during the Warring States Period. He was also one of the most renowned poets in Chinese history, whose works were collectively compiled in the Songs of Chu. Known for his loyalty to his state and his unwillingness to compromise with the corrupt court, Qu was slandered by jealous officials, which led to his eventual exile and suicide. The Poet Qu Yuan and the Fisherman vividly portrays the scene of the famous poet conversing with a fisherman. The painting is inscribed with Yu Fu (The Fisherman) , a poem from the Songs of Chu. The haggard and distraught Qu Yuan sees a fisherman along the river. The former, curious, asks of his wandering, Qu replies, "The world is foul and I alone am clean. The world is drunk and I alone am sober. So I was banished." The fisherman tries to persuade the poet to abandon his righteousness, but Qu Yuan insists that he would rather jump into the river than to spoil his purity with the filth of the world. Seeing the poet unconvinced, the fisherman sings a song while slowly paddling away. Throughout his life, Fu Baoshi was known as both an artist and an art historian; his figure paintings often bear striking historical and ancient poetic references. His predilection for Qu Yuan's works might have been perceived by many as an influence by Guo Moruo, a politician and intellectual with whom Fu established a lifelong friendship in Japan in the 1930s. In the 1940s, Guo published a book on Qu Yuan and the Songs of Chu and subsequently produced a play named after the poet. It is thus believed that much of Fu's perception and understanding of the subject comes from Guo's interpretation. Around the same time, Fu began to paint a series of Qu Yuan's portraits and paintings depicting the characters in his poems, such as Lady Xiang and the Goddess of the River Xiang, titles of two of Fu's favourite chapters from the Nine Songs. Differing from Fu's numerous other portraits of Qu Yuan, in which the poet is usually shown standing alone in a vast and expansive landscape (an example is Qu Yuan, previously sold at Christie's Hong Kong in December 2010, lot 2669) , this painting presents a rare two-figure composition and depicts an interaction that gives extraordinary liveliness to the historical character. The meticulously rendered details display Qu Yuan's neatly combed hair and clothes, his face an embodiment of intellect and high morals as he stood against the corruption of the society in which he lived; the fisherman's face is tanned and rough, signs of hard labour from his occupation. Special to note are the figures' eyes, which Fu conveyed with such deep emotions that viewers cannot help but ponder what is in the minds and hearts of the protagonists. Fu Baoshi's figure paintings manifest the best of the skills he inherited from Chinese classical art in the Six Dynasties that the artist so admired, and through which he developed his unique personal style in the genre. Connecting the past and the present, Fu Baoshi succeeded in enlivening one of the best known historical episodes to the contemporary world. He gave Qu Yuan a tangible and modern presence, all the while reflecting his own upright morality that echoes so well with the image of the poet.
FU BAOSHI (1904-1965)

The Poet Qu Yuan and Fisherman

Details
FU BAOSHI (1904-1965) The Poet Qu Yuan and Fisherman Inscribed and signed, with one seal of the artist and one date seal Dated winter, December, 1954 Hanging scroll in a frame, ink and colour on paper 52.2 x 60.5 cm. (20 1/2 x 23 3/4 in.) 20th Century
Provenance
Lot 517, 27 November 2005, Fine Chinese Modern Paintings, Christie's Hong Kong.

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Yanie Choi
Yanie Choi

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Lot Essay

Ministry of Culture of the People's Republic of China for The 20th Century Art and Artists File, Certificate number: 0409.

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