Pan Tianshou (1897-1971)  Vulture
Lot 8021
Pan Tianshou (1897-1971)
Vulture
Sold for US$ 100,000 inc. premium

Lot Details
Pan Tianshou (1897-1971)  Vulture
Pan Tianshou (1897-1971)
Vulture
Mounted for framing, ink and color on paper, signed Leipo toufeng shouzhe, with two artist's seals reading Pan Tianshou and Dayi shouzhe.
36 7/8 x 16 3/4in (93.7 x 42.6cm)

Footnotes

  • 潘天壽 禿鷹 設色紙本 鏡片


    The depiction of birds in Chinese painting enjoys a remarkably long and storied tradition, their presence on silk or paper often linked with, or commenting on political power and position. The magic realism that emerged from the court of Song Huizong (r.1100-1125) gave the world the gifts of a five-colored parakeet delicately perched on an apricot tree and bubuls on a blossoming allspice bush. Under the aegis of the Ming emperors, Lin Liang (c. 1416-1480) and Lu Ji (1477- ) employed broad monochrome brushstrokes to depict eagles and hawks symbolizing courage and might. The collapse of the Ming inextricably inspired the outcast prince Bada Shanren (1626-1705) to create his ink mynah birds, their eyes rolled upward in defiance and imbued with the cool and lofty lengyi aesthetic.

    In the mid-20th century Pan Tianshou's unique rendering of vultures are a culmination of a thousand years of painting history. As a leading advocate of guohua painting and a scholar of Chinese painting history, he deeply understood the tradition. Here the vulture is created not only with brush, but also by the artist's own fingers dipped in ink, and in the present example the baleful bird of prey is here perched on a wedge of rock, fiercely glancing outside the composition with an intense focus.

    For Pan Tianshou, politics and power and their relationship with painting would bring his own demise. Jiang Qing (1914-1991) described his vultures as "gloomy" and "ugly". And on May 19, 1968, fellow Gang of Four member Yao Wenyuan (1932-2005) went even further commenting "Pan Tianshou's vultures are the avatars of spies, which has to do with the fact that he himself is a spy". The damning proclamation would lead to his public denouncement and eventual death in a Hangzhou hospital three years later, a culmination of five years of political persecution.

    Provenance
    Quincy Adams Shaw Jr. (1896-1987)
    Thence by descent to the present owner

    Quincy Adams Shaw Jr. was born into a Boston family of enormous prominence and wealth, his grandfather, the first Quincy Adams Shaw, having been the president of the famed Calumet & Hecla Mining Company. The Shaw family built a significant art collection, including both Asian and European works, later gifting pieces by Millet, Corot and Donatello to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
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