Auction | China Guardian (HK) Auctions Co., Ltd.
2024 Spring Auctions > Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art
Asian 20th Century and Contemporary Art

Sun Zongwei (1912-1979)
Flowers on the Table(Painted in 1943)

Oil on canvas

35 × 29 cm. 13 3/4 × 11 3/8 in.

1984, P.M. Selected Paintings of Sun Zongwei, Feople’s Fine Arts Publishing House, Beijing, p.27
2010, Arts For Life, Documents of Xu Beihong’s Students, The Forbidden City Publishing House, Beijing, p.194
2012, Sun Zongwei 100 Years Retrospective Exhibition, People’s Fine Arts Publishing House, Beijing, p.106
11 – 20 Aug 2012, Real self —— Sun Zhongwei Centennial Painting Exhibition, National Art Museum of China, Beijing

Acquired directly by original private Asian collector from the artist’s family
11 May 2013, Chengxuan Beijing Spring Auction, Lot 767
Acquired directly by present private Asian collector from the above

Tranquility and Beauty of Our Lives
The Reveal of Sun Zongwei’s Exquisite Flower Subject Oil Painting

Chinese painter Sun Zongwei demonstrates the profound impact and connection between flower and humanity, life and beauty. Born in 1912 in Jiangsu province, Sun attended National Central University, Nanjing in 1934, with an academic focus in Visual Arts. He studied under legendary artists, including Xu Beihong and Wu Zuoren, then developed a solid foundation in Realism. As his practice and talent matured, Sun soon became a pivotal individual in Xu Beihong’s plan to promote and develop art education in Nanjing. Upon Sun’s graduation in 1938, he remained at the University to teach many fellows. Following, his prolific talent was noticed by Zhang Daqian in 1941. The praise and observation noted by Zhang allowed Sun’s practice to flourish and be natured, as Sun begun to assist Zhang in research in the arts. Throughout Sun’s artistic career, oil painting, watercolour and ink are mediums of his talents. The artist had numerous exhibitions in Chongqing and Chengdu, and his works are now in collections of the Art Museum of the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, the China Art Museum in Beijing, and countless renowned institutions.

With our upcoming auction, we are pleased to present Flowers on the Table, a work of huge importance in Sun’s oeuvre. The lush painting is noted and referred to in the artist’s catalog. Its iconic subject of flower was also exhibited at The Centennial Exhibition at the National Art Museum of China in Beijing in 2012. The exhibition strongly confirms the artist's established talent.

Following Sun’s artistic journey and timeline, it reveals the impact of the Cultural Revolution and many other disputes during his pinnacle years. Most of Sun’s works have been lost or damaged, and record reveals only 300 pieces of his works are left in existence, most of which are of landscapes and figures. Out of the 20 pieces of still-life paintings, a mere 7 are of the theme of flowers. This scarcity definitely emphasizes the work’s uniqueness in the market!

The Rich and Fragrant Flavors of Life

Sun’s partnership with Zhang was significant in his artistic transformation. Sun Zongwei’s sensitivity to colours derived from his travels with Zhang to the West. Landscapes served as his natural palette and reference, giving new perspective and insight to his painting subjects. In a period of simplicity and lack of materials, Sun began to research and create his own paint. Upon his travel from the West of China, Sun Zongwei organized an exhibition on the subject of landscape of the North-West in 1943. This exhibition was a pinnacle point of his practice, as the subject and colours broke boundaries and notions of known landscapes. The artwork, titled Flowers on the Table, completed in 1943 became an iconoclasm of Sun Zongwei’s oeuvre. It represents the spirit, achievement and pursuit of nationalization of oil painting.

In this iconic work, the artist uses subtle colour changes to signify colour changes in warmth and coolness, and explores harmony through bold contrasting colour collisions. In a dark green background, it shows a bouquet of beautiful orange-red claret orchids, like a warm sun rising in the desert. Sun expresses an individual’s high moral character through the symbolism of orchids, as it is often referred to the king of fragrance in China, otherwise known as "the Four Gentleman of Flowers". The bright side of the flower is highlighted with gold and white brushstrokes, while the dark side is subtly blended with a cooler purple-red, a subtle but not trivial colour palette that blends together in an organic way. With Sun’s playful layering, the  combination of red and green is not at all glamorous, but transforms into a tranquil flavour of life. The overlapping colours are all in one, with a rich and thick texture, revealing an extraordinary taste, and reflects the artist’s inner peace. He is also equipped with a background of high literacy, along with sincerity and honesty towards natural life.

Price estimate:
HKD: 300,000 – 400,000
USD: 38,300 - 51,100

Auction Result:
HKD: 504,000



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