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Sotheby's to present the Chew Family Collection of Chinese paintings & calligraphy
Zhang Daqian, Water and Sky Gazing After Rain in Splashed. Color Ink and color on paper, horizontal scroll, 39 1/2 by 75 3/4 in., 100.5 by 192.3 cm. Estimate: $1.2/1.8 million. Courtesy Sotheby’s.


NEW YORK, NY.- Sotheby’s announced the addition of an evening sale this Asia Week New York dedicated to The Chew Family Collection of Chinese Paintings & Calligraphy. Taking place on 22 March in New York City, the auction will feature seventy-six paintings and calligraphy acquired directly from trusted collectors across the Americas and East Asia. Curated by two generations of the Chew family, with the personal touch of one of China’s foremost modern painters, Zhang Daqian, the offerings include rare works from the 15th through 20th centuries. Proceeds from the sale will benefit two trusts established by Frances Chew prior to her passing to continue her mission and to benefit those in need.

Xian Fang, Head of Sotheby’s Classical Chinese Paintings Sales in New York, stated: “We are privileged to present the Chew Family Collection this March. Thoughtfully assembled and carefully preserved for decades, the paintings and calligraphy – many accompanied by original receipts and photographs from the time of acquisition – bring to life the very personal side to collecting. An ode to the family’s artistic eye and their friendships with artists and collectors in California and beyond, we look forward to sharing the Chew’s vision this Asia Week New York.”

THE CHEW FAMILY COLLECTION
In the 1930s, Joan Chew, daughter of famous revolutionary officer General Wu Luzhen, arrived in the United States to study music at the University of Southern California. There she met and married Thomas Chew, a fellow student at the business school; together they managed a number of businesses in import, export and Chinese antiquities, including the Great Wall Inc. in Los Angeles, China Commerce Co. in San Francisco and the China Art Center in Carmel. In Carmel, where Frances, Joan and Thomas put down roots, the Chew Family managed the Dolores Lodge, which became a favorite rest stop for the celebrated modern painter, Zhang Daqian, and his friends.

Frances Chew was a brilliant student and accomplished athlete, graduating from Mills College before travelling to the Sorbonne in Paris and Yale University to study and teach French literature. Following her father’s untimely passing, she returned to California to support her mother, to manage the China Art Center, and to become a mentee of Zhang Daqian. In her own words, “it was a way [Zhang Daqian] communicated – quick, deep insights on art and on life. It was not something to be analyzed or explained. For those who understand, no explanation was necessary, for those who didn’t, no explanation was possible.” In the 1980s, Frances left California to pursue a vocation with the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Theresa to care for the sick and the poor; over the next decade, she, then known as Sister Asha, lived and worked in New York, Rome and Haiti, before returning home in 1992 to take care of her mother. Frances Chew passed away in early 2017.

ZHANG DAQIAN AND THE CHEW FAMILY
One of, if not the most, illustrious modern Chinese artist of his time, Zhang Daqian emigrated to the United States in 1967, living first in Carmel and later in Monterey. There, he befriended the Chew Family, staying at the Dolores Lodge whenever he travelled to Carmel. During these visits, Zhang Daqian and the Chews exchanged gifts including the artist’s own works such as Water and Sky Gazing after Rain in Splashed Color and Five Fortunes, which Zhang inscribed with wishes for the Chews’ 60th birthday. Zhang also inscribed paintings by other artists, including Yun Shouping’s Landscapes After Song and Yuan Masters, Tao Cheng’s Wild Rabbit Amongst Bamboo and Chrysanthemum, and Lin Liang’s Two Geese in an Autumn Lotus Pond and Two Pheasants Under a Wintry Willow Tree.

COLLECTION HIGHLIGHTS

Tao Cheng, Wild Rabbit Amongst Bamboo and Chrysanthemum. Ink and color on paper, hanging scroll, 47 5/8 by 12 ¾ in., 121.1 by 32.3 cm. Estimate $60/80,000

Previously in the collection of Zhang Daqian, who held Tao Cheng in the highest regard, the present painting features seals and a title slip by the artist as well as seals of the Chew Family. Featuring a wild rabbit nestled amongst articulated bamboo and lush chrysanthemums, related works of art can be found at the Palace Museum in Beijing and the Shanghai Museum.

Zhang Ling, Scholar Gazing at Farmlands from a Pavilion. Ink and color on paper, hanging scroll, 57 3/8 by 27 ¾ in., 145.7 by 70.4 cm. Estimate $160/220,000
Poems and paintings by 15th century artist Zhang Ling are extremely rare, with a handful of works held by the Palace Museum, Beijing, the Shanghai Museum, and the National Palace Museum, Taipei. The present work resembles a masterpiece held in the National Palace Museum titled Forests and Valleys in Late Spring by Tang Yin, a close childhood friend of Zhang Ling. The work is accompanied by the artist’s inscription: “The sowing horses cackle in the dewy dawn. Soaring like great birds, the carts make drum-like sounds. The master leans against the railing, keenly keeping watch. Painstakingly working are us farmers.”

Yun Shouping, Landscapes After Song and Yuan Masters. Ink and color on paper, album of eight leaves. Each 10 3/4 by 13 in., 27.2 by 33.3 cm. Estimate $240/280,000
One of several paintings in the Chew Family Collection bearing the inscription of Zhang Daqian, the present 17th century painting features the artist’s colophon and his thoughts on the work by Yun Shouping, also known as Natian: “when it comes to having both skill and talent, Natian is the only one. I have now seen this album, which is compelling with its ethereal beauty, elegant but nonetheless simple and grounded. How can Wang and Wu compare?”. In addition to Zhang Daqian’s praise, Landscapes After Song and Yuan Masters includes colophons by Pu Ru (1896-1963), Zhuang Yang (1899-1980), Lin Qingni (1914-1970) and Huang Junbi (1898-1991).

Zhang Daqian, Water and Sky Gazing After Rain in Splashed Color. Ink and color on paper, horizontal scroll, 39 1/2 by 75 3/4 in., 100.5 by 192.3 cm. Estimate $1.2/1.8 million
Zhang Daqian’s Water and Sky Gazing After Rain in Splashed Color is an exquisite work completed in 1968, the year the artist relocated from Brazil to California. Characteristic of his work completed in Brazil, a hut and fields nestled amongst the mountains are engulfed by a rich sea of azurite and malachite, which encompasses most of the right hand side of the painting. Acquired by the China Art Center soon after its completion, the present work of monumental size is being exhibited and published for the first time this Asia Week New York.

Qi Baishi, A Myna Under Banana Leaf. Ink on paper, hanging scroll, 43 1/8 by 13 7/8 in., 109.7 by 33.9 cm. Estimate $100/160,000
Works by modern masters of Chinese painting and calligraphy abound in The Chew Family Collection. Qi Baishi’s A Myna Under Banana Leaf is one example. A hanging scroll measuring nearly four feet in length, the boldly painted work carries a titleslip by Zeng Shaojie (1910-1988) as well as three collectors’ seals of the Chew Family.





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