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ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)
ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)
ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)
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LOTS 3072-3076 THE CHIA-CHU AND SIAO-MEI CHANG COLLECTION This collection of paintings come from Chia-chu (C.C.) and Siao-mei (S.M.) Chang, a couple on the forefront of China's new consciousness in the transitional period between Republican and Communist governments. Siao-mei Djang came from a wealthy Ningbo family, and was one of the first Chinese female doctoral graduates of the London School of Economics. Dr. Siao-mei Djang was hired by Chang Jia-ao (Chang Kia-ngau), Governor of the Central Bank of China, to be Director of the Research Department. Chang Jia-ao introduced his younger brother Chang Chia-chu, the acting director of the Foreign Trade Bureau to Siao-mei Djang. She was made Director of the Chinese Economics Research Institute due to her many publications focused on South-West China in raw materials and finance. C.C.and S.M. were married in 1934. Although C.C. is often overshadowed by his more famous older brothers, Carsun Chang (Zhang Junmai) and Chang Kia-ngau (Chang Jia-ao), and his wife Siao-mei Djang, Who's Who in China (1918-1950) and British documents on foreign affairs, among other publications describe C.C. Chang as an industrialist, a prominent businessman, promoter of China's foreign trade and General Manager of China Vegetable Oil. C.C. had a great passion for art, literature and music- in 1930, his brother Chang Jia-ao was the producing director for Chinese Opera singer Mei Lanfang in his American tour, and C.C. acted as the "front man" in that operation which he felt was one of the highlights of his life. His love for the poet Xu Zhimo was such that he requested one of Xu Zhimo's poems be read at his funeral. C.C.'s family included Chang Jia-sen, Chang Jia-ao, and two sisters, Chang Youyi, who was the first wife of the poet Xu Zhimo. C.C. and S.M. most likely became acquainted with Zhang Daqian in Chongqing, when they were there from 1942 to 1946. They moved to Shanghai in 1946 and from 1949, lived in Japan for four years, and then Sao Paulo, Brazil from 1953 to 1967, and finally to San Francisco from 1967 till 2000. The friendship with Zhang Daqian for C.C. and S.M. further developed when they were in Sao Paulo, Brazil and shared some meals together. The families got to know each other well, and they visited Zhang Daqian from San Francisco when he moved to Carmel. Zhang Daqian was particularly fond of the "fish tail cooked in chicken fat" in a favourite restaurant of his in New York, Canton Restaurant on Canal Street, which C.C. and Zhang dined at in 1963. C.C. passed away in 1985 and S.M. passed away in 2000.
ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)

Tibetan Dancer

Details
ZHANG DAQIAN (1899-1983)
Tibetan Dancer
Inscribed and signed, with two seals of the artist
Dated Chung Yeung Festival, yiyou year (1945)
Scroll, mounted and framed, ink and colour on paper
106.6 x 60 cm. (42 x 23 5/8 in.)
20th Century

Brought to you by

Yanie Choi
Yanie Choi

Lot Essay

Zhang Daqian embarked on an expedition to Dunhaung in 1941 to study the magnificent Buddhist murals. While travelling, Zhang went through Gansu and Qinghai provinces, and encountered the Tibetan tribe for the very first time. Inspired by the richness of the Tibetan culture, he made many sketches to record what he saw. The expedition proved to be a creative breakthrough for Zhang, because when he returned in 1943, he developed a new style and reached the zenith of his mastery for figure paintings. Executed in 1945, where he lodged in the Zhaojue Buddhist temple in Chengdu, Tibetan Dancer is an excellent example of his new style where meticulous fine-line brushwork, rhythmic double lines and opulent colours are emphasized. From studying the Dunhaung murals, Zhang developed sensitivity to certain details like hands, hairdos, face, and clothes. Historical accuracy also became increasingly important; although he worked from memory, he noted that he never included anything that he had not actually seen for himself. A very similar piece created in 1946 was sold in our saleroom in 2006 (see illustration).

Tibetan Dancer is seen here performing the drunken dancing, with her arm raised and holding a bowl, in full splendour of the bancha - a traditional herder dress, which consists of an animal cap, a fur-lined wrap around robe, with the right sleeve worn empty. Meticulous attention to detail is given to illustrating the texture of the costume, as the artist applies numerous feather-like strokes on top of a layer of colour to convey the softness of the fur. He also applied multiple layers of ink to give a quality of thickness to the fabric. Another significant feature of the painting is the red colour of the costume. The colour is unique to Zhang because it is the result of the artist mixing minerals to create a pigment inspired by the Dunhaung Buddist murals. The figure's beautifully elongated hands and fingers are influenced by the same tradition. Zhang's love for Peking opera is also evident in the face of the Tibetan woman. Her makeup resembles actors on the stage of the Peking opera, where the complexion is pasty white, with ample rouge on the cheeks creating a chiselled effect. The Tibetan theme is rare in Zhang's oeuvre, making Tibetan Dancer a unique painting.

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