Details
QIU TI
(SCHUDY, Chinese, 1906-1958)
West Lake in Autumn
signed in Chinese (lower right)
oil on canvas
53 x 46 cm. (20 7/8 x 18 1/8 in.)
Painted in 1946
Provenance
Christie's Hong Kong, 28 April 2002, Lot 163
Acquired from the above by the present owner
Literature
Art Beatus, Three Generations of Chinese Modernism, Vancouver, Canada, 1998 (illustrated, p. 20).
Guangxi People's Publishing House, China Oil Paintng in the Twentieth Century, Volume 1, 1900-1949, Gunagxi, China, 2001 (illustrated, p. 211).
Beijing Art Photography Publisher, Twentieth Century Chinese Oil Painting I-2, PRC Ministry of Culture & China Oil Painting Club (Ed.), Beijing, China, 2004 (illustrated).
Jaingsu Publishing House, Qiu Ti, Jiangsu, China, 2006 (illustrated, p. 53).
Documentary of Western Paintings in 20th Century China: Jielan Society, Cultural Art Publishing House, Beijing, China, 2010 (illustrated, pp. 135 & 146).
New Star Press, Art Vanguard of the Republic: Portrait of Artists from the Jielan Society, Zang Jie, China, 2011 (illustrated, p. 131).

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Eric Chang
Eric Chang

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Lot Essay

As one of the first female oil painters in China, Qiu Ti, and her husband, Pang Xunqin, were also the main founding members of the precedent avant-garde art organization, Juelan (Storm Art Society). This organization was devoted to developing the modern art movement in China in 1930s. During that period, most artists fancied the realistic style advocated by traditional Academism. Nevertheless, when Qiu returned to China from Japan in 1930 (Vanguard Artists in the Republic of China by Zang Jie, p. 129), she continued practicing the Post-Impressionist techniques and concepts that she had learnt in Japan. She fought against the stale art style, challenged the conservative concepts, embraced modern art movement, and promoted the free and avant-garde spirits in art. In the Spring of 2006, scholar Ni Jun wrote in the postscript of the book Qiu Ti that only 28 pieces of Qiu's works remains. According to The Art Phenomenon of Juelan Society and Post Juelan Society, 20 pieces of Qiu's preserved works were oil paintings. Authenticated by Qiu's family, the important West Lake in Autumn (Lot 149) offered in this Day Sale is Qiu's only surviving landscape painting.
West Lake in Autumn is Qiu's masterpiece in her short but brilliant artistic career. The painting brings viewers to travel through time and experience the West Lake in Hangzhou as it was: red brick cottages situated along the green lake. She creates a fairy tale-like scenery in the painting: clear waves are flushing mildly towards the long causeway; the sky melds into the serene horizon. As such, Qiu's learned techniques that are influenced by Post-Impressionist painting techniques, as well as the elegance and peacefulness of Chinese literati paintings are both revealed in the painting (Fig. 1). At first sight, the lines and brushstrokes of this painting seem to be uninhibited. However, when you look into the painting, the brushstrokes are highly sophisticated and precise. The texture of the air seems to be rendered with the delicate capture of light and dark. The green mountain and lucid water are tinged with the flavor of ink paintings, delivering the silvery grayish mist on the West Lake. This is analogous to the everlasting subtle and pure spirits of Camille Pissaro's paintings. Qiu's sound knowledge of Western visual elements, shapes and forms, and the one-point perspective in her picture planes, is clearly incorporated in her endeavours in combining Eastern elegance in a landscape with a Western viewpoint. As a result, she creates a unique Eastern lake scenery that is her own.
Using dark red and orange yellow in contrast with different kinds of green and neutral colours, Qiu explored how colours express different kinds of feelings. The cold and warm colours composed a harmonious melody which nurtured all kinds of lives on earth. Speaking of the painting techniques, she applied short, round, and regular brushstrokes in diagonal direction liken to the Impressionists. The lively brushstrokes, together with the gentle and balanced light seem to conduct a delightful and charming symphony, and create a timeless picture of a tranquil atmosphere.
The sky-tall trees flourish in the foreground. The dancing branches extend to the top of the painting. Every brushstroke on the trees is full of strength and character. The yellow light from the sky penetrates through the green leaves, and then lands in patches on the ground in a corner. These warm yellow patches and greenish yellow dots serve to illustrate the light source in the painting and bring life into the scenery. Viewers' eyesight is directed from the light to the far background. The lake in the middle is given a brief account of a few slices of grayish blue. Despite Qiu's command in Western painting techniques, the simplification of the middle ground is a composition trait commonly seen in Chinese traditional landscape paintings. This combination is evidence of how Eastern art meets Western art in Qiu's works. In the far background, Qiu depicts distant hazy mountains and a vast green lands. Viewers are guided to walk along the lake to admire the romantic poetic environment.
Qiu's brushstrokes are untrammeled yet tinged with a delicacy. The geometric shapes and lines formed a harmonious atmosphere. Qiu cut the front ground with a diagonal line in the lower left corner boldly. Pavilions and cottages are simplified as triangles, rhombuses and rectangles. In the bottom right corner, there is a zigzag bridge that forms angles, contrasting with the forms of the cottages. They form the contours of the lake in the middle ground ingeniously. This composition reminds viewers of the rational depiction of landscape paintings (Fig. 2) by the Western maestro of modern art, Paul Cezanne. This painting shares many similarities with Cezanne's Mount Sainte-Victoire created in his later years. Realistic depiction and details are replaced by simplified colour patches. Techniques include discontinuation of proportion, fragmentation of items, and separation of colours help rationally reinvestigate the naturalistic landscape viewed by human eyes. By deconstructing and reassembling forms, the artist successfully creates a well-balance and unified composition. West Lake in Autumn shows the beautiful impressions of West Lake during the day, creating a calm, sentimental and poetic atmosphere. In this perfectly balanced composition, Qiu fully reveals her achievement in the combination of Western and Eastern aesthetics.
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