From a Private Malaysian Collection
These paintings come from the collection of Tay Chek Joo.
Tay Chek Joo was the youngest of five brothers from a modest family in a Teochew an (Chiuchau) Village in China. Family lore had it that the eldest was an honest merchant who managed to acquire a small capital and decided to seek his fortune in Malacca, Malaysia. After a few years, his trading business was expanding and he sent for his third and fourth brothers to open branches in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore respectively. The second brother had more spiritual aspirations and became a monk. Tay Chek Joo, supported by his entrepreneurial brothers, went on to obtain his Doctorate in Geology from Germany. After his studies, he went to Beijing and for a time, was a professor at a university there. Tay Hung Kee was his eldest son and left China to join the family business in Kuala Lumpur under the tutelage of his uncle (the third brother).
Tay Chek Joo had a great love for the arts, especially paintings and calligraphy. His house was filled with his collection which he would admire for hours. It was likely that he befriended Xu Beihong during his student days in Europe, and the paintings were gifts from Xu to mark their friendship. The closeness of their friendship can be seen in the inscriptions where he addressed Tay as "fifth brother ".