We can offer this exceptionally large landscape view in carved cork and watercolour.
Titled in English:
with a presentation label beneath:
Manager, Eastern Extension Telegraph Co. Ltd.
>From Local and Chinese Staffs, Hong Kong Branch,
on the occasion of his retirement. 19th December 1931.”
With a watered silk covered mount; plain wooden frame; glazed.
Total size: 154 x 47 cm.Cork pictures of this size are extremely unusual and would only have been undertaken by the most skilled artists. We are fortunate that in this case we have the details of both the artist and place of creation, as well as the true title of the piece. It is uncommon to be able to ascribe pieces to particular workshops or artists.
Artist: CHAN Tim Fat
Place: Changle, Fujian
Title: Dawn on the Su Causeway in Spring.
It is not clear why the English title reads Hangchow and (Shanghai) as they are two distinct places in China: the Su Causeway is in Hangzhou (Hangchow). Perhaps the people presenting it didn’t think that the recipient would know the difference!
The Su Causeway was built by the eponymous Su Dongpo in the 11th Century and ‘Dawn on the Su Causeway in Spring’ became a classic view, one of the recommended attractions for visitors to the region.
The art of cork carving is a relatively recent one, according to popular tradition, having been started in Fuzhou close to Changle in Fujian province in around 1910, although it was not until the import of landscape pictures from Germany in around 1913 or 1915 that the pioneers incorporated the Chinese aesthetic with the western to create cork landscapes. The 1930s saw the next step from postcard-sized simple carvings to the larger bas-relief examples [one of which we have here].
Although we have been unable to trace the artist with the tools to hand it is possible that searches on Chinese media would be able to track down both the workshop and artist. Certainly he was a master of his craft and he was in all likelihood one of the pioneers of the expansion of this art form.
Nowadays cork sculptures have been debased, with many being mass produced and machine made. To find a large, early, unique, dated and signed example with a traceable provenance must be unusual; I have been unable to trace anything similar.
Due to the delicate nature of this piece we will be unable to ship outside the U.K. although we can deliver to a shipper of your choice who will be responsible for packing, shipping and insurance.