Lao She’s art collection on display at National Art Museum

By Lin Qi ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-02-10 08:17:06

Lao She’s art collection on display at National Art Museum

Lao She's collections of painting works of Qi Baishi (left), Yu Fei'an (right top) and Xie Zhiliu (right bottom).[Photo provided to China Daily]

Famed writer Lao She and his wife were notable collectors of 20th-century Chinese art, and many of those works are now on show, Lin Qi reports.

Besides his accomplishments as a novelist and playwright, Lao She (1899-1966) is noted for the connoisseurship of traditional Chinese paintings. Together with his wife, Hu Jieqing (1905-2001), he accumulated a wealth of artworks dating from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) to the modern age. Many were created by important figures of 20th-century Chinese art, whom the couple kept a close relationship with in their lifetimes.

Artists of the People, an exhibition now on at the National Art Museum of China, demonstrates the couple's discerning judgment of Chinese art with a display of part of their collections. More than 200 paintings, calligraphic pieces, seals and ink slabs stand as testaments of their aesthetic taste and their friendship with prominent painters such as Qi Baishi (1864-1957) and Yu Feian (1888-1956).

The exhibits fall into three sections. The first one shows several cooperative works between Hu, a well-established painter herself, and Lao She, who nourished himself to be a poet and calligrapher.

The second section celebrates the intimate association between the couple and Qi Baishi. Lao She bought the first painting of Qi in the early 1930s and had since then become an admirer. Hu once tutored Qi's children, and later became a student of Qi.

Qi once said of himself, " (I'm) best in poetry, then seal art and calligraphy, while painting comes last." On show are more than 70 works, most of which the couple received as gifts, to show Qi's versatility and comprehensiveness as a genuine literati.

"The relationship between my father and Qi Baishi was more than that of a collector and a painter. They were definitely bosom friends," says Shu Yi, the son of Lao She.

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