Lot 1018
  • 1018

GUAN LIANG | Hangzhou Ling Yin Temple

800,000 - 1,600,000 HKD
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  • Guan Liang
  • Hangzhou Ling Yin Temple
  • signed in Chinese; signed in Chinese on the reverse
  • oil on canvas
  • 40.1 by 32.4 cm; 15 ¾ by 12 ¾ in.
executed in 1950s


Private Asian Collection
ChengXuan Auctions, Beijing, 17 May 2015, Lot 867
Acquired directly from the above by the present important private Asian collector


Taipei, Lin & Keng Gallery, The Exhibition of Guan Liang's Oil Paintings, 16 March - 2 April 1996
Taipei, Lin & Keng Gallery, Guan Liang: 100 Years Retrospective Exhibition, 19 April -14 May 2000


Guan Liang 1900 - 1986, Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, 1996, p.31
Guan Liang: 100 Years Retrospective Exhibition, Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, 2000, p. 42
Wang Xiao, ed., A History of Art in 20th Century China: Guan Liang, Culture and Art Publishing House, Beijing, 2009, p.164
Shanghai Artists Association, ed., Works of Representatives of Shanghai Artists in the Century: Guan Liang, Shanghai Calligraphy and Painting Publishing House, Shanghai, 2013, p. 68
Beijing Fine Art Academy, ed., Gao Miao Chuan Shen: The Research of Guan Liang's Paintings, Guangxi Fine Arts Publishing House, Nanning, 2015, p.196


The work is overall in good condition. Upon close inspection, there are a few fine hairline cracks upon the thick impasto surfaces near the bottom edge. Examination under UV light reveals a few minor signs of retouching along the right edge of the canvas.
"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

An Ancient Temple of Jiangnan: Above the Earthly Realm Guan Liang's artistic development was closely tied to the political environment. From the end of World War II to the Chinese Civil War, Guan taught at The Hangzhou National School of Art (now The China Academy of Art). He saw the school's name change twice, and he participated in the socialist revolution in the educational system. Guan was a teacher throughout his 50s. When he was not teaching, he concentrated on his own art, creating works such as Hangzhou Ling Yin Temple (Lot 1018). Hangzhou has long been a source of fascination for the literati, inspiring poetry and paintings for centuries past. Many have been drawn to Hangzhou, leaving behind masterworks. Guan Liang became interested in Hangzhou's picturesque scenery, especially after leading such an itinerant, tumultuous life for many years during the war. He was happy finally to be able to concentrate on his work. In his memoirs, he wrote, "The school buildings at the National School of Art were located in the shady, forested Hardoon Garden... The gentle breeze and clean fragrance sometimes made me feel that I had really found an ideal place to create art."

Guan was exceptionally insightful, and he excelled at painting from life. Most of his landscapes only focus on one corner of a scene, which stands in for the whole. His work conveys a warmth, inviting the viewer to share the artist's real, personal vision. The composition of Hangzhou Ling Yin Temple reflects this logic. The selected subject matter is neither the wondrous sight of an ancient temple and undulating mountains nor the solemn and symbolic architecture of a sacred sanctuary. Instead, he cleverly captured a tree-shaded avenue, creating depth through the rows of old trees. Between the shadows cast by the tree trunks, light permeates the tree leaves to illuminate the road, and the dappled light guides visitors to two pavilions with red pillars and green tiles in the near distance. The entire scene has a sense of drama, bringing viewers through the layers and allowing them to savour the image's details and levels. A big tree is located at the edge of the image, which seems to support the entire picture. This appears to reference the classic composition and simple sense of distance in Cézanne's Mont Sainte-Victoire series, but this Impressionist foundation has been seamlessly internalized and handled masterfully. A similar composition appears in Tree and Bridge, which echoes Hangzhou Ling Yin Temple. There are very few people walking on the path, but the image is far from desolate. The path, pavilions, and pedestrians are all enveloped by massive trees, complemented by a warm and sweet use of colour that gives the work an abundant sense of spring. The religious implications are not explicit, but the sense of spiritual serenity washes over the mind. The landscape has a purifying effect, allowing the viewer to let go of thoughts of the human world and instead become immersed in this living "stage" constructed by Guan.