Lot 902
  • 902

Chen Danqing

1,500,000 - 2,000,000 HKD
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  • Chen Danqing
  • Two Young Shepherds
  • oil on canvas
signed and dated 1986


Grand Central Art Galleries, Inc., New York
Private Collection, Connecticut


This work is in very good condition overall. Areas of faint craquelure are observed scattered occasionally over the section of the sky, consistent with the age of the work. Minor signs of abrasion observed along the top left edge of the work. Upon close examination, minor paint loss is observed located 35 cm from the right and 35 cm from the bottom. A pinpoint pigment loss is observed located on the right edge 60 cm up from the bottom right corner of the work. There is a minor chip on the upper right of the frame. No evidence of restoration observed when examined under ultraviolet light. 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

Chen Danqing is one of the most influential painters in Chinese Contemporary Art history. He is best known for his Tibetan series, created for his graduation exhibition at the China Central Academy of Fine Arts in 1980. Chen first visited Tibet in 1976 and painted Harvest Fields Flooded by Tears which secured him early recognition. It foretold his growing interest in Tibetan life and people leading to his second visit to Tibet as well as the later creation of the Tibetan paintings. The series is deemed ground-breaking due to its lack of Heroism, Soviet influence and Socialist iconography - elements that had been saturating art created during the Cultural Revolution. Its most well-known seven canvases sought nothing more than sincere and realistic depictions of Tibetan daily lives and surroundings. During his stay in Tibet, Chen had produced numerous life-drawings and sketches, many of which have not yet been realised in the form of paintings. For example, there are over twenty similar drawings in composition to Walking into Town alone. Therefore, the artist would accumulated plenty visual sources accumulated to sustain his continue exploration of the same subject even after he left China for New York in 1982.

The current work, painted in 1986, is one great example. It is reminiscent of the iconic Shepherds in his Tibetan series; however, instead of being presented as a couple frolicking in the fields, the young shepherds are enjoying a comfortable silence during their leisure time. The serenity of the scene seeps through the artist's warm rich palette and short square-like brushwork. Chen took an interest in painting at a young age, constantly making studies of works by great Western Masters to improve his technique. His style of depiction, as well as his choice of subject matter, reflect the influence of an earlier art movement in France known as Realism. Chen was particularly influenced by the works of the Realist painter Jean-François Millet, who was amongst the sixty artists exhibited in the 'Exhibition of French Rural Landscape Paintings from the 19th Century' in National Art Museum of China in 1978. Rejecting academic idealisation in depiction, grand narratives, and Romanticism, and opting instead for the honest portrayal of ordinary, everyday subjects was extremely eye-opening for Chinese artists at the time. It is, therefore, unsurprising that when Chen commented on his Kamba Man from the Tibetan series, he emphasised the Tibetans' expressions and physiques as the perfect artistic vocabulary; that they are paintings in their own right by merely standing. By integrating influence of Western aesthetics with Chinese ethnic culture, Millet's ideology of 'treating the commonplace with the feeling of the sublime gives to art its true power' is manifested in chromatic brilliance in Chen's paintings (Josephine M. Blanch, Art and Progress, vol. 5, no. 11, p.387).