- Lin Fengmian
- Chinese Opera Figures: Heroines of the Yangs - Mu Guiying Taking Command
- oil on canvas
- 51 by 40.5 cm.; 20 by 16 in.
executed circa 1960s
Acquired directly from the artist in the 1960s
Thence by descent to the present owner
Message from Monsieur and Madame HELLE about their acquaintance with Lin Fengmian in the early 1960s in China:
Though we were very enthusiastic about coming to the People's Republic of China, we are nevertheless isolated, because of our lack of understanding of the language. We have a Chinese language teacher and a tutor who teaches us watercolours; for it is said that paintings are universal; art is also a tremendous means of communication and unification.
Our first visit to Lin Fengmian was suggested by friends who had lived in Shanghai for several years and deeply loved this country. It was a true revelation. Lin spoke not only through his artist's palette, but also through his knowledge of France and the French language. We were regularly welcomed to his modest two-room apartment which was situated at 53 Nanchang Road in Shanghai. One by one the painter let us contemplate his works. What a tiny privilege to be able to enjoy, in such intimacy, their light, their particular atmosphere and the sensation of well-being that penetrates us.
We needed to have some at home too and for several years we experienced moments of "te - i" in our house thanks to Lin Fengmian.
This quiet and discreet artist does not go out much.
Lin Fengmian one day did me the favour, of spreading a line of colour over a large surface of paper, in a broad and swift gesture.
He liked speaking about his years in Bourgogne and Paris. He also liked having the opportunity, when visiting Italian friends, to go through their magazines, freshly arrived from Italy, in which beautiful models displayed the latest fashions.
When invited to stay outside of Shanghai, he began to paint plates but was not able to earn a living from it.
At the end of our stay, Lin Fengmian let me purchase oil paintings, illustrating Chinese legends and the Beijing opera. It was to be our last visit. He was a little agitated and impatient to see his family who had been detained in Brazil.
HEROINES OF THE YANGS – MU GUIYING TAKING COMMAND
Mu Guiying is one of the Yang's female warriors. She is the wife of Yang Zhongbao, Yang Ye's grandson. She successfully led twelve widows to conquer the West – Xixia was defeated and was submitted to the emperor. Moreover, she suppressed the rebellion in the South and was awarded by the emperor.