First Look: The Chew Family Collection of Chinese Paintings & Calligraphy

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Launch Slideshow

The Chew Family Collection of Chinese Paintings & Calligraphy was assembled by Ms Frances Chew, known as Sister Asha, and her parents beginning in the 1970s. Aside from a few works that appeared in the market in the early 1990s and a few others lost to theft, the collection has remained intact until now. It is clearly documented from the time of acquisition, allowing us to reconstruct the family’s relationship with Zhang Daqian and Chinese paintings.  

San Francisco Exhibition | 28 February

Los Angeles Exhibition | 3–5 March

Chew Family Collection of Chinese Paintings & Calligraphy
22 March | New York

First Look: The Chew Family Collection of Chinese Paintings & Calligraphy

  • ZHANG LING, SCHOLAR GAZING AT FARMLANDS FROM A PAVILION, INK AND COLOR ON PAPER. ESTIMATE $160,000–220,000.
    Although little information about Zhang Ling has survived, records since the Ming dynasty agree on his close relationship with Tang Yin. The two also evidently had similar styles in painting and calligraphy.
  • MA SHOUZHEN, ORCHID, BAMBOO, AND LINGZHI, INK AND COLOR ON PAPER. ESTIMATE 100,000–150,000.
    Classical painters never made long scrolls recklessly; they were meant to be ready at hand to be appreciated for a long time, and thus were taken very seriously. The same is true for this work by Xianglan. – Colophon by Jiang Zhaoshen

  • TAO CHENG, WILD RABBIT AMONGST BAMBOO AND CHRYSANTHEMUM, INK AND COLOR ON PAPER. ESTIMATE $60,000–80,000.
    Tao Cheng was especially fond of drawing bamboo and rabbits. Few of his works have survived. The preeminent artist and collector Zhang Daqian held Tao Cheng in high regard and once owned two works by this master.

  • YUN SHOUPING, LANDSCAPES AFTER SONG AND YUAN MASTERS, INK ON PAPER, ALBUM OF EIGHT LEAVES. ESTIMATE $240,000–280,000.
    People of the past said Nantian regarded his own landscapes as inferior to those of Shigu and thus gave them up in favor of floral subjects. I disagree. [Nantian behaved] just as Master Ouyang said, “Give this man the opportunity to shine.” From this we see that painters of the past were honorable in their dealings with others. – Excerpt from colophon written by Zhang Daqian

  • YUN SHOUPING, LANDSCAPES AFTER SONG AND YUAN MASTERS, INK ON PAPER, ALBUM OF EIGHT LEAVES. ESTIMATE $240,000–280,000.
    Zhuang Yan, the former Director at the National Palace Museum in Taipei, says in his inscription for this painting that the artist Lin Liang “was especially adept at using ink. In the emerging and disappearing mist, the activities of the mallards and geese are clearly seen. The tree branches are strong and tensile like cursive calligraphy.”

  • LIN LIANG, TWO PHEASANTS UNDER A WINTRY WILLOW TREE, INK ON SILK. ESTIMATE $120,000 –160,000.
    Lin’s brushwork is untethered and freely expressive. Without pursuing meticulous craft, he manifests it beyond brushwork. Without pursuing refinement, he manifests it within brushwork. Truly he is the master of a generation.  – Excerpt from colophon written by Zhuang Yan

  • DONG QICHANG, RUAN JI'S ESSAY AND EXCERPT FROM ZHAO ZHI'S ESSAY IN RUNNING SCRIPT, INK ON PAPER. ESTIMATE $60,000 –80,000.
    Dong Qichang is well known for being a diligent student of classical masterpieces. In this handscroll, he emulated the calligraphy style of Yan Zhenqing. Written using a chicken-feather brush, which is extremely soft and thus difficult to control, the artist obtains a formal likeness without seeming constrained or hesitant. Such mastery of the art is rare to find after the Yuan dynasty.

