Sunday, July 13, 2008

Mysterious Watercolour

Once in a while, a gem emerges unexpectedly. This piece of painting was sent to me eight hours ago from a Mr Clive McDonald.
Clive said: "As far as I know it was commissioned by a distant relative of mine in the late 19th or early 20th century, while working in Malaya (then called) and has been passed down the family ever since."

From my limited experience, and knowledge, and insufficiently inadequate, I am afraid, I think this is a picture of a highlands Chinese farm. It could be anywhere from Cameron Highlands to unknown places of lesser altitude. (Or it could be in Japan - the architecture looks like those of old Japan, I feel)

Amazingly, this is a pretty accurate rendition of a farm house. The plants you see are probably some kind of vine - maybe longbeans? - and those with yellow flowers, I am guessing, are what Chinese mustards, called choysam in cantonese or sawi in Malay. At maturity, the flowers are lemon yellow in colour although here they appear to be quite a lot planted on such a small bed. I don't know what the blue flowered plants are though.
Look underneath the eaves of the house - the tiny bunch of poles are bamboo used for making trellises for for climbing plants. I am more certain that this is a local scenery. There is a signature which appears to be a Chinese name, with a seal.
I am not sure what the seal's inscriptions are because the image is too small to decipher - and because it is written in old Chinese script, it is even harder to understand. The signature also does'nt ring familiar.
I cannot say who is the painter and if anyone out there knows or have a collection of paintings of similar signature and style, please share your views with Mr Clive McDonalds. This picture could be worth a fortune, who knows?

The signature

1 comment:

Cathy Gatland said...

Isn't this lovely - I am busy reading 'Mao's Last Dancer' by Li Cunxin, so even more interesting to me! I think the blue flowers are hydrangeas, which originate from Japan.