Lot 456
  • 456

Lee Man Fong

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  • Lee Man Fong
  • Kampung (Village)
  • Signed and stamped with two seals of the artist
  • Oil on wood
  • 100 by 200 cm.; 39 1/4 by 78 3/4 in.
  • Executed CIRCA 1960s. This work is accompanied with the artist's orginal frame.


Acquired direclty from the artist
Private Collection, USA
Private Collection, Singapore


The painting is in good condition overall, the wood is free from warping. Indication of light wear and handling is evident around the edges of the painting, but the paint layers are well-preserved. Any inconsistency is inherent to the artist's working method. Upon close observation, a gentle abrasion is visible above the signature. Under ultraviolet light inspection reveals pin-sized spots of restoration scattered predominantly on the sky. The work is accompanied with the artist's original frame. Framed.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.

Catalogue Note

Lee Man Fong’s paintings of the Indonesian landscape, and local culture and traditions, are highly regarded for their artistic significance in the emergence of the country’s modern art movement. Though he was born in China, and moved as a young child to Singapore, it was the artist’s relocation to Java in the thirties that influenced his visual language, and established his creative legacy. Lee Man Fong’s oeuvre is reflective of his Chinese ancestry, for the works reference the techniques, and cultural aesthetics, that are imbedded in classical Chinese painting. The work Kampung (Village) is demonstrative of the themes and imagery that the artist cultivated during his lifetime, which are now celebrated as the hallmarks of Lee Man Fong’s artistic vision.  

Well known for his expansive landscape paintings, the present work is a depiction of a Javanese village scene, with the artist paying homage to rural life.  Within the painting, Lee Man Fong provides a detailed study of a culture that was foreign to him, and has presented it as a universal portrayal of human relationships. People were a popular motif throughout his oeuvre, and Lee Man Fong often depicted them either alone in activities, or like Kampung (Village), colourful narratives that shared with the audience an intimate look into a country that may not be their own.

Lee Man Fong’s distinct painting style is evident in the present work. A pairing of traditional Chinese aesthetics, with delicate brushstrokes and a refined colour palette, the artist succeeds in capturing the quiet existence of the pastoral scene. Lee Man Fong expanded his creative language with his portrayals of the natural environment. Kampung (Village) alludes to the relationship that the artist had with nature, for the painting is ultimately a celebration of Java's rich foliage and wild life. Within in the scene there are a few villagers visible, further emphasizing the artist’s desire to draw attention to the natural beauty of the island.

It should be noted that the artist’s want to concentrate on village life, and the topography of the island, were not merely to beautify the paintings. Residing in Indonesia during the mid-forties provided Lee Man Fong with an intimate look at the political transitions that were taking a hold of the country during this period in history. A watchful bystander to the emergence of nationalist groups such as the Indonesian Drawing Masters Association (otherwise known as the Persagi), who sought independence from Dutch colonialist rule, Lee Man Fong’s many depictions of pastoral narratives may be a reference to the harmony that he hoped would return to the country.

Throughout his lifetime, Lee Man Fong expressed a desire to portray the Indonesian countryside, and the local people within a certain paradigm. Kampung (Village) perfectly exemplifies the artist’s understanding of these principles. Throughout the paintings he remains faithful to his goal of inspiring a universal respect for human friendships, and an appreciation towards the natural world.