After the fall of the Qing dynasty, imperial orders for porcelain dwindled at Jingdezhen, the main porcelain production center of China. Porcelain artists, released from Imperial restraints, and eager to develop new markets, developed new styles. In 1928 eight of the leading artists formed a group, calling it Yueman hui
(Full Moon Society) because they met to exchange ideas about art during the full moon. Wang Qi was the founding member of this group, which because it had eight members later came to be known as Zhushan Bayou
(Eight Friends of Zhushan).
The development of Wang Qi's mature style can be traced to a trip he made to Shanghai in 1916 to see an exhibition of works by a group of painters called Yangzhou Baguai
(the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou). Wang was so impressed by the paintings of Huang Shen, one of the Eight Eccentrics that he started to emulate Huang's style. This influence can be seen in the present lot with his use of rapid and expressionistic brush strokes to create whimsical, exaggerated figures with sparse backgrounds juxtaposed with long calligraphic inscriptions in running script, similar to examples of Huang's works illustrated in Yangzhou Bajia Huaji
, Tianjin, 1995, nos. 75, 59, 64, 71-76 and 78.
Not content to just emulate Huang's style, Wang created his own by incorporating Western techniques in his work. This is seen in the use of light and shading on faces and clothing of the immortals in the present lot where realism and impressionism are harmoniously blended.
One example of a plaque by Wang Qi was sold in these rooms 19th and 20th March 2013, lot 249, and another at Christie's South Kensington, 16th May 2014, lot 1243. A pair depicting louhans was sold at Bonhams San Francisco, 17th December 2013, lot 8353. Other examples are illustrated in Simon Kwan, Chinese Porcelain of the Republic Period, Hong Kong, 2008, pp. 104-122.