The UCCL Collection of 20th Century Chinese Paintings

倫敦英國高校中國委員會 (UCCL)
施福

作為專注教育撥款的慈善基金會,倫敦英國高校中國委員會(下稱UCCL)成立於一九二五年,並於一九三二年由皇家特許狀(註1)正式認證。 基金會成立的初衷是為照拂負笈倫敦的中國留學生,現今則致力於資助「中英雙邊學術交流」以及「在英國本土推動聚焦中國的學術研究」。 UCCL透過「英中教育基金會」(GBCET)旗下的「中國學生獎學金」,以慈善基金的方式資助中國學生留學英國期間的費用。
UCCL本身亦設有專門獎項以資助參與中英兩國高等學術交流的個人,獲得獎學金資助的個人包括尋求赴英學術訪問機會的中國學者;以及在英國高校中以中國為研究或修習課題、並因特定研究和講學原因需要訪問中國的學者。除贊助英中教育基金會以外,UCCL還資助在英國舉行的學術會議、以及推廣中文教育和其它中國研究項目。 UCCL亦是「英國中國圖書館集團」的主要贊助人,通過該集團,UCCL為英國眾多高校提供中文電子期刊。

UCCL珍藏二十世紀中國繪畫

源起
此次UCCL委託香港邦瀚斯拍賣的十一幅精美畫作,乃基金會上世紀五十年代於倫敦直接得自藝術家送贈,這批畫作自此完好地保存於英國,但卻鮮為人知。
儘管UCCL沒有完整記錄,但這批畫作應該是透過彼時旅居倫敦的華人吳藹宸博士從中接洽,畫作經他手送呈UCCL,「以表謝意」。
吳藹宸(1891-1965),祖籍福建,清末奏獎舉人,先後就讀於京師大學堂和北京大學採礦工程專業。曾在民國政府擔任多種職務,三十年代初獲派出任新疆特使。一九三六年起先後派駐布拉格以及海參崴。越兩年去職,入倫敦大學攻讀「國際法」和「國際關係」專業。 一九四五年,吳藹宸再次受聘,出任民國政府外交部顧問,直至四九年,他辭職返回倫敦大學繼續修讀博士。次年七月,吳藹宸獲頒哲學博士學位,並於同年出版《中國與蘇聯》一書。
據載,吳藹宸旅英期間,常年自北京運送中國藝術品到英國出售。儘管西方對中國藝術品的熱情在中華人民共和國建立後有所減退,但倫敦的拍賣記錄則顯示,二戰後中國藝術品的需求仍呈不斷增長態勢。吳博士約於一九五七年返回北京,蓋當年他出任歐美同學會總幹事一職,並於翌年獲聘為中央文史館館員。吳博士一九六五年在中國辭世,享年七十四歲。

畫作
細審這批作品,發現有幾位畫家背景相同——他們都是二十世紀書畫大家徐悲鴻(1895-1953)的高足。在徐悲鴻出任中國頂尖藝術院校——北京中央美術學院——院長前,他選派了幾位拔尖的學生前往倫敦深造,以拓寬他們的視野。一九四〇年代後期的中國,時值內戰,年輕藝術家在國內發展的機會銳減。一九四六年,徐氏選派到倫敦進修的四名學生很可能便是UCCL資助的。遊學結束後,陳曉南和張安治於一九五〇年返回中國,而張蒨英和費成武則由此定居倫敦。
在倫敦期間,這些年輕藝術家「曾得到委員會(UCCL)的照顧,因而他們在返回中國或台灣前,將(這些作品)贈予委員會以表謝意」 (引自歐文•拉蒂莫爾教授一九六八年七月十二日至利茲大學副校長的信件,此信不曾發表;本輯每件拍品將隨贈該信複印件一份。)

吳博士與這批畫作的確切關係尚不明確,但他在倫敦或許亦曾參與照顧這幾位海外遊子,他可能還參與組織了一九五〇年為這批作品在當地舉行的小型展覽。
彼時,UCCL通常在由其管理的中國協/學會召集會議,協會當時為在倫敦的中國留學生(通常囊中羞澀)提供了文化家園和放鬆休閒的場所。中國協會於五十年代中期關閉,這批畫作旋即低調地借展予倫敦佛教協會。倫敦佛教協會位於倫敦皮姆利科區埃克爾斯頓廣場一座由托馬斯•丘比特(1788-1855)設計的大型聯排屋,其中一間小辦公室供UCCL使用。一九六七、六八年間,UCCL決定停用該辦公室,為這批畫作覓得新的展陳空間便成為當務之急。最終,UCCL愉快地接受了其成員拉蒂莫爾教授的提議,將這批畫作以永久借展的形式展陳於其任職的利大學中國研究系。
自一九六八年夏天到二O二O 年一月,這批畫作一直公開展示於利茲大學。每幅作品都配有畫框,因保管得宜,數十年光陰荏苒,畫作上卻幾乎見不到歲月的痕跡。
這一珍藏訴說著一段塵封的往事; 亦打開一扇引人入勝的窗口,令人窺見利他精神的美好。因著悲鴻的啟發與指導,這幾位青年畫家得以遠渡重洋,到西方追尋他們的藝術夢。儘管戰後的倫敦,飽受創傷,在大空襲與戰時配給中劫後餘生,正自努力重建,畫家們卻發現,百廢待興的倫敦藝術界,已張開雙臂歡迎著來自世界另一端一貧如洗的他們。

