Lot 1016
  • 1016

GUAN LIANG | Tree and bridge

500,000 - 800,000 HKD
Log in to view results
bidding is closed


  • Guan Liang
  • Tree and bridge
  • oil on board
  • 24.2 by 33 cm; 9 ½ by 13 in. 
executed in 1957


Christie's, Hong Kong, 25 May 2008, Lot 253
Acquired directly from the above by the present important private Asian collector 


Artist's Publishing, ed., Guan Liang, Boya Art, Hong Kong, 1981, plate 34
Guan Liang, 
Sichuan People's Publishing House, Chengdu, 1982, plate 32 
Xue Jianhua, ed., Guan Liang, People's Fine Arts Publishing House, Shanghai, 2009, p. 49
Beijing Fine Art Academy, ed., Gao Miao Chuan Shen: The Research of Guan Liang's Paintings, Guangxi Fine Arts Publishing House, Nanning, 2015, p. 21


The work is overall in good condition. Examination under UV light reveals a few very tiny spots of retouching near the centre and top edge.
"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

Sotheby’s presents selected works of Guan Liang from an important Asian private collection, continuing last year’s in-depth exploration of the artist’s work. In subject matter, concept, and technique, these four rare oil paintings from the 1950s to the 1970s embody the unique style of Guan’s mature period. Guan Liang travelled widely, transforming dazzling Chinese landscapes into the subjects of his creative work. He created a series of excellent landscape paintings, each with a different kind of scenery. He delved deep into scenes of life in China in his time. Guan excelled at figure painting, and famed Peking opera actor Gai Jiaotian once praised the vividness of the painter’s opera figures. Guan employed an indirect approach, depicting performers at unconventional moments to suggest movement. The works shown here centre on landscapes and life, but the approach reflects Guan Liang’s innovations and sensitivity to setting the stage. His compositions were inventive. The brushwork, which appear clumsy at first glance, belie the artist’s ingenuity. These paintings are as brilliant as his other images of stage performers in this sale, leaving something for viewers to savour. A German Travel Diary: Building a Bridge of Friendship between China and East Germany

In 1957, China and East Germany signed a cultural exchange agreement. East Berlin held a large-scale exhibition of Chinese art, and China sent a delegation of two professors, Guan Liang and Li Keran, to attend the opening. Before this exchange, Guan had never set foot outside of Asia, and it a stroke of luck that allowed him to make his first visit to Europe. This was not just a matter of national honour; it was the realization of a long-cherished dream. When he mentioned his trip to East Germany in Guan Liang: A Memoir, he could barely contain his excitement, "I studied Western painting in Tokyo, and I encountered the works of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Manet, Monet, Matisse, and others. When I was young, I hoped that one day I would have the chance to visit and admire the places where these artists worked… I was excited and a bit apprehensive when I set out from Beijing with Li Keran. " The Chinese professors held their own exhibitions during their visit, and local visitors poured in to attend this unprecedented event. The East German side was hospitable, taking the two artists to see local churches and museums. Guan seized the opportunity to make some impromptu oil sketches, recording his impressions of the scenes along the road—Europe seen through the eyes of a stranger. Tree and Bridge (Lot 1016) was created during this time. This is one of Guan’s few surviving oil paintings from this period, and stands as a rare example of his East German Landscape series.

Experiencing a climate, geography, and environment that was decidedly different from his home country, Guan Liang was suddenly gripped with new inspiration. As a result, the palette is bright yet refined, and the brushwork is forceful yet vital. Every stroke reflects the artist’s joy at that time. Guan outlined the forms of the branches on the trees, the bridge over the river, the grass, and the European architecture in black, giving them a sense of volume and creating planes through flat paint application with a broad brush. He accomplished this quickly with practiced brushstrokes, and he brought the spirit of Chinese painting into his work, injecting poetry into the realism. This exquisite work expresses Guan Liang’s deep appreciation for local culture from the perspective of an outsider. Through his work, he built a solid symbolic bridge of friendship between China and East Germany, reflecting his mission as a cultural ambassador. Although the work features a Berlin landscape, every aspect of the painting reveals Guan Liang’s pride as a Chinese painter and represents the historically meaningful equality of Eastern and Western art in the 1950s.