Asian Works of Art

Ming Fan Paintings

NEW YORK, NY -- During the Ming dynasty, Chinese painting was much admired and patronized by the Imperial court. It was a stable and relatively peaceful time in China. Generally conservative, the prevailing feeling of the time was inward looking, with an appreciation of the past and present Chinese culture. Ming taste sought a return to classical prose, poetry and painting. Chinese painting drew upon styles and techniques of the Song and Yuan masters. Chinese painters of certain note during the Ming period became celebrities, many with entourages of aspiring artists. Their works were in demand from the highly cultured and elite members of the community and those with refined artistic taste.

Doyle's March 19, 2018 auction of Asian Works of Art offers four fan paintings by artists Ting His Chiang, Ch’i Fan, Tuan Chu and K’o Hung Sun. They are exceptional examples by artists paying tribute to the masters of the past while promoting their own personal style. Each of these artists was highly regarded in the late Ming / early Qing dynasties, and their works have maintained strong demand from collectors to this day.

Fan paintings can be considered among the most intimate of works because of their size. Unlike a large hanging scroll, these fans are made to be viewed up close by a single individual, who was putting the fan to practical use. Some were given as gifts, as is the case of the K’o Hing Sun's work, which is inscribed “…this painting was done for my brotherly friend, Po Ho.”

Ting Hsi Chiang’s painting of an early spring blossoming prunus branch is typical of his work. He was known for his bird and flower paintings, and he was also a calligrapher. Ting was an official painter and Grand Secretary to the Imperial court.

Ch’i Fan is most noted for his landscapes, as one of the Eight Masters of Nanjing. His works are balanced, serene and inviting. The example in the sale depicts a spring landscape with the faintest of pink blossoms from prunus just beginning to wake up from winter. 

Tuan Chu offers the earliest example in the sale. He was active in the early Ming period was a noted court painter. Famous for his landscapes, Tuan Chu has depicted two travelers minutely executed in a vast and craggy landscape with huts in the distance.

K’o Hung Sun was an accomplished Ming poet, calligrapher and landscape artist. Following the style of Shen Zhou and Lu Zhi, his fan displays an intimate scene of yellow chrysanthemum issuing from rockwork and beneath bamboo.

These works were all executed at a time period in Chinese history when the Empire was strong, and elegance and gentile living was admired. Artwork, most notably paintings, were highly regarded as the ultimate in artistic expression.

Asian Works of Art

Auction Monday, March 19, 2018 at 10am
Exhibition on view Fri, Mar 16, 10am - 5pm / Sat, Mar 17, 10am - 5pm / Sun, Mar 18, Noon - 5pm

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Portrait of specialist Marley Rabstenek
Consultant Appraiser, Asian Works of Art
Asian Works of Art
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