Chang Dai-chien (Zhang Daqian) (Chinese artist)



2015-06-26 11:22:15

Chang Dai-chien (1899-1983) was one of the best known 20th century Chinese painters.


Brief History/biography

Chang Dai-chien, also known as Zhang Daqian, came from a family of artists. He studied textile dying techniques in Japan, returning to China to sell paintings in Shanghai.

He emigrated to the West from China in 1949 due to the political climate, and travelled widely. He settled in Brazil and then California for a considerable time, inspired by the Monterey pines which reminded him of Chinese trees. He finally settled in Taiwan.

While abroad, the Cultural Revolution occurred in China and Chang Dai-chien’s work and family were specifically targeted, much of his art destroyed.

When Chang met Picasso in 1956, it was viewed as an encounter between the paramount masters of Eastern and Western art.

Chang was also known as one of the best forgers of the 20th century, having forged numerous paintings by great Chinese masters. It is still unknown how many of these works owned by museums are in fact by Chang Dai-chien.


Chang was originally known as a guohua, or traditionalist painter, but by the 1960s he was a renowned modern impressionist and expressionist painter.

In the late 1950s, Chang’s eyesight began to deteriorate and as a result he developed his ‘pocai’ or splashed colour style that reflected Abstract Expressionism.

Notable sales

  • Separation sold for HK$34,260,000 (US$4,434,248) at Christie’s in May 2012

*Self portrait in the yellow mountains sold for HK$46,580,000 (US$5,984,440) at Sotheby’s in October 2011

  • Cabbage, Mushrooms and Raddish (1961) sold for US$98,500 at Bonhams in September 2012.
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