  • XI GANG, LANDSCAPES, INK ON SILK, ALBUM OF TWELVE LEAVES. ESTIMATE $20,000–40,000.
    This freely painted album follows the aesthetic principles of literati paintings and is thus refined and naturally transcendent. The painter says that he is imitating Song and Yuan masters, but he is not mired in formal likeness and captures the spirit and intent of the original completely. —From the colophon by Wang Zhuangwei
  • ATTRIBUTED TO SHITAO, SCENERY OF CHAO RIVER, INK AND COLOR ON PAPER. ESTIMATE $30,000–50,000.
    Scenery of Chao River is based on an original Shitao painting in at the Tianjin Art Museum and is identical to it in composition, inscription texts, calligraphic and painting styles. However, the colors in the present painting are less saturated, and certain details are more refined, such as the waves in the lake, the rendition of the temple, and the divisions of foreground fields.  

  • ATTRIBUTED TO KUNCAN, AUTUMN LANDSCAPE, INK AND COLOR ON PAPER. ESTIMATE $30,000–50,000.
    Zhang Daqian was renowned as a forger as much as a painter. The inscriptions, signature, and date on the present landscape signed as Kuncan have all been copied from Kuncan's Immortals' Abode at the Palace Museum in Beijing, whereas the composition and especially the distant mountains somewhat resemble Hermitage in the Mountains in the Shanghai Museum.

  • ZHANG DAQIAN, RECLUSE FIGURES, INK ON PAPER, ALBUM OF FIVE LEAVES. ESTIMATE $200,000–250,000.
    This album was a gift from Zhang Daqian to Wu Wanhui, a student to Zhang Daqian since age fifteen. She is the daughter of Wu Zishen, and goddaughter of Chen Dingshan, both of whom are acclaimed artists. Wu later married Mr. Qiu Tao and moved to the Philippines, taking this album with her. She was unable to visit the mainland to continue her lessons with Zhang and missed her student days dearly, evidently from a short inscription on this album that says “never to forget in my life.”

  • ZHANG DAQIAN, WATER AND SKY GAZING AFTER RAIN IN SPLASHED COLOR, INK AND COLOR ON PAPER. ESTIMATE $1,200,000-1,800,000.
    This monumental horizontal scroll is deeper and richer in color than Zhang’s later blue-green landscapes, with generous amounts of azurite and malachite concentrated towards the right, and beneath them a layer of dark ink. This artwork entered the collection of the China Art Center soon after completion and has not been exhibited or published.

  • ZHANG DAQIAN, LUOFU TEMPLE, INK AND COLOR ON PAPER. ESTIMATE $180,000–220,000.
    Mount Luofu is one of ten famous Daoist Mountains in China. This painting depicts Mount Luofu enveloped in dense white clouds, with temples and buildings far-removed from worldly troubles. The artist also included a calligraphy inscription by Song dynasty poet Cai Yuanli naming ancient myths and legends associated with this sacred place.

  • ZHANG DAQIAN, LANDSCAPE AFTER SHITAO, INK AND COLOR ON PAPER. ESTIMATE $200,000–250,000.
    Zhang Daqian collected many exceptional works of Shitao and studied them exhaustively. This landscape painted in the style of Shitao was gifted by Zhang to Thomas Chew, marking his appreciation of their friendship.

  • ZHANG DAQIAN, TAO YUANMING ENJOYING CHRYSANTHEMUMS, INK AND COLOR ON PAPER. ESTIMATE $40,000–60,000.
    Zhang Daqian painted this artwork after being sick for three months and was in dire need of money. Suddenly feeling better one day, he attempted a few brush strokes. His family members who were observing him from the side saw no sign of illness at all in his brushwork. Zhang Daqian, feeling relieved, mocks himself for buying wine on credit, and admits with regret that he is not as good as the famous poet Tao Yuanming, who in poverty pleased himself with only chrysanthemums.

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