Lot 393
  • 393


600,000 - 900,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Lee Man Fong
  • Weaver
  • Signed and stamped with the seal of the artist
  • Oil on masonite board
  • 102 by 60 cm; 40 by 23 1/2  in.


Sotheby's Hong Kong, 7 October 2012, Lot 340
Acquired from the above sale by the present owner
Private Collection, Singapore

Catalogue Note

Captivated by the beauty of the indigenous people and culture of Indonesia, Lee Man Fong moved to the island nation in 1932 and spent most of his life in Bali. The artist’s paintings dedicated to Bali can be seen as a collective study of the archipelago, sharing insight into the mores from a sociological and foreign perspective. Women were a staple in his opus, and he remained faithful to certain subject matter throughout his career. Lee Man Fong was particularly interested in village life, painting the women at work and conducting their quotidian, domestic routines. As a result, a large part of Lee Man Fong’s prolific oeuvre was an ode to the island through striking illustrations of the everyday. The present lot is a small vignette of village life, celebrating the weaver, one of the artist’s favored subjects. The artist elevates her status by depicting her with a sense of femininity and beauty. Her posture, poised and graceful, is a mark of her sophistication. Her hands are nimble and delicate, despite the laborious nature of her work. With downcast eyes, the maiden is engrossed in her circadian task and oblivious to the artist’s gaze. Quietly going about her routine, she bears a serene expression on her face and smiles contentedly.

Inspired by his travels and studies in Europe prior to settling in Indonesia, Lee was particularly influenced by Dutch artist, Rembrandt and his employment of light and shade. As demonstrated in the present lot, Lee adopted the careful application of shading and manipulation of light to capture the sinuous contours and curvatures of the human figure and the objects around her. In particular, he paints the woman in a backlit environment. She casts a shadow before her, permeating the work with a sense of depth.

However, the artist formulated his own, unique technique by handling the Western medium of oil paint with the delicacy embodied by Chinese ink painters. As a result, he conjures a dreamlike translucency to the oil painting. It is evident that Lee continued to pay tribute to his Chinese roots through stylistic choices. The use of the elongated vertical orientation is strongly characteristic of Chinese paintings, as well as the fleeting inclusion of a thin tree branch that appears from the edge of the work, balancing the negative space behind the figure.