Opera scene Ink and colour on paper, depicting a scene from 'The Gates at the Southern Heavens', signed and sealed at the bottom right, framed and glazed. 63.9cm x 63.9cm (25¼in x 25¼in)
林風眠(1900-1991) 南天門 設色紙本 鏡框
Provenance: an English family collection of Lin Fengmian paintings; according to the family, the mother studied for a period with Lin Fengmian in Shanghai and during this time acquired the signed paintings as well as collected unsigned paintings by him painted during the classes.
The painting depicts a scene from the Beijing Opera 'Southern Heaven's Gate'. The story takes place during the Ming Dynasty when a high minister was ensnared in an ambush by his political rival, the powerful eunuch Wei Zhongxian. The minister's wife on hearing the news comitted suicide. However, a loyal old servant, depicted in the present lot with a white beard, helped to escort the young daughter Cao Yulian to seek refuge with relatives. The opera narrates their difficult journey together through the snow and ice pursued by enemies.
The painting employs bold dynamic brush-strokes that heighten the sense of drama. The old servant behind the young woman protects and shields her from the elements, menacingly represented through a dense background of angular shapes.
A similar painting was sold at Christie's Hong Kong on 28 May 2010, lot 780.