Auction | China Guardian (HK) Auctions Co., Ltd.
2023 Spring Auctions > Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art
Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art

Wu Guanzhong (1919-2010)
The Humble Administrator's Garden(Painted in 1984)

Ink on paper

26 × 38 cm. 10 1/4 × 15 in.

Titled, dated and signed in Chinese with an artist's seal on bottom left
21 Nov 2010, Beijing Chengxuan Auctions, Lot 311
Acquired directly by present important private Asian collector from the above

Dragon-like Lines Revealing Touching Realms of Beauty and Grandeur
Classic of the Suzhou Garden Themes from Wu Guanzhong's Peak Period

Sketching for artists is mostly a basic training for beginners, practicing how to deeply observe the characteristics of scenery and spatial relations. However, for Wu Guanzhong, it is his lifelong tool and an important artistic expression, as he said, “Sixty years of art, sixty years of sketching.” Among his sketchings, the works of the 1950s are mostly objective records of the subject matters in the Western style. However, in 1965, Wu entered an important turning point, opening up a highly personalized landscape theme sketch painting, and entered what art critics call a “mature stage of perfection” in 1979. This painting Suzhou Humble Administrator's Garden, which was completed in 1984, is a representative of works from his golden age of sketching.

Stones in Garden Like Gnarled and Wind, Willows as Spring Back to the World

The Humble Administrator's Garden is the largest classical garden in Suzhou and has been praised as “the best of the Four Great Gardens of China.” Wu Guanzhong, born in Jiangsu, has traveled all over the world, but the scenery of his hometown is still the most appealing to his heart. Therefore, the Humble Administrator's Garden naturally became the subject matter of his art. The first one can be seen in his elegant pen and charcoal work The Humble Administrator's Garden in Suzhou, which was completed in 1983 during his trip to Suzhou. The one for the auction this time, though with the same title, clearly shows more details of the garden and includes pavilions, Taihu stones, willows, and the sinuous space into the picture plain. It's a stunning sight!

The Brush Stroke Like a Spring Thunder Whirlwind, the Garden Full of Colours of Spring

Wu Guanzhong, with his long years of painting experience, confidently and quickly depicted the garden like a blast of wind. The dragon bone like pavilions appears in the painting from the left, leading viewers towards the upper right corner. According to research, this pavilion is the Pavilion of Waiting for Frost. He uses simple and clean brushwork to depicting its characteristic overhanging eaves and steep staircases. Looking down from the pavilion, one can see the green willows, the clear pool at the bottom of the slope. One can see small dots and short lines with a strong personal style among the willow trees to show the vibrancy of the plants quietly awakening in early spring. With the merely monocratic sketch, one can feel that “The garden is full of colours of spring.” In the painting, teachers and students on the arch bridge are enjoying the spring, and the lovely children and the fish jumping in the rippling water below the bridge echo each other, showing the warmth of spring in which people and nature harmoniously coexist. In the foreground, the main character is the exquisite rocks of Taihu Lake, which are like clouds of air. Wu Guanzhong carves the delicate shape with continuous fine lines and emphasizes the deep and jagged texture with simple and robust ink like Chinese cursive calligraphy, which makes the rock look like two lions leaping with movement. They mingle with the spring colours of the garden, displaying his profound understanding of the aesthetics of “Although Manmade, it is just like a heavenly creation” in the excelling depiction of the garden.

Price estimate:
HKD: 500,000 - 600,000
USD: 63,700 - 76,400

Auction Result:
HKD: 864,000



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