Title:Album of Ten Leaves, Figures and Landscapes
h: Bailong shanjen, Mei-hua kuan-chu, Chüeh-ch'i
Wang Chen was closely tied to the school of Shanghai artists active in the early part of the twentieth century and studied with Jen I, whose works can be seen elsewhere in the exhibition. Wang's paintings reflect this influence, particularly in being highly calligraphic. He was a devout Buddhist, a revolutionary, and a businessman in a period of great turmoil in China.
"Wang Chen is an artist who has only recently begun to be taken seriously. He was overshadowed by Wu Ch'ang-shih, for whom he sometimes ghost-painted, and also suffered from having painted too much, often repetitively. He did hundreds of pictures for Japanese friends and visitors to Shanghai - he was a comprador for a Japanese company - and his works could be found in Japan at the Yûshima Seidô [the Confucian temple in Tokyo] in some number and very cheap. But this album, a relatively early work, is special. The pictures of beggars, in particular, are sensitive and moving, and in the tradition of the great Chou Ch'en series. (The Huang Shen Beggars and Street Entertainers in this exhibition, fine as they are in their way, are comparatively soft, and have less impact.) Wang's paintings of such subjects, not many, relate to his prominence as a philanthropist and organizer of relief funds in Shanghai."