Sanyu - Pioneers of Modernism: A Selection from the Scheeres Collection Hong Kong Saturday, May 26, 2018 | Phillips
  • Provenance

    Kunstzaal van Lier, The Netherlands
    Private collection, The Netherlands
    Acquired from the above by the present owner

  • Literature

    Rita Wong, SANYU Catalogue Raisonne: Prints, Taipei, 2017, no. P40, p.139 (another example illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Under the tutelage and guidance of his father from a young age, Sanyu learned the skills of traditional Chinese seal carving; processes which would become central to the artist’s print-making. In his works from the 1930s, these skills are refined, and materialise in the artist’s later habit of carving patterns directly into impasto. From this, one senses the artist’s ability to transmute old skills, and his mastery of them. Most uniquely, though the artist’s roots in print-making are Chinese, Sanyu utilises Western tools such as metallic and rubber plates, differentiating himself from his Eastern counterparts in which wooden plates were most commonly used.

    In a traditional model of producing prints, an artist first meticulously engraves creations onto single plates, and then relies on professional printmakers and large imprinters for large productions. Due to high levels of production, artists depended on a mutual understanding and amicable relationship with printmakers, in order for the latter to accurately convey the artist’s creative spirit into each printed work.

    At the turn of the 20th Century, easy access to rubber plates in Europe facilitated artists to print more autonomously, without relying so heavily on outside factors. In 1932, Sanyu employed this method of production, making him one of the earliest artists to create prints in such a way.

    “The Linoleum should not be used as a cheap substitute for wood because it gives to a print its own special character, quite different from woodcut and therefore should be studied. The gouge is controlled directly by the sensibility of the engraver. Indeed, this is so true that the least distraction during the executing of a line causes a slight pressure of the fingers in the gouge and influences the drawing for the worse. Engraving in linolenum is a true medium for the painter illustrator.” - Henri Matisse (Quoted from Walter Lieberman, Matisse: 50 Years of His Graphic Works, New York, 1956, pp.13-14)

Pioneers of Modernism: A Selection from The Scheeres Collection


Reclining Leopard

signed and numbered 'Yu [in Chinese] SANYU' and '2/50' lower left and right respectively
linocut in black on paper
19 x 26 cm. (7 1/2 x 10 1/4 in.)
Executed in 1930s, this work is number 2 from an edition of 50.

HK$40,000 - 80,000 

Sold for HK$250,000

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Pioneers of Modernism: A Selection from the Scheeres Collection

Hong Kong Auction 27 May 2018