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Iconic painting of Mao Zedong leads 'Art of Asia from the Tuyet Nguyet and Stephen Markbreiter Collection Sale'
‘All Chinese Children Love You’ is one of the most recognisable images of the Mao Era. Photo: Bonhams.

HONG KONG.- Prominent Chinese propaganda artist A. Lao’s iconic oil on canvas painting ‘All Chinese Children Love You’ headlines the ‘Art of Asia from the Tuyet Nguyet and Stephen Markbreiter Collection’ sale at the Bonhams Hong Kong Gallery at Suite 2001, One Pacific Place on 9 October.

A self-taught painter from Shunde in the Guangdong province, A. Lao served as Deputy Chief of the Xinhua Shudian or New China Bookstores head office and was the first artist of the Renmin Meishu Chubanshe or People's Fine Arts Publishing House. During his tenure, A. Lao was responsible for creating governmental propaganda material, including Chinese New Year pictures, propaganda posters and illustrated picture storybooks for children.

In the 1950s, when A. Lao was still working at the Xinhua Shudian head office, the People's Fine Arts Publishing House organised a National Propaganda Campaign to encourage and challenge all prominent Chinese artists to create a series of iconic art works representative of that period. 'All Chinese Children Love You', painted by A. Lao in 1957 and measuring 78.5cm x 64cm, became an instant sensation and was one of the most recognisable images of that era. 'All Chinese Children Love You' was printed onto the first page of every Chinese primary school textbook and onto every Chinese New Year greeting card.

In 1958, ‘All Chinese Children Love You’ was exhibited at the National Socialist Exhibition of Art Forms, and the 2nd National Exhibition of Artistic Colours. The painting, estimated at HK$4,000,000 to $6,000,000, was acquired by the Markbreiter family on 19 October 1996.

Tuyet Nguyet and the late Stephen Markbreiter founded Arts of Asia, a preeminent art and culture magazine established in 1970 in Hong Kong. The couple’s lifelong affection for all Asian cultures has remained the guiding principle behind the academic content of the magazine and also behind the formation of their ‘Personal Collections’.

Tuyet Nguyet (‘Snow Moon’) was born into a Vietnamese family whose background afforded her from her early years an internationalist outlook. Awarded a BA in Journalism in 1958 by the Munderlein College for Women in Chicago, Tuyet Nguyet moved to Hong Kong in 1959 with her late husband Stephen, an English architect. Her early years as a journalist saw her writing for a number of leading publications in Asia until the creation of Arts of Asia. Tuyet Nguyet has received many awards for her educational role, including being honoured in 1958 for her outstanding contributions in the field of the arts by the International University for Presidents.

In addition to ‘All Chinese Children Love You’, the select Markbreiter Collection on sale at Bonhams includes 30 lots of fine Chinese furniture, scholar art, Buddhist art and 40 lots of paintings ranging from Chinese ink, Chinese oil on paper, Chinese trade, and South East Asian paintings. Other highlights include:

• Qi Baishi (1863-1957), Fishes. Ink and colour on paper, framed. Inscribed and signed Qi Baishi, with one seal of the artist, 104cm x 34.5cm (40¾in x 13½in). Estimate: HK$600,000 - 800,000

• Youqua (fl.1840-1870), The Harbour, Hong Kong. Oil on canvas, framed, Circa 1850, 42.5cm x 75cm (16¾in x 29½in). Estimate: HK$950,000 - 1,150,000

• An Imperial large rectangular silk and gilt-metal-thread 'five dragon' carpet, 19th century, 255cm x 156cm (100 5/8in x 61 3/8in). Estimate: HK$400,000 - 600,000

• A matched pair of huanghuali and burlwood-inlaid yoke-back armchairs, nanguanmaoyi, 19th century. The larger: 105cm high (41 1/4in) (2). Estimate: HK$200,000 - 300,000

• A very large gilt-copper alloy standing Buddha, Thai, late 19th/early 20th century, 144cm (56 3/4in) high. Estimate: HK$350,000 - 550,000

Commenting on the sale, Bonhams Asia Chairman Colin Sheaf said: ‘It is a particular pleasure for me to be invited to handle the sale of this very special Hong Kong family collection. We hope that the auction of Tuyet Nguyet’s collection will mark another successful stage in her highly successful career focused around the arts of Asia.’

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