This collection of classical paintings was part of the collection of K'ung Hsiang Hsi (Kong Xiangxi, 1880-1967). Born in Taigu, Shanxi province to a well-established family of businessmen and educated by Christian missionaries, K'ung was a 75th-generation descendant of Confucius.
K'ung Hsiang-hsi was a passionate advocate for education - having studied at Oberlin College and Yale University before returning to China in 1907, he helped to set up schools in his hometown of Taigu to fulfill his vision of strengthening China through education in the 1910's. His initial career as an educator was cut short by the political disruption caused by the fall of the Qing dynasty. He was quickly appointed the civil administrator of Taigu and division commander of the local army. Shifting politics obliged K'ung to spend time in Japan, where he met and in 1914 married Soong Ailing (1889-1973), eldest of the three famed Soong sisters and eventually became the brother-in-law of Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek.
K'ung also engaged in business, trading internationally in kerosene and other natural resources through his Xiang Ji Company. K'ung Hsiang Hsi served in several critical posts in the Republic of China government: Minister of Industry and Commerce (1928-1931), Minister of Finance (1933-1944), Governor of the Central Bank of China (1933-1945), and Premier of the Republic (1939-1945). During his career he enacted important economic reforms and was among the key architects of China's modern financial and industrial systems.
As a highly educated and sophisticated businessman, K'ung enjoyed the resources and the aesthetic sensibilities to appreciate fine works of art. His pivotal role in the government and close connections with influential people in China and abroad also provided him with ready access to important artists and collections, allowing the family to assemble one of the most important collections of jewellery, jadeite, Chinese paintings and works of art in modern Chinese history. To appreciate the treasures in K'ung Hsiang-hsi's family collection is to embark on a journey in history through the eyes of a true connoisseur. K'ung lived in the United States after 1947 and these paintings remained in the family by descent.
Christie's is proud to present a magnificent selection of jewellery, Chinese paintings and Chinese works of art from the family collection of K'ung Hsiang-hsi. A selection of Fine Chinese Modern Paintings which includes works by Zhang Daqian and Xie Zhiliu, to be sold in our salerooms on 2 June 2015 (Lots 1497-1520).