- Lin Fengmian
- Fishing Harvest
- oil on canvas
- 83.3 by 78.5 cm.; 32 3/4 by 30 7/8 in.
executed circa 1950s-60s
Thence by descent to the present owner
Mr. Lorenz Petersen was a former Danish ambassador to China. While living and working in Beijing, Mr. Petersen became acquainted with artist and they soon became good friends. Mr. Petersen left Beijing in 1962, before the start of the Cultural Revolution, carrying with him his prized painting, and returned to Denmark where Fishing Harvest has remained in his family for nearly half a century.
Capturing a festive scene in a fishing village, Lin depicts ten women and children in the midst of a fruitful fishing harvest. It was painted around the late 1950s – early 60s, a time when the artist was encouraged by the newly established Chinese government – The People's Republic of China, to experience the life of a real farmer. This paved the way for a comprehensive series of works inspired by his experiences and accounts of daily life in the rural villages.
In his article "Entering Into a New Era" written in 1959, Lin describes his experience of labour-discipline in rural China in 1958.
"In my personal view, there have been a lot of changes and new realizations in terms of my thoughts and sentiments after participating in the labour-discipline in rural China.
From the rural infrastructure to the Great Leap, the peasants have played a big role in the transformation of my creative intelligence and talent - I was profoundly touched by them.
I believe if an artist continues to isolate himself from the surroundings and from the people, then the works he produce will be meaningless. I lived in a house full of peasants, and we worked together in the labour-reforming. As I was older than the others, and I suffered from stomach ulcer, they took very good care of me and they always worried that I have not eaten enough or worked too hard. I can feel their sincerity and generosity towards others, at the same time their industriousness towards hardship.
If an artist wants to portray peasant's life in his works, then merely to experience new conditions is not enough. Most importantly, he has to apprehend and to be involved with the noble quality of the peasants. Only in this way can he develop genuine emotions in the works, and the level of ideology can also be elevated.
The entire art history in Europe, from Greek to Renaissance in Italy, has established its course with its language. Similarly, we hold our own tradition, style and way of expression. Our folk art retains our distinctive features as well."