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QI BAISHI (1863-1957)
LOTS 2838-2847 RARE AND IMPORTANT PAINTINGS FROM THE KATSUIZUMI COLLECTION These 10 paintings come from the collection of Mr. Sotokichi Katsuizumi (1889-1985). An economist, author and pacifist, Mr. Katsuizumi attained his Masters in Economics from the University of Michigan in 1922, before working for the Yokohamo Specie Bank in Beijing from 1925 to 1932. Afterwards he was transferred to Yokohama to work at the bank's head office and was a member of the Japanese Economic Mission to America and Europe in 1937. Subsequently he took on the role of advisor to General MacArthur at the General Headquarters to assist in Japan's economic recovery. In 1968, Mr. Katsuizumi published the English translation of A Japanese Sees the US: Penetrating Opinions of the Good and Not So Good in American Life and in 1970, sat as Director of the Industrial Productivity Consultant Office in Tokyo. Mr. Katsuizumi's dedication to peace and anti-war behavior is also seen in his participation as a member of the Japanese Delegation to the Washington Conference on Limitation of Armaments, as well as the Japanese group working with Four Power Chinese Consortium of Peking. Mr. Katsuizumi had a passionate interest in Chinese paintings, in particular those by Qi Baishi. During his time in Beijing, he befriended the artist through his colleague, Mr. Tanso Ito, and acquired a large number of his works. This was a particularly special friendship, given the political climate and tension between China and Japan at the time. Many of the paintings were purchased by Mr. Katsuizumi directly from Qi Baishi; others were purchased from Qi's second wife; while some were presented to him by the artist in tribute to their friendship. Many of them have dedications to Katsuizumi, using a Chinese version of his name. Mr. Katsuizumi was also active in educating the West about Chinese paintings. He donated 11 Chinese paintings (9 by Qi Baishi) to the University of Michigan Art Museum in 1949, while his daughter Anne Katsuizumi Chew, who inherited the collection, donated 2 Qi Baishi paintings to the San Diego Museum of Art in 1994. The collection was later bequeathed to Sharlynn Chew Circo, Mr. Katsuizumi's granddaughter, and Andrew Circo. An excerpt from Mr. Katsuizumi's letter to his granddaughter, Sharlynn Circo (fig. 1): "So Isamu (Isamu Noguchi) stopped at Peking knowing nothing to do, at that time I happened to meet him and was alone myself because my family was away to Japan avoiding the danger of Chinese civil war. I took him to my home quite frequently. One evening he stayed after the dinner. I showed him my collection of Chinese paintings and drawings hanging on scrolls on the side of the room. He nodded each one fairly well; but not very enthusiastically. Then, I saw the black and white drawings of the contemporary productions. They were all the productions of Chih Pai-shihs. When he saw a small scroll of Cabbage and mushrooms, his eyes sparkled and approached closely to it and said, "This is the real act, is the artist living?" I said "yes". Then, he asked if I knew can see him? etc. a number of questions in succession. Then, he asked me "Can I see him?" to this, I said "yes". So make it haste. "Let's go to see him". Early in the morning before the artists breakfast. He went home fetched a bicycle and came to me before the dawn. Since I too had a bic, we too kicked the wheel hard and we could reach the artist gate very early in the morning. We approached the gate. He appeared and welcomes as very cordial. We were ushered into his studio and showed his tools to paint and showed also how to use them etc. Isamu was very interested in seeing them all and asked him to be able to revisit the place, Chih Pai Shih was delighted to have he come after. When we two bade him goodbye isamu and the old man god so intimate in their spirit even though they do not know mutual words." The Katsuizumi collection excels in examples from the beginning phases of what would become known as the artist's mature period, when he reached the peak of his art. Dated to the 1920's these paintings are a testament to the artist's late transformation, when he turned his back on the great literati painting tradition and created landscapes from the perspective of a humble farmer. Qi did not absorb teachings from the West; instead, his transformation consisted of blending traditional techniques with innovative conception. In the process, popular tastes were assimilated as the artist responded to the changes in society, which resulted in refreshingly interesting compositions. In the paintings, the distinct characteristics of animals, plants and humans are aptly captured with dynamic and unaffected brushstrokes. With succinct strokes Qi managed to meticulously portray their essence and the spirit of their disposition. A postcard letter written to Katsuizumi in Tokyo. The content of the letter is: Dear Shen Quan, when you were in old capital, I was not feeling well and am sorry that I did not get to spend more time with you. Tokyo is a beautiful place and I would really like to pay a visit. Many friends have invited to visit. But I am over and it is difficult for me to travel. The weather is getting cold, please do take care. Baishi (translated by Dr. Lilly Cheng, San Diego State University) Fig. 1: Mr. Katsuizumi's letter to his granddaughter, Sharlynn Circo A note from Qi to Katsuizumi dated seventh day, fourth month, xinwei year (1931) in Peking.
QI BAISHI (1863-1957)

Monkey Contemplating Peach

QI BAISHI (1863-1957) Monkey Contemplating Peach Inscribed and signed, with one seal of the artist Dated xinwei year (1931) Dedicated to Shengquan paper ink 27.3 x 24.1 cm. (10 3/4 x 9 1/2 in.) 20th Century

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Yanie Choi
Yanie Choi

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Lot Essay

Monkey Contemplating Peach is imbued with blessings and symbols of longevity to the receiver, Mr. Katsuizumi, as dedicated to in the inscription. Longevity ranks first among the Five blessings, which include wealth, health, love of virtue and a peaceful death. Peaches have long been symbols of longevity and are considered sacred in China, for its wood was used as a charm against evil in ancient times. An emblem of longevity, the peach is of paramount importance in Chinese culture. The monkey is an important symbol, for its name hou is a pun for a high-ranking noble, and is also symbolic of longevity. The monkey is often paired with the peach of immortality, such as this present painting. Qi positions the monkey upon a rock, a natural symbol of longevity and permanence due to its reliability and hardness. Compositionally Qi makes use of the playful gaze of the monkey who stares in wonder and amusement of gaining the peach, thus de shou? attaining longevity.

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