Lot 505
  • 505

Sanyu (Chang Yu)

280,000 - 380,000 HKD
750,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Sanyu (Chang Yu)
  • Nude
  • ink and watercolour on paper
  • 44.8 by 27.3 cm. 17 5/8 by 10 3/4 in.
signed in pinyin and Chinese.


Private Asian Collection

Catalogue Note

Born in 1901 to a prominent Sichuan family of textile merchants, Sanyu enjoyed a privileged upbringing. He studied ink painting from age 13 onwards and calligraphy with the renowned calligraphy Zhao Xi, demonstrating extraordinary gift. In 1921, he went to France as a "work-study" student under Cai Yuanpei's programme. The young Sanyu was drawn instead to liberal and urbane Montmarte, where he also chose to reside. Sanyu studied at La Grande Chaumiere, an unofficial art school where artists could sketch from nude models. Radically different from culturally conservative China, the Monmarte milieu proved tremendously stimulating and inspiring to Sanyu, who freely explored a variety of painting subjects, including nudes, still lives, and animals. Combining the brushwork, inkwork, and xieyi (freehand or literally "sketch-conceptualist") aesthetics of East Asian ink painting with the iconoclastic boldness of Western modernism, Sanyu developed his own highly-refined minimalist style. As his good friend Johan Franco, a French composer, once said that "Sanyu knows how to use the most concise way to draw out the essence and humour of things. His paintings are imbued with the special characteristics of his own ethnicity."