26 May 2009
GONG XIAN (1612-1689)
Lake and Woods
Hanging scroll, ink on paper
140.5 x 44 cm. (55 1/4 x 17 1/4 in.)
Inscribed with a poem and signed, with two seals of the artist
One collector's seal of Ma Jizuo (born 1902)
Lots 1300 and 1301 were once owned by Dr. Prince Aschwin de Lippe-Biesterfeld, PhD (1914-1988), Germany. Dr. de Lippe, brother of the late Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands, was curator in the Far Eastern Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1949 until 1973. His specialty was Chinese Classical Paintings, and in the second part of his career there he also became an expert in Indian Medieval art and architecture.
Aschwin de Lippe wrote his doctoral thesis on the subject of Li Kan and his work on the Bamboo and received his PhD in November 1942 from the Friedrich-Wilhelms University in Berlin. Thereafter he worked in the Chinese Paintings Department at the Museum of Ostasiatische Kunst in Berlin, during the period he became renowned for his collection of Chinese Paintings. A few years after the city was destroyed by bombing and the museum very damaged, he moved to New York in 1949 where he worked as Senior Research Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. In 1950 he became Associate Curator, in 1965 Research Curator and in 1973 he was named Curator Emeritus.
It is interesting to note that his fascination for Chinese culture was due to the fact that, as a young boy, he had a house-tutor whose previous employment was as German Tutor to Emperor Pu Yi in Beijing. This rather extraordinary experience that the tutor had lived, fascinated so much the young mind of Aschwin de Lippe, that he decided as a teenager to study Mandarin which eventually he wrote and spoke fluently; he was the youngest student in Germany to graduate in Mandarin.
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