The Paris Notes
"In October 1988, Mr. Mitsuo Yamazaki, President of Seibu Department Stores, Ltd., proposed, 'We will organize La Foire de Paris in Tokyo in the coming October, and would like to invite you to create a Paris landscape collection for the event. Would you and Mrs. Wu be able to come to Paris?' Little did he know that I was drawn to this idea strongly. When I studied in Paris as an art student, I devoured and was fascinated by Western art. Forty years passed, I am getting older. Came back, I use my oriental hands and eyes to paint the old Parisnew Paris. There are much to feel about, not least to paint! I accepted Mr. Yamazaki's invitation and returned to Paris in the chilling Spring this year (1989). Before I left, I visited my alma mater out of remembrance…and inquired about the whereabouts of my late teacher, the reputable Professor Souverbie. He often reminded me that there were two types of art, the minor type entertains, while the major one touches hearts." --Wu Guanzhong, The Paris Notes
In Spring of 1989, Wu visited Paris again for a month. With mixed feelings, the artist, now 70 years old, savoured the fond memories of his time in the capital as a student, and was eager to revisit the iconic landmarks, such as Chateau de Versailles, Montmartre, Musee du Louvre, Fontainebleau and Barbizon. He might have a different role, but his passion for art remained the same after four decades.
La Maison de la Reine (Lot 363) painted in 1989 was completed after the trip. Wu portrayed the private villa of Marie Antoinette, wife of Louis XVI, built in 1783 with expressive and sweeping brushstrokes. The rustic country house contrasted with the splendour of Chateau de Versailles sharply. Spaces are experienced by the mood transmitted within. To express his personal feeling toward this space, he extracted the essence of this Western building through his oriental eyes and hands, and adjusted the composition so that most of the canvas was taken up by the blue sky, white clouds and the lakeside. The three tree trunks that almost pierce through the composition in the foreground and the trees nearby highlight the relationship between the landscape and Nature. In his painting, La Maison de la Reine is not part of the old Paris, but represents the bright new Paris, attesting to the unique path the artist discovered in Paris over the past 40 years.