Contemplating upon an Autumn Landscape
Scroll, mounted on board and framed, ink and colour on paper
PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT AMERICAN COLLECTION
This painting belongs to Zhang Daqian's family and was kept for his personal and family enjoyment. It served as a showpiece at his house in Pebble Beach. The painting was painted in Brazil in 1967 at his Home of Eight Virtues. A purely splashed-ink (pomo) design, this painting is unique, as most of Zhang's paintings contain the addition of mountains, trees and structures.
The present owner, grandson of Zhang Daqian's brother, recalls that Zhang brought the painting with him when he moved from Brazil to Carmel, then later to Pebble Beach, California.
At each residence the painting remained in the living room as the main display for his personal enjoyment, as well as to show friends and visiting dignitaries. The painting was particularly cherished by Zhang, as he once stated that it was a representation of water running into one of the man-made lakes on his ranch in Brazil. When Zhang gifted the painting to his grandson, he said that it represented incoming wealth and was always a good omen for him. The painting was given to the present owner in 1972 as a young adult going out into the world.
Contemplating Upon an Autumn Landscape was painted in 1967 at the height of the development of Zhang Daqian's semi-automatic splashed ink and colour technique. This creative zenith was brought about partly by his ailing eye sight, which imposed limitations on the fine gongbi painting that he practiced ceaselessly under the inspiration of masterpieces of the Song, Ming and Qing dynasties before the 1950s. The success of Zhang's pomo style should not be read as Zhang's inability to adhere to his previous style and flair, but rather his wisdom to revive a Tang dynasty artistic tradition and renew it with modern enthusiasm. His spacious painting studio in Brazil, which he began to use in 1953, certainly facilitated his focus on expressive and large-scale works, yet it was Zhang's awareness of Western artistic development and his understanding of the taste of Western collectors that made his success distinct from the rest of his contemporaries in China. The artistic vocabulary one uses to describe Contemplating upon an Autumn Landscape is close to those used for major North American art movements at that time, such as Abstract Expressionism, Action Painting, and Minimalism.
Contemplating upon an Autumn Landscape gives an abstract impression. Except for the few red trees that are barely visible on the paper, the painting is stripped of any of the fine details usually seen in Zhang's splashed ink paintings, such as clusters of houses. Zhang chose to use colours alone to paint, with an inscription that reads "dingwei year, ninth month, on Lake Wuting". Zhang Daqian's residence in Brazil, "The Garden of Eight Virtues", was an expanse of 30 hectares, with an artificial lake that collected rain water. The lake, with five pavilions (hence named wuting) , acted as a resting spot and a shelter from the rain. Zhang often took inspiration from the sheets of rain that poured down into Lake Wuting, a rapid and fantastical imagery not unlike Zhang's splashing of ink onto his works. In the painting, blue and green remain the foundation colours to depict a misty Lake Wuting, while red and gold roam profusely on the upper part of the painting, giving the foliage light and colour on an autumn day. The gold inscription and the seals impressed with cinnabar paste shine through the darkness and make a perfect ornament to the painting.
Inscribed and signed, with three seals of the artist
Daqian Zhang , 20th Century, Paintings, ink, paper, China, Modern, landscape
CHINESE CLASSICAL & MODERN PAINTINGS
84 x 129 cm. (33 1/8 x 50 3/4 in.)
Descended directly from the artist.