The scholar artist in his studio

Michael Sullivan’s (1916-2013) journey in Chinese art started in west China during the Second World War (1939-1945), where he became friends with many Chinese artists. However, Michael never met the artist of this painting, Fu Baoshi (1904-1965). Their connections were through a mutual friend Geoffrey Hedley (died 1958), who was a British Council official and had contacts with many artists in China during the 1940s. Hedley bequeathed his collection of Chinese art, including this painting, to Khoan (1919-2003) and Michael Sullivan.

Fu Baoshi occupies a unique place in modern Chinese art as a traditional painter because, although he studied both Western and Japanese art in Tokyo (1933-1935), he always remained a Chinese artist. The subjects of his paintings were almost always figures, landscapes, and figures in landscapes. His slender, elongated figures recall the style of the Six Dynasties (AD 220- AD 589), while the monumental scale of his landscapes recalls the Northern Song (AD 960-1127) masters. The inscription is a poem by the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) author Wu Meicun (1609-1671), about his friend, Shao Mi (c.1592-after 1642), the ‘eccentric painter’. Baoshi adds ‘Meicun has portrayed me.’

Details

  • Catalogue text

    Guohua painter, born in Nanchang, Jiangsi. After studying and teaching in Nanchang, he went to the Tokyo Academy of Art (1933-35). In 1949 he became head of the Jiangsu Academy of Art in Nanjing. Although he was in west China during World War II, we never met him, but he was a good friend of Geoffrey Hedley.

    N.d., about 1948.

    Bequeathed to Khoan and Michael Sullivan by Geoffrey Hedley in 1960.

    Another almost identical version is in the collection of the Musée Cernuschi, Paris.

    Published in Chinese Art in the Twentieth Century, Fig. 18; Art and Artists of Twentieth Century China, Fig. I. 18.

    In: Sullivan, Michael, Modern Chinese Art: The Khoan and Michael Sullivan Collection, revised edn (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2009)

Further reading

Sullivan, Michael, Chinese Art in the Twentieth Century (London: Faber, 1959), fig. 18

Sullivan, Michael, Art and Artists of Twentieth Century China (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1996), fig I.18

Sullivan, Michael, Modern Chinese Art: The Khoan and Michael Sullivan Collection, revised edn (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2009), no. 34 on p. 76, illus. p.76 fig. II.34

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