FROM A SINGAPOREAN COLLECTOR
During the Second Sino-Japanese War, many literati, including Xu Beihong, were forced to flee his country and take refuge overseas. The period between 1939 and 1942 saw Xu travel around South-east Asia most frequently, and was also one of the most prolific periods of his career. Xu held fundraising art exhibitions in Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh and Penang in aid of the war effort. In 1941, the artist went to Singapore in February to hold an anti-Japanese society exhibition at the invitation of anti-Japanese societies in Penang. His works created at this time were in a manner of contributing to the war effort and repaying his country.
During Xu Beihong's sojourns to Singapore, he often stayed at the house of Zhang Nuqi and Zhuang Youzhao. Zhang was also a noted painter at the time, whom Xu met when they were both studying abroad in Paris, and became good friends. Zhang's brother-in-law Zhuang Youzhao was then studying in Germany, and was both an entrepreneur and amateur artist. Together Zhang and Zhuang created the Pengte Artist Society, on No. 181, Tank Road. Xu often spent his times at the Artist Society, mingling and painting with other artists, as well as gifting each other with their works. Admiring the Stallion was created in this happy atmosphere, and gifted to Zhuang as a sign of their friendship.
Xu's inspiration for White Plum Blossoms was during his trips to Ipoh, Malaysia with friends-inspired by the purity and tranquil beauty of the blossoms, he created this present piece as a gift to Zhuang.