Huang Zhou (1925-1997)  A Girl with Four Donkeys
Lot 890
Huang Zhou (1925-1997)
A Girl with Four Donkeys
Sold for HK$ 375,000 (US$ 47,882) inc. premium

Lot Details
MODERN CHINESE PAINTINGS FROM A DISTINGUISHED BRITISH PRIVATE COLLECTION
MODERN CHINESE PAINTINGS FROM A DISTINGUISHED BRITISH PRIVATE COLLECTION
重要英國私人珍藏二十世紀中國書畫
LOTS 887-891

(introduction continued from previous lot)

Discussing the paintings which he has consigned for this auction, Sir David relates:
'I have always admired the work of Fu Baoshi, after I became familiar with the artist in the 1960s in Hong Kong. As far as his painting of 'The Scholar' is concerned, I recollect I was on a trip to the Canton Trade Fair (as it was then known) to which I was a regular visitor on behalf of Jardines in the late 1950s and early 1960s. It would have been bought from a state-owned antique shop, in which Westerners were permitted to buy art and antiques in foreign currency.

Shortly after returning from our honeymoon in June 1968, and having moved into a new house, we were burgled one night. In the early 1960s I had started collecting Chinese porcelain, jade and paintings, and about sixty pieces were stolen including a painting by Fu Baoshi. In the next couple of days, the burglary was reported in the Press several times. The thief was caught by the Police and jailed but, by then, all the stolen goods had been disposed of and were never recovered. About a week later, Mr Y.C. Huang (Huang Yu Chia, sadly now deceased) a Senior Advisor to Jardines (and my former boss in the Jardines China Trading Division) was contacted by China Resources Ltd in Hong Kong, with whom Jardines did regular and substantial business. They said they had heard of the burglary and, if I was interested in a replacement Fu Baoshi, 'they had one available'. Y.C.and I went along, and this magnificent painting of Chairman Mao's birthplace was produced. Although the cost was somewhat above my 'pay grade' at the time, I bought it and it has been a centrepiece of our paintings ever since.

I bought the smaller 'Shaoshan' view because at that time I mostly preferred Fu's landscapes to his figural paintings, and I really loved my major 'Mountain' view. The smaller version was interesting, I thought, for its different perspective and colour tones, presumably because Fu was painting it in the wooded foothills at a different time of day, so I bought it when it was offered to me in Hong Kong as a diminutive but striking pendant to the big one.

Huang Zhou was not a well-known artist when I was visiting China in the late 1960s or early 1970s, but I liked his subject matter and it only cost a very small sum at the time for such an amusing subject. I cannot remember exactly which gallery I bought it at, but it could have been either in Hong Kong at Tsi Ku Chai, or in China.

I have always admired the work of Wu Guanzhong. My wife Carolyn believes that we must have bought our 'Lake Pavilion' scene in Hong Kong in the early 80s, probably from one of the imaginative contemporary art galleries.'

These paintings are therefore all being offered at auction for the first time. They were purchased purely for pleasure by a private collector, drawn to an intriguing and unfamiliar category of art. In this way, they illustrate the pleasant and much more relaxed circumstances in which fine collections were formed in Hong Kong during the third quarter of the twentieth-century; a period when Hong Kong's cultural life thrived greatly, under the stimulus of accelerating economic prosperity throughout the region.


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Huang Zhou (1925-1997)
A Girl with Four Donkeys
Ink and colour on paper, framed
Signed Huang Zhou, with two seals of the artist
Dated renyin year (1962)
91 x 47cm (35⅞ x 18½in).

Footnotes

  • 黃冑 牧驢圖 設色紙本 鏡框 一九六二年作

    款識:
    黃冑寫於壬寅(1962)端午。

    鈐印:梁、黃冑

    註:黃冑,原姓梁,名淦堂,字映齋。著名畫家,收藏家,社會活動家,是中國第一個民辦美術館——炎黃美術館的創辦人。黃冑堅信「生活是創作的唯一源泉」,他深入生活,足跡遍佈大江南北,題材涉及人物、動物,尤善描寫氣勢恢弘的少數民族人民團結奮發的大型場景。在寫生的過程中,黃冑更將西方素描和速寫的形式與傳統筆墨相結合,加強對畫面中造型的把握,拓展了傳統人物畫的範式和語言,豐富了當代中國畫的創作。
    驢是黃冑筆下最為常見的動物之一,黃冑也與驢有着特殊的「情緣」。早在上個世紀四十年代開始,黃冑深入西北寫生,毛驢就進入他的畫面。經過兩三年的觀察、研究,黃冑已深諳毛驢的各種型態和習性。文革期間,黃冑成為被批判的對象,被關進「牛棚」,擔任養驢的任務。他視驢兒為己出,自己吃什麼就喂毛驢吃什麼。據黃冑夫人鄭聞慧女士說,黃冑所飼養的驢竟可以在他離開後,仍從人群中認出他,猶如多年的搭檔和老友。
    本幅〈牧驢圖〉成於一九六二年。黃冑以毛驢為主體,再加入背景和人物的塑造,使得畫面情境交融。畫上四隻毛驢被分為兩組,型態各異。正中的毛驢背身回眸,氣質憨戆,雖不見高原驢兒的硬朗,卻是溫馴耐勞,可愛十足,與背景中的女孩兒形象互為映襯。畫面上方柳絲垂掛,隨風微斜,女孩身負草帽,背影輕盈,一副尋常農家田間牧歸的溫馨情境,令人動容。本幅作品背景中的女孩和柳枝均有設色,但驢兒的表現則完全由水墨完成。其筆墨層次豐富,水氣氤氳,毛驢肌肉結實,鬃毛蓬鬆柔軟的質感都得以體現。古語有云「墨分五色」,黃冑不僅做到如此,亦能做到「墨分肌理」,不愧為善用筆墨之大家。
    「平生歷盡坎坷路,不向人間訴不平」,黃冑常以此句題寫在其毛驢創作中,但這又何嘗不是其人生道路的寫照和信條。經歷抗日,遭遇文革,甚至被關牛棚,與驢為伍,這些都不能將其壓倒,反而磨練了藝術家奮進、堅韌的性格,滋養了其賴以創作的土壤。藝術源於生活而高於生活,正因為這樸素而真實的藝術視角,才有了黃冑筆下源源不斷,生機勃勃的驢群,有了他作品中始終平凡卻令人感動的藝術形象,更有了他歌頌勞動、熱愛生活的赤子之心。
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