LIN FENGMIAN (1900 – 1991)
LIN FENGMIAN (1900 – 1991)

Portrait of Lalan

LIN FENGMIAN (1900 – 1991)
Portrait of Lalan
signed in Chinese (lower left)
ink and colour on paper
67 x 69 cm. (26 3/8 x 27 1/8 in.)
Painted in 1947
one seal of the artist
Collection of Mrs. Yuan Shiang-Wen
Anon. Sale, Christie’s Hong Kong, 29 May 2005, lot 245
Private Collection, Asia (acquired at the above sale by the present owner)
Asia Pacific Art Promotions Ltd., Lin Feng Mian - Leader of Chinese Modernism Art, Taipei, Taiwan, October 1999 (illustrated, p.99).

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Lot Essay

Christie's is delighted to present two very different, yet emblematic, paintings by Lin Fengmian.

The artist suffered years of imprisonment, persecution and torture during the Second Sino-Japanese War, and while many of his paintings were destroyed, these two paintings are highly representative of his favourite subject matters. Portrait of Lalan (Lot 155) was painted in 1947, just before Zao Wou-Ki and Lanlan embarked on a boat to France in 1948, and highlights Lin's skills as a portraitist: Lalan's confidence transpire through strong and assured brush lines. The painter brings the viewer's attention to the figure's dark red lips and her glowing hair ornament to highlight Lalan's elegance, as she stands in a peaceful interior. Landscape (Lot 154) provides the viewer with a deep and colourful moutain scenery. Highly evocative of Chinese traditional landscape pictorial tradition with a depiction of fog amidst mountain peaks, Lin Fengmian incorporates Western painting tradition by transforming what would have traditionally been negative space into lines of pastel colour and by representing such landscape with linear perspective.

Lin Fengmian spent a little less than a decade in France in the late 1910s-early 1920s, where his exposure to Post-Impressionist, Fauvist and Primitivist movements encouraged him to introduce new ideas about perspective, gesture and colour to Chinese traditional painting. Upon his return to China, Lin Fengmian became the director of the newly opened National Academy of Art in Hangzhou, where he taught modern painting to Zao Wou-Ki and Wu Ganzhong, amongst others, and where Lalan studied music.

Portrait of Lalan (Lot 155) and Landscape (Lot 154) perfectly embody the artist's quest to converge both Eastern and Western painting traditions, where Eastern aesthetic is executed with Western technique. Standing at the border of figurative and abstract art, these two paintings are a testimony to Lin Fengmian's heritage as it resonated through the work of his students and confirmed the artist's importance in Art History.

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