QI BAISHI (1863 - 1957)
QI BAISHI (1863 - 1957)

QI BAISHI (1863 - 1957)
Scroll, mounted and framed, cinnabar on paper
185 x 53 cm. (72 3/4 x 20 3/4 in.)
Inscribed and signed, with one seal of the artist
Dated twenty-first day, twelfth year (of the Republic, 1923)
Dedicated to General Li Yuanhong
Further inscribed by Xia Shoutian (1870-1935), with four seals of the artist

Bamboo was dedicated to General Li Yuanhong for his birthday. A native of Hubei, Li graduated from the Tianjin Naval Academy and served in the Navy of the Northern Seas. After the First Sino-Japanese War, he joined forces with the Viceroy of Hugang Zhang Zhidong, rising up the ranks to become commander of the 21st Order of the New Army. With the establishment of the Republic of China, he became Vice-president of the Republic of China, and then President of the Republic of China in 1922. He passed away in Tianjin in 1928.

Xia Shoutian (1870-1935), a native of Hunan, took the civil examinations in the twenty-fourth year of Emperor Guangxu's rule (1898), and was a skilled calligrapher and seal-carver. In the third year of Emperor Xuantong's rule (1911) he was invited into court.

In the first year of the Republic of China (1912), he became minister of Hubei and became Internal minister to the President. After Yuan Shikai proclaimed himself as emperor and their subsequent overthrow, Xia fled to Tianjin and became secretary to Cao Kun. Xia, whose mentor was Wang Kaiyun, was well read, well educated and skilled in seal carving, and was friends with Qi Baishi. During Qi's time in Beijing, it was thanks to Xia that he was allowed to meet Cao Kun.

The inscription by Xia delineates the many virtues of the bamboo. Su Shi spoke of the bamboo: "One can live without meat, but cannot live without bamboo; without meat one grows thin, without bamboo man's life loses integrity; man can become fat again, but integrity cannot be regained." It has been said that there was an occasion when Su was in Hangzhou, he was suddenly inspired to paint at court and yet there was no ink and brush by his side, only cinnabar, so he used the cinnabar to paint bamboo. Later he was challenged that bamboo was not red in colour, and his reply was "There is no black bamboo on earth, yet it is fine to paint bamboo with black ink, if so, why not with cinnabar?" Red bamboo is a subject matter that Qi rarely explores, and was most likely that he did so due to the fact that it was a birthday present.
The owner of the Lu Fang Ge Collection first began his business in Beijing in the 80's, where he met by chance Qi Gong, Huang Wei, Dong Shoupin and Fan Zeng, who became his mentors and ignited his passion towards Chinese painting and calligraphy. Over thirty years of collecting the Lu Fang Ge Collection became a repository for precious and rare paintings-the fifty-two paintings presented here are a combination of both classical and modern paintings that encompass a broad period of Chinese art and culture. Many of these works were purchased through auction many years ago with enviable provenance and will add strength to any collection.
In the modern paintings section Xu Beihong's The Three Stallions is an amalgamation of Western and Eastern painting techniques, using mainly Chinese brushwork to paint the physique of the horse, while using watercolour methods to depict the grass and the background. It is also particularly rare as it comes from the collection of Huang Junbi and was exhibited in Taiwan multiple times, as well as being published in Japan. Furthermore Qi Baishi's Bamboo, Spring Fun, as well as Zhang Daqian's early work Blue and Green Landscape are also rare masterpieces from the collection.
The Lu Fang Ge Collection contains many paintings from prominent artists in the Ming dynasty, such as Shen Zhou's Cooling in a Bamboo Grove, Wen Zhenming's Poetry in Cursive Script (catalogued in the Shiqu Baoji), Wen Dian's Studying in a Village by a River, Lu Zhi's NarcissusM and landscapes albums by Lan Ying. In particular, Dong Qichang's Five Sacred Mountains, previously in the collection of Luo Zhenyu, was exhibited at the Tokyo National Museum in 1928. The Lu Fang Ge Collection also contains a strong collection of paintings from the Qing dynasty, such as Palace under Moonlight, Fu Shan's calligraphy and Leng Mei's The Young Hercules, with up to fifty-three commendations of the piece by members of the palace and generals.