Lot 1037
  • 1037

GUAN LIANG | Hangzhou Riverside Town

900,000 - 1,500,000 HKD
2,625,000 HKD
bidding is closed


  • Guan Liang
  • Hangzhou Riverside Town 
  • oil on canvas
  • 54 by 65 cm; 21 ¼ by 25 ⅝ in. 
executed in 1950


Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei
Acquired directly from the above by the present important private Asian collector


Taipei, Lin & Keng Gallery, Guan Liang: 100 Years Retrospective Exhibition, 19 April - 14 May 2000


Guan Liang: 100 Years Retrospective Exhibition, Lin & Keng Gallery, Taipei, 2000, p. 52
Xue Jianhua, ed., Guan Liang, People's Fine Arts Publishing House, Shanghai, 2009, p. 44
CANS Art News Editing Team, ed., Guan Liang 1900 - 1986, Chinese Art Books Co., Taipei, 2012, p. 125
Shanghai Artists Association, ed., Works of Representatives of Shanghai Artists in the Century: Guan Liang, Shanghai Calligraphy and Painting Publishing House, Shanghai, 2013, p. 72
Beijing Fine Art Academy, ed., Gao Miao Chuan Shen: The Research of Guan Liang's Paintings, Guangxi Fine Arts Publishing House, Nanning, 2015, p. 203

Catalogue Note

Hangzhou Riverside Town: Picturesque Jiangnan Guan Liang was among the pioneers who introduced Western painting techniques to Chinese art. Imbued with essence of both worlds, Guan Liang’s oil paintings often depicted natural landscapes. Not only did Guan Liang engage in aesthetic experimentation as a member of the avant-garde, he was also devoted to the study and understanding of life itself.  The masterpiece presented by Sotheby’s at this season’s sale, Hangzhou Riverside Town (Lot 1037) portray landscapes in China, serving as a record of Guan Liang’s extensive travels. The painting reflects not only the artist’s pursuit of beauty, but also his outlook and philosophy. In the artist’s own words: “Art comes from life, yet transcends it.”

Guan Liang was an educator for several decades. He taught at the National Hangzhou Art School (now the China Academy of Art), which was a period that that touched him deeply. The outbreak of the Chinese Civil War came on the heels of the victory in the Second Sino-Japanese War, and during that time the National Art School resumed classes in Hangzhou. The school and students were surrounded by beauty and tranquility, providing a natural environment ideal for artists. In this atmosphere of freedom and creativity, Guan Liang composed a series of outstanding works, including Hangzhou Riverside Town which is considered a classic from this period of the 1950s.

Amid the charming backdrop of Jiangnan’s waterways, picturesque landscapes appear at every turn. Guan Liang’s ingenuity is at play in the composition of Hangzhou Riverside Town. The fisherman’s boat gently sways in the foreground, the small arch bridge lies across the center of the painting, and the water under the bridge in the foreground extends far into the distance, where a few houses are nestled at the base of a small mountain. The painting exudes a natural aura of simplicity, while the exquisite arrangement of the tableau draws the viewer’s gaze, layer by layer, as though walking onto the intricate set of a stage. Much like Guan Liang’s iconic paintings of Chinese opera characters, viewing the painting approximates the real experience itself, ever lingering in the viewer’s mind.

The restrained atmosphere of this gentle landscape is not a mere en plein air sketch by the artist. The riverside houses at the base of the mountains invoke the notion of an “unending stream,” a theme often found in traditional landscape paintings. With simplicity and straightforwardness, the work contains the xieyi spirit of ink-wash painting. With the brush following the artist’s intentions, Guan Liang expresses his gratitude for his surroundings and this return to more uncomplicated times. Also imbued within the painting are the artist’s wishes for sustained peace in the country’s new future, a hope that reflects his own unwavering loyalty.