Arts d'Asie

Arts d'Asie

View full screen - View 1 of Lot 140. Weng Fanggang 翁方綱 (1733-1818).

PROPERTY FROM THE COLLECTION OF CHEN DING (1894-1971) | 陳定先生舊藏 (1894-1971)

Weng Fanggang 翁方綱 (1733-1818)

Weng Fanggang 翁方綱 | Vajra Prajnaparamita Sutra《金剛般若波羅密經》

Auction Closed

June 14, 03:20 PM GMT


40,000 - 60,000 EUR

Lot Details


Property from the Collection of Chen Ding (1894 - 1971)

Weng Fanggang (1733 - 1818)

Vajra Prajnaparamita Sutra

ink on paper, album of twenty leaves

signed Weng Fanggang, dated Jiaqing 3rd year (1798) and with two seals of the artist,

followed by Prajnamaramitra Sutra, signed Chen Maigang with seals, and dated in August 1958 with several scholar’s annotations by Zhong Gangzhong, Chen Yungao, Li Zhao Nian and others. 

32.3 x 16 x 4 cm, 12¾ by 6¼ by 1⅝ in.


Collection Chen Ding (1894-1971)

Weng Fanggang (1733 - 1818)

Sutras de Vajra Prajnaparamita

encre sur papier, album de douze feuilles

signé Weng Fanggang, daté de la 3e année de Jiaqing (1798) et avec deux sceaux de l'artiste


陳定先生舊藏 (1894-1971)

翁方綱 (1733 - 1818)


水墨紙本 十二開冊









Collection of Chen Meigong (1878 - 1975).

Collection of Chen Ding (1894 - 1971), and thence by descent.



陳定收藏 (1894-1971),此後家族傳承

Scholar, historian and calligrapher, Weng Fanggang (1733-1818), also known by his artist names Tan Xi and Su Zhai, was a leading figure in the art world of the eighteenth century. Born in Wanping, just west of Beijing, to a scholarly family, Weng worked his way up through the imperial examination system, was appointed as a member of the Qianlong Emperor’s Grand Secretariat (neige) and was among those responsible for the compilation of the enormous imperial encyclopaedia, the Siku quanshu.

In terms of his calligraphy, Weng Fanggang is particularly well known for his work in cursive (zhangcao) and official script (kaishu). However, of all the extensive pieces of work Weng produced, there is one project that stands out; one that occupied over twenty-two years of his life: the copying of the Diamond Sutra (Jingangjing). Composed some time before the early fifth century, the sutra (known in Sanskrit as the Vajra Prajnaparamita) discusses the emptiness of all things and the liberation of oneself from earthly attachments, and emerged as one of the central texts of the Chinese Mahayana tradition. As an act of self-cultivation and religious devotion, Weng dedicated himself to copying out the sutra, alongside other Buddhist texts. According to records written by Weng himself, he resolved to write four copies of the Diamond Sutra every year from 1792 until 1817, just one year before his death. These sutras, of which only a small proportion have survived, showcase the versatility and vivacity of Weng’s skilled brushwork. Compare a facsimile of a sutra of very similar style – the 1764 original now lost – reproduced in Weng Su Zhai shu Jingangjing zhen ji [The Original Diamond Sutra of Weng Su Zhai], Shanghai, 1936. For a more comprehensive list of known Weng Fanggang Diamond Sutras, see Qiao Yuhong, “Weng Fanggang shoushu ‘Jingangjing’ cunshi kaozheng [Textual Research on the Existence of Weng Fanggang’s Handwritten Diamond Sutra]”, Meiri toutiao, 20th October 2017.

The fine group of classical Chinese painting and calligraphy in this section (lots 140-145) was assembled by diplomat and statesman Chen Ding in the first half of the 20th century. Born in Hunan in 1894, Chen was among the last generation to receive a classical Chinese education and developed a profound love for fine art that he sustained throughout his life. Joining the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1919, Chen went on to serve as Attaché to the Chinese Delegation to the League of Nations in 1925 and as its Secretary in Annual Assemblies of the League until 1927. Continuing to serve as a technical expert and delegate to various international committees until 1940, Chen’s dedication to his diplomatic career was rivalled only by his love of art. From a Diamond Sutra and correspondence by Qing calligrapher Weng Fanggang (lots 140 and 143), to more modern compositions, Chen’s collection is testament to his steadfast dedication to the Chinese artistic tradition.

Chen Ding’s love of art was a family trait. His ancestor Chen Jichang (1791-1849), represented here in lot 142, was a scholar-official and prolific calligrapher. Chen Jichang’s calligraphy later entered the collection of famed collector Zhang Xiaobing (1882-1968) who gave it back to the Chen family as a gift. This family heirloom, together with the sutra by Weng Fanggang and a piece of calligraphy by Lin Zexu, were passed down to Chen Ding by his elder brother Chen Meigong (1878-1975) circa 1960. Indeed, many of the lots presented here were sent to Chen Ding from family living back in China. Even when he had left China for a new life in Europe, Chen Ding's passion for Chinese art was never extinguished. These pieces, treasured over the years, were a taste of home.