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ZHANG DA QIAN (1899-1983)
FROM AN IMPORTANT ASIAN PRIVATE COLLECTION (LOT 1346)The scholar as the subject is often found in Zhang Daqian’s paintings, but it is rare to see one of this scale. Returning from a stroll towards the viewer, the gentleman’s focus remains fixated on the lake behind him, creating a suggestion of awkward mobility to compliment the accompanying poem describing a day of hiking. The years before this painting was completed marked a period of transition and learning for the artist. By chance in 1932, whilst sojourning in Suzhou he met and forged a friendship with the calligrapher and collector Ye Gongchuo who encouraged Zhang to study the gongbi-style and figure painting. The realm of figural depiction in painting was not new to the artist whose early works favoured the Qing dynasty style of using more languid lines. Ye Gongchuo however inspired him to turn his attention to the techniques of the Yuan dynasty and the use of fine, strong and elegant lines that resembled light and flowing threads. Encouraging Zhang through words of praise, Ye Gongchuo remarked, ‘Figure painting today has already reached a dead end; who can shoulder the responsibility (for improving it)? Dai-Chien has a plentiful collection of art and his skill is profound and deep. ...When I think of some person opening the way and walking the road alone, I think it must be (Chang) who will bear that responsibility.’The 1940s and 1950s were the years that saw Zhang at the peak of his creativity. With a devotion to the meticulous skill required for gongbi painting further inspired by the years he spent studying at Dunhuang, the artist excelled at portraying his chosen subjects in a variety of contexts. The scholar gentleman was a popular subject in China and it is likely this present painting was a self-portrait. Although he was working during a modern era, traditional dress was favoured as he desired to emphasise his fondness for the golden period of the past. These lofty scholars often appearing detached in their poise in their long garments with their flowing sleeves and girdled waist were ideal forms for Zhang to display his confidence in the gongbi style. The scholar grasps a scroll and bottled gourd, typical of Zhang’s renderings of scholarly gentlemen. The gourd is an important and auspicious symbol, acting as a symbol of fertility, abundance and good luck, as well as a sign of healing. The gourd was most likely used as a vessel for storing food, liquor, or medicine – in this case, the poem implies that the gourd in the scholar’s hand is filled with wine.When viewing this painting our eye initially rests on the swaying scholar in the foreground, the movement of his animated gait suggested by a few fine strokes signifying his imbalanced posture. The entirety of the landscape places the scholar at the forest edge, against the vastness of the lake, offering an impression of secluded beauty for the scholar to enjoy. Like Ni Zan, Zhang uses foliage to create a sense of layered perspective in his landscape paintings, evoking a quiet melancholy often felt in classical paintings. The unique rendering and texture of the trees see Zhang combining the gnarled burls of the autumn pine together with the aged contortions of the cypress trees. Both the pine and cypress are often used as symbols of longevity - here Zhang further emphasises the symbolic and spatial weight of the trees to contrast the few, wispy tufts of reeds delineating the water’s edge.The winter of 1948 marked Zhang Daqian’s self-exile from China. This present painting, created in the spring of the same year, was perhaps a premonition of the inevitable departure from China and an extension of the scholar’s own feeling of loneliness being removed from his birthplace and family.
ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)

Lone Scholar in the Autumn Woods

ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)
Lone Scholar in the Autumn Woods
Scroll, mounted and framed, ink and colour on paper
89.6 x 135 cm. (35 ¼ x 53 1/8 in.)
Inscribed with a poem and signed, with two seals of the artist
Dated fourth month, wuzi year (1948)
Sale room notice
Please note this lot is withdrawn.
此拍品已撤拍 ◦

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