Woman behind the artist

By Lin Qi ( China Daily ) Updated: 2015-06-18 08:15:52

Woman behind the artist

[Photo/China Daily]

Liao Jingwen, widow of famed painter Xu Beihong, devoted her life to his legacy, Lin Qi reports.

Liao Jingwen, widow of the great painter and art educator Xu Beihong (1895-1953), died peacefully on Tuesday night at her residence in Beijing. She was 92.

She was reported to have been authenticating a painting attributed to Xu on Monday, when she was last heard talking.

Xu Qingping, son of Liao and Xu Beihong, says: "All her life, she made enormous contribution to the country and especially its art course.

"She fulfilled her duties as a faithful mother and a respected elder of our family. We feel so grateful to her."

Liao is considered "a woman who was born and lived for the sake of Xu Beihong". She was a devoted caretaker and assistant of the artist, who struggled with poor health and juggled many social activities in his late years.

Over the six decades since Xu's sudden death, she immersed herself in the remembrance of her late husband and dedicated herself to extending the influence of his legacy.

Ma Lu, who teaches oil painting at Beijing's Central Academy of Fine Arts, saw Liao only a few times but was impressed by her elegance and kindness.

"She always wore a red beret in winter, even when she dined," he remembers. "The cap was quite old but made her look spirited. Her family said she liked it so much because she bought it in Paris (where Xu Beihong studied and lived for years)."

"I not only love Xu Beihong. I'm also his admirer," Liao often told media. "When I'm alone, all these sweet memories (between us) re-emerge in my mind. They make me happy. They also bring me agony."

Liao first met Xu when she was 19. Born in Changsha, Hunan province, she traveled to Guilin in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region in 1942. At the time Xu was working on the opening of an art college in Chongqing. He went to Guilin to scout for a librarian and interviewed Liao, who was one of the many applicants.

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