Riding a Water Buffalo, by Lee Man Fong (1913 – 1988)

May 26, 2022. 15:30 UTC
Riding a Water Buffalo, by Lee Man Fong (1913 – 1988)


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1. RESEARCH & ESSAY: The piece is exquisitely painted with a boy and a girl riding a Water Buffalo. The buffalo is a tapering-horned animal like a bull walking gracefully, painted in black layered with brownish green on its leather parts. Wearing a wide hat and short-sleeve shirt with a towel hanging around his neck and pants folded on his leg, the boy is depicted guiding the Water Buffalo. His right hand holds the leash while his left hand holds a piece of rice straw. The girl greatly enjoys hitchhiking on the back as well with her left hand holding onto his shoulder. All these scenes are decorated with a large and old dried tree and rocks with weeds growing around the ground. Two lines of black vertical Chinese poems calligraphy and a red round seal mark are written on the upper right, and a red square seal mark is on the lower left. ===== As a painter born in Guangzhou, China, Lee Man Fong was inspired from the Chinese painting technique and subject. Decorated in slightly abstract in quality and skillfully painted with rendering technique through brushstroke, Lee is highly respect depicting this subject with Chinese traditional painting techniques through well-executed brushstrokes in the xieyi (寫意) or freehand style in trailing the traditional Chinese painting art. The freehand style, like on this painting, is also called Southern or Literary style that means “wrote ideas”, and the brushstrokes are closer to the strokes in calligraphy. From early twentieth century, especially with establishment of the Republic of China and lustrous painting art development in Indonesia, the technique was developed and widely influenced by Europe techniques. On the present work, Lee executed and integrated the technique and ideas of Western painting into Chinese painting tradition. Hence, this artwork tends to be simple, bold, and flowing: somewhat impressionistic, paying little attention to detail. ===== Lee Man Fong grasped the philosophy of the meaning of a water buffalo expressed into this work. The nature of the Buffalo tends to be very methodical and slow, but people who have this zodiac are able to approach projects or assignments slowly though surely to the best for them. Water Buffalo (Bubalus arnee) is a type of animal indicated as Chinese native buffalo living in swamp and wild. This animal is believed to be a tame animal for 4000 years ago in Chinese empires. Water Buffalo is symbolized as perseverance and patience because its nature and behavior are slow yet tenacious and continues to step forward for sure. Lee Man Fong highly fathoms the taste of traditional Chinese art combined with Western painting technique. He is able to put the philosophy notions and the symbol of wild Water Buffalo (Bubalus arnee) into the art of beauty to be able to be experienced by each level of enthusiasts of the Southeast Asian arts beauty. ===== The interest in Southeast Asian artworks market indicates the strong demand. Like the current piece, the theme “Riding a water buffalo” painted by Lee Man Fong have been become prestigious choice and appetite among the prudent collectors. For example, a similar subject and style to the current piece is a “Riding a water buffalo”, sold at Larasati Singapore, dated 9th April 2005, lot. 20, sold for S$117,000 (see fig. 1). Compare with the Lee’s smaller painting (105 x 50.5 cm) depicted with the similar theme dated 1977, included in Oil Painting, Lee Man Fong, Vol. 2, Siont Teja, Art Retreat, Singapore, 2005, illustrated in color, p. 204. The piece was then sold at Borobudur – Singapore, dated 9th June 2012, lot. 165, estimated between S$100,000 to S$150,000 (SGD) and sold for S$292,800 or equivalent to US$227,564 (see fig. 2). ===== Citation: 1. Oil Painting, Lee Man Fong, Vol. 2, Siont Teja, Art Retreat, Singapore, 2005, p. 204.