註1:皇家特許狀,或稱皇家憲章,乃英國君主簽發的正式文書。其歷史可追溯至十三世紀,經樞密院建議而設置,初衷乃為確立公立及私營機構(包括城鎮)的特權與義務。此後,皇家特許狀亦頒予具備專業獨特性與不可取代地位的專業以及慈善團體。英格蘭、威爾士及北愛爾蘭多所古老的大學,以及英屬東印度公司、渣打銀行、英國廣播公司等皆為皇家特許狀認證機構。

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The "Universities' China Committee in London" (UCCL)

Colin Sheaf

UCCL is an educational grant-giving charitable trust established in 1925, and formalized by Royal Charter in 1932. Originally founded to provide hospitality for Chinese Students in London, its mission is now to provide for "two-way flow of academic exchange between China and the UK", and "the encouragement of China-focused studies in the UK". The UCCL contributes towards The Great Britain-China Educational Trust (GBCET) Chinese Student Awards, which is a charitable fund supporting Chinese students' costs of study in the UK.

The UCCL administers its own awards in support of individuals involved in higher level UK-China academic exchange: recipients are "Chinese scholars who seek to make research visits to the UK or UK-based scholars working on, or studying, China-focussed subjects at UK Universities who need to conduct visits to China for specific research or lecture reasons". In addition to the GBCET, the UCCL supports "academic conferences and the promotion and teaching of Chinese and other Chinese studies in the UK". It is a major supporter of the UK China Library Group, through which it helps provide Chinese language e-journals to Universities in the UK.

The UCCL Collection of 20th Century Chinese Paintings

The Origins

The 11 very interesting paintings being offered by the UCCL at Bonhams, Hong Kong were acquired in London around 1950, apparently directly as gifts to the UCCL from the artists themselves, and preserved intact but largely unknown in the UK ever since.

Although records at the UCCL are incomplete, it appears that this group of paintings was assembled and presented to the UCCL under the auspices of a Chinese national based in London, Dr Ai(t)chen K Wu, "as an expression of gratitude".

Wu Aichen (1891-1965), a native of Fujian Province, passed the provincial examinations in the very last years of the Qing Dynasty, and studied at Beijing Normal University and Beijing University, majoring of Mine Engineering. He served in various posts in the Republican administrations and in the early 1930's he was posted as Special Envoy for the Nationalist government to Xinjiang Province. He subsequently served in the foreign service in Prague and Vladivostok in 1936, and then resigned in 1938 and enrolled into the University of London, majoring in International Law and International Relations. He again acted as a consultant to the Chinese Foreign Affairs Ministry in 1945, from which he resigned in 1949 to return to London to finish his PHD. He received his Doctor of Philosophy degree in July 1950, and his book titled China and Soviet Union was published the same year.

He is recorded as having, for some years, sold in Britain Chinese works of art originating in Beijing. London auction records suggest there was an increasing demand at the end of the Second World War for these, even though the establishment of the People's Republic of China subsequently dampened Western enthusiasm for such works. Dr Wu probably returned to Beijing in 1957 as he was appointed to be the Secretary-General of European and American Students Union, as well as becoming an honored member of the Central Research Institute of Culture and History in 1958. He died in China at the age of 74 in 1965.

The Paintings

Investigation of the authorship of the paintings suggests one common theme, that the artists included some of the best students of the important 20th century Chinese artist Xu Beihong (1895-1953), who was to be appointed President of China's most distinguished art college, the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing. It seems most likely that Xu Beihong selected some of of his top students to go to London for further teaching to broaden their horizons, since opportunities for trainee artists were drastically reduced in China during Civil War in China in the late 1940s. The four students Xu Beihong sent to London in 1946 were most probably funded by the UCCL. At the end of their training period in London, Chen Xiaonan and Zhang Anzhi returned to China in 1950. Zhang Qianying and Fei Chengwu on the other hand decided to stay and settle in London.

While in London, these young artists were "looked after for some time by the Committee (of the UCCL) before their return to China or Taiwan, and (the paintings) were presented to the Committee as a token of gratitude for hospitality received" (unpublished letter from Professor Owen Lattimore to the Vice Chancellor of Leeds University, dated 12 July 1968; a photocopy is offered with each lot in this consignment).

The exact role of Dr Wu in relation to these paintings in London is not clear, but he may have been involved in the London arrangements for looking after these overseas students. He may also have involved in arranging the small exhibition in London of these paintings which apparently took place in 1950.
At the time, the UCCL held its Committee meetings in the China Institute, which it managed and which provided a cultural home and place of relaxation for (often impecunious) Chinese students in London. When this was closed in the mid-1950s, the pictures were loaned to the London Buddhist Society, then (and still) housed inconspicuously in a large Cubitt-designed terrace house in Eccleston Square, Pimlico and where the UCCL had been given use of a single-room office. When the UCCL decided to cease using this small office in 1967/68, a new home for the exhibition was sought and the Committee accepted the offer from one of its members, Professor Lattimore, that the paintings might be deposited on permanent loan to be hung in his Department of Chinese Studies at the University of Leeds. The offer was accepted warmly.
The paintings have remained on loan and on public display at the University of Leeds from Summer 1968 until January 2020. All being framed and carefully maintained, there has been minimal physical deterioration, even though they have been exposed to natural light during this period.

The Collection represents a sealed capsule; a fascinating window into an altruistic world, when students gravitated to the West to pursue their artistic interests under the inspiring tutelage of Xu Beihong. Although their destination was a war-damaged London, still recovering from the Blitz and wartime rationing, they found, nevertheless, an environment ready and willing to welcome impoverished students from the other side of the world into their own equally impoverished artistic communities.

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