1632 - 1717
ink and colour on paper
6 1/2 x 70 3/8 in, 16.5 x 178.8 cm
Estimate: $80,000 - $120,000 CAD
Sold for: $103,250
Estate of Gloria Wong Ying-Nin (1929-2023)
Ink and colour on paper, handscroll mounted and framed. Inscribed and signed Haiyu Wang Hui, dated to the wuzi year (1708), with three seals of the artist “Haiyu,” “Wang Hui zhi yin,” “geng yan ye lao shi nian qi shi you qi,” and a dedication. Inscribed by Tie Bao (1752-1824), signed Mei An, dated to the tenth month of the fifth year of the Jiaqing reign (1800) with a collector’s seal, “du cao shi zhe.” Bearing five other collector seals reading “xin zhai,” “yin yuan,” “rong,” “Zhixi ding jian (belongs to Luo Jialun),” and a partial seal in the lower right corner reading “he…” Mounted with two colophons of Luo Jialun (1897-1969) with the first dated to the forty-sixth year of the Republic of China (1957) with one red seal. The second part of the colophon dedicated to [Wong] Ying-Nin, passing the painting onto her as a gift from him and his wife, [Zhang] Weizhen (1898-1997), together with their younger daughter [Luo] Jiuhua, dated 1963. The painting was framed by Wah Cheong, Hong Kong.
The dimensions of the painting itself measures: 6 1/2 x 46 3/4 in. (15.87 x 118.74 cm)
Wang Hui (1632-1717) was one of the most celebrated painters and art theorists during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). As a pivotal figure in Chinese art history, Wang embodied a painting style that harks back to the traditions from the Yuan and Ming Dynasties. He left a profound impact on his contemporaries, students, and subsequent generations of artists who are collectively known as the ‘Orthodox School’ of landscape painting.
The Ming Dynasty calligrapher, artist and art theorist, Dong Qichang (1555-1636) divided Chinese landscape painting into the Northern and Southern schools. He venerated the literati virtue of the scholar-amateur style of the South (the orthodox, zhengzong) over the ‘craftsmanship’ of the court style in the North. As an adherent to Dong, Wang upheld this ‘orthodox’ lineage and directed it into a way of life.
When entering the present painting from the right side, the viewer experiences an imagined space based on a poem by Du Fu (Tang Dynasty, 712-770 CE). “[As the] evening glow shines on the river [after a rain], [it almost seems like it’s] flipping the rocks over [into the reflections]. Clouds gather, wrap around trees and possesses the village.” The village at the far right is indeed concealed by the clouds, and there is a subtle contrast generated between the thick and dry brushstrokes of the rocks with the precise yet delicate waves.
In this painting, the viewer is invited to wander, and even feel lost in the mists of the mountain. It is here that the visitor can contemplate the ephemeralness of nature and time. The river flows forward, never returning to its origin. Within this fleeting moment, the poet feels that his time has come to an end and wrote, “The chaos has to be settled in time, [I’d like to return up north] yet the wandering spirit [of mine is still] in the south.”
The inscription at the end of the scroll bears the signature and seal of Tie Bao (Mei’an), a renowned calligrapher of the Qing Dynasty. Hailing from a military family of the Yellow Banner in the Manchu Qing court, he passed the civil examinations in 1772 and was appointed General Governor of Water Transport in 1799. Tie’s seal on this inscription is marked “du cao shi zhe," signifying his official position, and he dates it to the fifth year of the Jiaqing reign (1800).
One other seal next to Tie’s inscription reads “Zhixi ding jian” and belongs to Mr. Luo Jialun, whose colophon is now mounted with the work. Luo is best known for his role in the May Fourth Movement in 1919. He was also the first president of Tsinghua University in Beijing and a prolific collector of Chinese calligraphy. In January 2022, Luo’s descendants donated a major collection of classical Chinese painting and Calligraphy to the University of Michigan Museum of Art.
The colophon further reveals that in 1963, Mr. Luo generously passed this painting to Ms. Gloria Wong Ying-Nin, on behalf of himself and his wife, Ms. Zhang Weizhen.
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