Artist : Lee Man Fong (1913 – 1988) === Medium : Oil on Masonite board === Signature : Chinese poem & date at the upper left === Height : +/- 120 cm === Width : +/- 59.5 cm === Period/Date : 1977, acquired in 1977 === Country : China - Indonesia === Condition : Good === Re-Examined Date : 12th April 2016 === Authenticity # : P-1049/01/10/2001 ===


2. PROVENANCE: PROVENANCE OF ARTWORK: Lo Wing Tjong (1851 – 1934) to Liem Guan Kwee (22th September 1898 – 25th March 1985) to Liem Syuhada (12th June 1927 – 22nd April 2000) to Current Owners (Descendants) ===== The present painting was acquired directly from the artist in 2th April 1977 in Jakarta by Liem Guan Kwee (22th September 1898 – 25th March 1985), a son of Lo Wing Tjong, a Diplomat and Chinese community in Batavia Batavia under Guangxu reign (1875 – 1908) of China. As Liem Guan Kwee was an art and antique dealer, he travelled around the nation and visited the renowned artists in Jakarta, like Lee Man Fong, to acquire the valuable artworks for his business and collection at that time. Since the beginning of 1977 the student movement has re-emerged, they have launched actions in several big cities in Indonesia. In Jakarta, toward to general election in 1977, students identified a lot of fraudulence of general election in the field. The New Order government led by President Suharto used his power to influence the outcome of the democratic party. The student alliance issued a statement of concern over the General Election of 1977. The students' critical stance towards the implementation of this general election was manifested in a meeting among Indonesian students at IKIP campus in Rawamangaun on April 1, 1977. This meeting resulted in the "Indonesian Student Statement" to government. ===== In 2001, the present artwork was researched and authenticated by team of National Archaeology, Art and Culture Foundation in person deriving from Southeast Asia artworks, paintings and Chinese ceramics experts. The foundation itself was led by Professor Abu Ridho, an Asian art scholar and consultant, former curator of National Museum of Jakarta – Indonesia, and author of Chinese art books. The physical examination of this artwork and its authenticity is certified on an official letter of statement and agreement that was signed by professor and legalized by public notary ‘Royani, SH’, dated 8th April 2002. In 2004, the government of Republic of Indonesia recorded this legacy especially regarding with its authenticity, historical artwork and the ownership of property or legal rights. This artwork was appreciated and archived officially as a national cultural heritage object by Culture and Museum Agency of Government of Indonesia, Jakarta, number 863/-1-853.3, dated 14th April 2004. ===== In 2016, this artwork that had been researched and signed by Prof. Abu Ridho on Certificate of Authenticity, the present work was also re-researched by one of great grandsons, Faisal Hasan, who was graduated from Master of Art (MA) Program of LASALLE College of the Arts – Singapore with subject of Asian Art Histories. The great grandson re-examined and re-analyzed this artwork by more elaborate manner. This re-examination includes its technical or stylistic analysis, documentary research and comparison with similar artist or periods. All of them are relied on archives, art libraries and reputable art and antique commercial institutions or auction houses enabling to strongly establish its eligible quality and authenticity. ===== All documents and photos of its provenance and certificate of authenticity are included in separated page.

Answered within about 20 hours
May 27, 11:51 UTC
By David U.

Fair Market Value

$90,000 - $150,000 USD

Insurance Value

$0 USD
What does this mean?

Dear Faisal,

Thank you for choosing Mearto for your online appraisal. Based on these photos, I concluded that this item is:

This could be, indeed, an authentic painting made by one of the most sold-out artists Asia: Lee Man Fong (1913-1988), but it's beyond the scope of an online photo appraisal to do more than give you what it could be worth if it were authenticated and deemed right by an expert on the work of this specific scope of time and familiarized with it. Documents are provided that certify the origins, provenance and authentication of the piece.

This artist was a popular contemporary painter. Born in Guangzhou, China in 1913, he moved to Singapore when he was young, and then to Indonesia. The famous painter Lee Man Fong is a pioneer painter in Southeast Asia, and has made important contributions and influences on the Nanyang painting style.

Comparable examples - and their recent auction results - works are as follows:

This piece is in great condition and there is no serious damage visible in the images provided. The provenance is inherited. A fair market estimation is provided based on the minimum and maximum similar painting sold.

Please let us know if you have additional items to appraise.

Faisal hasan, ma May 27, 12:19 UTC

Dear David,

Thank you for your appraisal for this artwork. Your comment is detailed and elaborate description. I would like to get my collections appraised. Thanks for your help and suggestion.

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