Flying Geese Ink and colour on paper, hanging scroll 71cm x 68cm (28in x 26¾in).
Provenance: Mary and George Bloch, purchased directly from the artist in Hong Kong in the late 1970s
George Bloch (12 October 1920 to 27 April 2009) was born into a prominent industrial family in Vienna and educated in England. In 1938 he decided to move to Shanghai. It was on the streets of Shanghai during the war-years that George acquired his business skills and laid the foundations for his wealth. Uprooting yet again, he moved to Tokyo in 1949. It was in Tokyo that he established Herald International Ltd. George moved the company to Hong Kong in 1955. Today, the company is called Herald Holdings Ltd and is publicly listed and quoted on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. It manufactures and distributes toys, timepieces, houseware, and computer components and currently has nine of its own factories in China.
In 1969, George married Mary and they began to actively collect art together, expanding George's early interest in collecting stamps to encompass a wider, far more sophisticated range of art. George was a born collector, but with his partnership with Mary his interests broadened considerably. Early acquisitions of Chinese and some Japanese art, included lacquer and ivory carvings, ceramics, glass and other works of art soon led to a life-time love for modern Western paintings and sculpture. Together they also formed the greatest private collection of Chinese snuff bottles.
Their collection of twentieth-century Western paintings was among the first formed in Hong Kong, and came to be seen as the most important in the region. At the time you could see more Picassos hanging on the walls of their apartment in Villa Monte Rosa than there were in the rest of Hong Kong put together. From this interest sprang a range of activities which took them to museums and auctions around the world, and saw Mary appointed to the Peggy Guggenheim Advisory Board in Venice.
Their interest in twentieth-century Chinese painting was ignited by a chance meeting with Lin Fengmian at a dinner party at the Frech consulate in the late 1970s. Lin had come to Hong Kong without funds, and had brought a selection of paintings with him to sell. The Blochs bought their first four paintings directly from the artist at the dinner party, following up with four additional carefully selected purchases.
Lin Fengmian's hometown, Gegongling Village, Baigong Town, Mei County, Guangdong Province, China (Provenance: Han Mo 24, Han Mo Xuan Publishing Co., Ltd, Hong Kong, 1992) 林風眠的故鄉，廣東省梅縣白宮鎮閣公村 （圖片來源：《名家翰墨》月刊第24期，翰墨軒出版有限公司，香港，1992年）
Mary and George Block at their home at Villa Monte Rosa in Hong Kong in the early 1990s 1990年早期瑪麗及莊智博伉儷攝於香港玫瑰新邨寓所