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Lady Holding a Lotus Flower
Vm 2631
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The painting shows a half-length figure of a young beauty, clad in a classical Chinese garment. The girl’s slender face is framed by thick black hair, artfully arranged into a high coiffure. In her hands, she holds a lotus flower – the traditional Buddhist symbol of purity – which, however, in this case further enhances her own physical beauty. The woman is shown in an interior space, which is implied by a light, airy curtain in the background and, on the picture’s left side, a fragile-looking vase with an elongated neck. The motif of delicate beauties derives from traditional Chinese painting, but a strong influence of Western art is also discernible here, primarily from works by Henri Matisse and Amedeo Modigliani. Lin Fengmian is one of the most prominent founders of 20th-century Chinese ink painting. In the 1920s, he spent several years studying Western art in Paris and Germany, where he became well acquainted with modern tendencies in Western art. The artist’s oeuvre is characterized by a harmonious and original blending of Western art and traditional Chinese painting. This is also clearly manifested in his images of Chinese beauties – a leitmotif found throughout Lin Fengmian’s works. The artist’s masterful brushwork is demonstrated in the modelling of forms using soft, flexible lines.

History of the Object
This painting is one of the five works by Lin Fengmian in the National Gallery’s possession. It is also one of the most outstanding works in the Gallery’s collection of 20th-century Chinese ink painting, whose diversity, size and superb quality ranks it among the foremost European collections of this genre. The Prague collection, which comprises some 200 Chinese ink paintings of the 20th century, was initially built through the endeavours of Vojtěch Chytil (1891–1936), a Czech artist and collector of Chinese art. In the 1920s, Chytil taught European painting at the art academy in Beijing and devoted himself to collecting and promoting the works of his Chinese contemporaries. The paintings from the original Chytil collection constitute approximately one-third of the Gallery’s present collection of 20th-century Chinese ink painting. After World War II, the political developments in China and Czechoslovakia contributed to the enhancement of mutual contacts. Throughout the 1950s, delegations of cultural and technical cadres travelled to China, where they often bought old art as well as paintings by contemporary artists. These were systematically purchased by the National Gallery’s Collection of Oriental Art. The Collection was founded in 1951 and headed for 35 years by Dr. Lubor Hájek (1926-2000), a true connoisseur of Chinese art.

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Type
Painting 
Materials
Ink and colours on paper 
Measurements
33 x 32 cm 
Creator name
Lin Fengmian 
Creator date
(1900-1991) 
Where it was made
China 
Geography
China 
Time period
AD 20th century ~ AD 20th century 
Creation date
20th Century; 1940s–1950s 
Function
art 
Acquisition
Dr. Lubor Hájek (1926-2000), the founder of the Oriental Art Collection in Prague purchased this painting in 1955 from the painter and graphic artist, Jaroslav Fišer (1919–2003), who had been a member of the Czechoslovak delegation to China and who proclaimed to have bought the work in 1955 in Shanghai from the artist himself. 
Copyright
National Gallery in Prague. 
Acknowledgements
Petra Polláková, Michaela Pejčochová, Lubor Hájek 
Owner
National Gallery in Prague. 
Museum
The National Gallery 
Credit line
National Gallery in Prague. 

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