YU FEI'AN (1888-1959)
YU FEI'AN (1888-1959)

Flowers of Four Seasons

43.8 x 205 cm. (17 1⁄4 x 81 3⁄4 in.)
Christie’s Hong Kong, Fine Chinese Modern Paintings, 1 December 2015, Lot 1491.
The owner of Feng Wen Tang was a visionary collector with a curious and excited mind. The collector received a progressive and open-minded education and was encouraged to discover art at an early age. She first encountered a reproduction of a Qi Baishi painting at a bookstore when she was in high school. Since then, she began a lifelong journey for her love of Chinese paintings, particularly for Qi Baishi. For over three decades, the collector assembled a spectacular collection of 20th-century Chinese ink paintings, with a strong focus on some of the best Qi Baishi paintings the market has ever seen. Many of these works were from the private collection of the artist Hu Peiheng (1892-1965), one of Qi’s closest friends; many were published by Hu in authoritative catalogues of the artist as early as in the late 1950s, soon after the artist passing.
The collector once said a master painter “(He) must possess some exceptional qualities. Apart from having brilliant technique, he must be able to observe everything and the richness of the life experiences.” Such is the passion and simple excitement she witnessed when seeing a masterpiece by Qi Baishi, known for his insightful, down-to-earth painting of his rustic and humble life. It is the wish of the collector that art-lovers will understand more deeply the significant role Qi Baishi played in Chinese art history.
Please note below material should be “ink and colour on silk”


Carmen Shek Cerne (石嘉雯)
Carmen Shek Cerne (石嘉雯) Vice President, Head of Department, Chinese Paintings


The present lot is a rare example of Yu Fei’an work in a long scroll format. It depicts flowers from four seasons alongside each other to form an exceptional composition - peonies and bees in the spring, lotus and dragonflies in the summer, hibiscus, birds and butterflies in the autumn, and white plum blossoms in the winter.
After 1949, Yu experienced drastic changes as he took up official positions at the Central Academy of Fine Art and the Beijing Painting Institute. As he dedicated himself to art administration for his country and painting, he found a renewed motivation to devote himself to perfecting his fine brush flower-and-bird painting. During this time, he participated in many national art projects, in which he instilled new spirits in his art, with a brighter palette and newfound strengths in his expressions. The present lot, painted in 1957, is a classic composition of Yu’s post-1949 vibrant creations.
This work also witnesses Yu’s hard work and perseverance in his art practice and research. He inscribed on the painting that “I am not entirely satisfied with the work I painted last year. In this attempt, there is still room for improvement in specific areas for the next time.” While there is no certainty whether the version next year (1956) existed or the whereabouts if it does exist, one can appreciate his insistence in perfecting his art. Literary giant Lao She spoke of the artist as “he is not afraid of hardship because he will find a solution no matter how hard it is. He would paint the most difficult compositions. This is true creativity.”

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