Large Ivory Seal
- Sold for:
Large Ivory Seal, China, probably Qianlong period (1736-1795), of columnar form, the top section carved in high relief of five sinuous dragons chasing flaming pearls amidst clouds, four in profile in various attitudes around the sides, one of frontal view on the top, the carving in seal script, reads, "Zhen Lu Yu Bao" (Imperial Treasure Protecting the Land), the ivory of warm honey tone, ht. 3 3/8, base 2 3/8 in. square.
N.B. The Collection of Charles Chi-Jung Chu (1918-2008): Lot 766-887
The auction features the personal collections of paintings, calligraphy, books, and small collectibles of Charles J. Chu (1918-2008), much loved and admired professor, painter, calligrapher, curator, collector, scholar, and educator.
Born in a small farming village in Hebei Province, China, Chu went to study at the National Central University in China. In 1945, he came to the United States to pursue graduate studies at the University of California at Berkeley and later at Harvard University. Chu then taught at Yale University for fifteen years before establishing and directing the Chinese program at Connecticut College. Jonathan Spence, the Sterling Professor of History at Yale and one of the foremost scholars of Chinese civilization, said Chu broke ranks with his colleagues by creating a program that set Chinese in the context of the liberal art; and that the Connecticut College program was one of the first to focus not just on language, but on politics, culture and art.
Following Chu's retirement from teaching, he teamed up with Hughes Griffis to compile a special collection of East Asian art for Connecticut College. As founding curator, Chu oversaw the development of the Chu-Griffis Asian Art Collection, which flourished with the support of numerous donors from this country and from China and Taiwan.
Chu's personal collection features paintings from as early as Ming dynasty, to works of modern Chinese artists, including, among others, Qi Baishi, Wang Yachen, Zhang Daqian, Wang Fangyu, Huang Binhong, Wang Jiqian, Pan Gongkai, Fu Xiaoshi, Zhao Shao'ang, Wang Dongling, many of whom Chu had known personally. A connoisseur in and scholar of Chinese art, Chu dedicated his whole life to art collection and appreciation. His take on how to form a collection reveals the taste of a true collector. At one time, Chu told a story of a friend with whom he once shared a garden. The two planted beans together, and his friend became anxious when they didn't sprout right away. "After one week he said, 'Charles, how come the beans are dead?' Chu asked his friend how he knew the beans were dead, and he replied. "I took them out (of the ground) to see what's wrong." The growth of a collection, like a garden, Chu said, requires patience. Its growth will be slow, steady, and unpredictable. This is history. This is culture. It takes time. Be patient."
A skilled painter and calligrapher himself, Chu demonstrated in his work his conversance with traditional Chinese art history, his enthusiasm of life, as well as a unique observation of, and way to depict, nature. He was mostly concerned with the exquisite and changing aspects of landscape. To him, a true painter is also a poet or scholar and a connoisseur of sensation. In the 1989 ink painting Snow Clearing over East Rock, one can experience Chu's spirited use of various shades and texture of ink, his energetic yet sensitive brushstrokes in capturing the essence and each transient moment, and the incorporation of the principles and techniques of calligraphy into painting. Chu said, "Once a picture has begun, it must be carried through without interruption. There is no turning back to correct mistakes. It must be a spontaneous outpouring, because it is visual poetry."
Chu once asked in the inscription on his painting East Rock Still Touched by Morning Fog, "Must men always be in conflict? Can't we be satisfied with a spot of land and a dozen good books?" In viewing his collection, we share and savor Chu's predilection for a spot of land and a dozen good books.
Few age lines