IAC Art Talks Lecture 3: Chance Encounters: Untold Tales of Great Journeys made by some Chinese Paintings found in Australia by Yvett Klein (Catch up Online)

The event was held on Thursday 22 June 2023


Much has been said about Chinese paintings. In academic discourse, what’s often overlooked are the many untold tales of how art moves with people as a result of tremendous life events. In this talk, I’d like to share with my audience my chance encounters with many great paintings, whose artists include among others Yun Shouping (惲壽平 1633-1690), Wu Dongfa (吳東發 1747-1803), Pu Ru (溥儒 1896-1963), Xu Beihong (徐悲鴻 1895-1953), C. C. Wong (王己千 1907-2003) and Irene Chou (周綠云 1924-2011), along with the many stories told to me by their previous or current owners. Some survived air raids, others revolutions and earthquakes. Many moved with their respective families due to war. One particular painting changed hands with a spectacular chain of fateful events. These paintings are themselves great art. They carry within themselves a wealth of historical and cultural significance. One can also catch a glimpse of how Chinese paintings evolved through the ages. How they sustained sometimes generations of vicissitudes and ended up in Australia is a hidden narrative of migration, cultural exchange and wonderful personal histories intertwined within a larger one. Many of these stories are left out of the auction catalogues, but when my time with these paintings is up, these are the stories that have stayed with me.

About the Speaker

Yvett Klein joined Bonhams in 2011 as an Asian Art Specialist and works closely with Bonhams international Asian Art department. Yvett holds two master's degrees from the University of Sydney in Museum Studies (2010), and in Art History (2012). For the latter, she was awarded the Francis Stuart Prize for outstanding research in Asian Art.

Under Yvett's management, the Asian art department in Australia has seen exponential growth with frequent record-breaking results. In late 2017, a Chinese landscape attributed to Fu Baoshi from a Singapore/ Sydney family achieved for AU$3,172,000 including premium, an auction record for any work of Asian art sold in Australia. In 2018, the two sales featuring Chinese paintings from the same collection brought AU$6,947,925. Other highlights include the sale of the Franca Arena collection of Chinese snuff bottles (May 2016, Sydney), the Larry Lucas Collection of the Asian works of art (November 2018, Sydney). Internationally, Yvett has consigned key works from Australian collections to salerooms in Hong Kong, London and New York and in 2018, consigned the Reid Family collection of Early Chinese ceramics and works of art to Bonhams London which achieved outstanding results.

Yvett has a particular interest in Chinese paintings and calligraphy. She has contributed to The Asian Arts Society of Australia (TAASA) Review, and holds lectures biannually for the society. She has also presented guest lectures for the Sydney University MA program of Curating Asian Art. She is fluent in English and Mandarin.

Wu Dongfa (1747-1803), Fang Mengkui (18th/19th century), Wu Zilü (18th/19th century) (PART)