Lot 1002
  • 1002

Pan Yuliang

5,000,000 - 8,000,000 HKD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Pan Yuliang
  • Reclining Nude
  • signed in Chinese, dated 57 and stamped with the artist's seal
  • ink and colour on paper
de Sarthe Gallery, Hong Kong label affixed to the reverse


Important Private Asian Collection


Taipei, National Museum of History, The Art of Pan Yu-Lin, 1995, pl. 115, p. 118
Hong Kong, de Sarthe Gallery, Pioneers of Modern Chinese Painting in Paris, 13 May - 21 June 2014, p. 31


This work is in very good condition. There is slight, general foxing across the surface, predominantly on the body and thigh of the nude and the upper left and right area.
"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

The Spirit of Montparnasse

Pan Yuliang’s Reclining Nude

As a Chinese woman, my entire life has been a fight for love and for ideas, for living with confidence as a woman.

Pan Yuliang

The twentieth century was the era of women’s liberation, with countless brilliant women rising together as a force to be reckoned with, leaving their own glorious imprints on a cultural arena in a challenge to the male hegemony. In Paris, Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex pushed the women’s movement to new heights. And in the areas of Montmartre and Montparnasse, where painters convened in flocks, there appeared a group of women who could more than hold their own among the men. These formidable women included Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Suzanne Valadon, and Marie Laurencin. In pursuit of both individual and artistic freedom, Pan travelled twice to Paris, finally settling down there, on foreign soil. Whether in bravery or in talent, Pan occupies the top position among Chinese female artists. Reclining Nude (Lot1002) is a painting completed at a time when the artist had already attained artistic maturity. In the 1950s, the artist engaged deeply in studying Western classical and contemporary art, borrowing techniques to then modify and innovate upon Chinese traditional painting. Using ink and colour, the artist developed a remarkable and singular style. Through the praise of a woman’s body, subtle and manifold elements of Eastern charm are conveyed through the painting.

Interweaving Ink and Colour, East and West in Synchrony

Reclining Nude portrays a nude woman, reclining on a bed with embroidered sheets. The beauty in the painting is utterly naked, with only a towel half-draped across her thighs. It is likely that she has just finished bathing; her cheeks are flushed pink, one hand clutching the pillow behind her head, her eyes closed in a state of repose. The viewer has seemingly caught her just as she has lied down, ready to take a nap. To decorate the scene, the artist has deliberately arranged a striking leopard print pad underneath our lady, a choice that harmonizes with her liberated body language, faintly conveying the woman’s straightforward temperament, a personality brimming with life.

The style of Reclining Nude is a blend of East and West. The accurate portrayal of the human figure clearly has its roots in Western sketching. The calligraphic lines outlining the pliant silhouette, on the other hand, belong to the tradition of Chinese ‘line drawing’. The half-abstract background is infused with the effect of ‘leaving blank’, another traditional Chinese concept. The blank space allows the viewer to exercise his or her imagination; in this case, the bed underneath the woman appears almost infinitely wide, allowing her to toss about as she pleases, falling into a sweet slumber. In the exquisite scene, the criss-crossing powder blue and pink strokes, in addition to being rich with the spirit of calligraphy, also invoke Fauvist master Matisse’s style and his fascination with cloth patterns, and creates within the space a texture of embroidered silk. As Anhui Provincial Museum of Art Curator Hu Xinmin said, “Pan Yuliang has successfully fused together the spirit of Chinese ink-wash painting and Western techniques in creating texture, revealing a personal aesthetic that is both elegant and agile, yet solid and full. In terms of composition, she invokes the Chinese concept of ‘leaving blank’, yet fills that ‘blank space’ with dotted and crisscrossing brushstrokes, cleverly blending East and West.”

Multitudes of Expressions and Thoughts

The subject of the female – in particular the nude female body – was very important to Pan. Of her existing paintings, over half feature the nude female body as subjects. Pan, by the time this painting was created, had given up her teaching post, not only because she was disgruntled with the conservativism of society and the obstacles it created for her, but her continued creation of paintings of nude women during her years in Paris were primarily owing to a principled and insistent attitude toward art. Under Pan’s brush, the portrayals of nude women are manifold, never departing from a celebration of the natural beauty of the human figure, but more importantly, they express through the vehicle of the nude body an honesty toward life and feeling. The women are depicted with surging vitality – some are in a state of leisure, some are lost in reverie, and others are caught in self-pity; some are shown frolicking in the beach, others are longing for romantic love, while yet others are exhibiting maternal love. Together, this panoply comes together as a unified, complete series. The woman in Reclining Nude is relaxed, her cheeks rosy, seemingly half-dazed, as if about to enter the world of dreams. Through this realistic scene, the viewer is drawn into the abstract world of thoughts, with undertones that may be of romance and longing, or a hopefulness toward life. The artist leaves it ambiguous, allowing the viewer ample room for personal interpretation.