PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF LU XINYU
Born in Fujian, Lu Xinyu (1894-1948) received his Ph.D from Columbia University. Lu served as a diplomat and spent much of his career in the New York consulate office, eventually becoming Consul General. In the mid-1930s, he served for two years as vice-consul in Havana, Cuba.
Xu Beihong actively created artworks and organized international traveling exhibitions beginning in the 1930s to garner support for China’s wartime suffering. In addition to art shows throughout Asia, Xu Beihong, who was a leading figure in the art world by this time, worked for nearly two decades to organize programs in the United States. To that end, he solicited help from many influential figures, notably the best-selling author and educator Lin Yutang (1895-1976) in New York and sent many paintings for display and sale. Among the last efforts of this type that involved Xu Beihong was the show of contemporary Chinese paintings promoted by the Chinese government and supervised by the artist Wang Yachen (1894-1983), who was a friend of Xu Beihong. This exhibition featured 105 paintings, including 8 by Xu, and was displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art from October 8 to November 21, 1948. Published in the Metropolitan’s Straddling East and West: Lin Yutang, A Modern Literatus, Xu Beihong wrote a letter to Lin Yutang in 1947 on Wang Yachen’s behalf to ask for Lin’s help and support (pp. 43, 50-51). At this time Lu Xinyu was the consul general at the Chinese consulate in New York and so was presumably closely involved in the project. Relatedly, in a letter by Xu Beihong to Wang Shaoding (1909-1989) written about this time, Xu mentions knowing Lin Yutang and Lu Xinyu (China Guardian Auction Co., November 9, 2004, lot 2199). Donated by Lin Yutang’s family to the Metropolitan Museum is a painting of a standing horse painted by Xu Beihong in 1942 as a gift for Lin Yutang’s daughter Lin Taiyi (1926-2003). This painting resembles the one dedicated to Lu Xinyu a few years later in that both were quickly rendered with less attention to anatomical detail than found in other horse paintings by Xu. However, both horses clearly show an energy and artistic confidence that reveals the master’s hand and his vision of horses as symbols of national strength.