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Plum blossom



Shanyue Guan


1912 - 2000


In the early years of the 20th century the development of the southern school of painting in China was greatly influenced by the brothers Ju Chao and Ju Lian, who advocated painting from life and stressed the importance of observing directly from life. This was of course a Western approach to painting, an approach that was subsequently adopted by Gao Jianfu, Chen Shuren and Gao Qifeng. Out of this innovative group which gave such momentum to a new movement in Chinese painting was born the ‘Lingnan School’.

Guan Shanyue was a pupil of Gao Jianfu and was, therefore, from the earliest influenced by the Lingnan School. Gao admitted Guan tuition-free into his ‘Spring Slumber Studio’ where the pupil studied traditional Chinese painting. In the spirit of the new approach of the Lingnan School Guan walked out of the studio and directed his attentions and energies to painting from nature and the life around him.

In the 1940’s Guan decided to travel, see and experience the Chinese countryside. He travelled through the provinces of Guangxi, Guizhou, Yunnan, Sichuan, Tibet, Qinghai, Gansu and Shaanxi. He thus experienced the desert regions of the Gobi, the rich wooded highlands of Yunnan and Sichuan, and the awe-inspiring peaks of Tibet. The experiences of those travels inspired him to an even greater emphasis on painting from life and to seek new and innovative styles and approaches.

After the establishment of New China in 1949 Guan held various teaching appointments including Professor and Chairman of the Chinese Painting Department at the Guangzhou Municipal College of Arts, Professor of the Huanan College of Arts and Literature, Professor and Vice-Principal of the Guangzhou College of Arts. However, his teaching responsibilities did not interrupt his activities as a painter specialising in landscapes and plum blossoms, subjects in which he fulfilled his fresh and inspired vision.

Guan Shanyue travelled extensively in Europe, America and the Far East, and also held exhibitions throughout China and, in 1982, in Japan. As Deputy-Chairman of the Chinese Artists Association, a committee member of the Federation of Chinese Arts and Literature World and Professor of the Guangzhou Arts College, Guan was a known and respected member of the Chinese artists’ community, but above all, he was a great and innovative painter of the creative and evolving Lingnan School.

Excerpt from ‘Two Chinese Modern Masters’, AGNSW, 1985, pg.1.


Place where the work was made




Media category


Materials used

hanging scroll; ink and colour on paper


44.5 x 60.0 cm

Signature & date

Signed u.l., in Chinese, inscribed in black ink "…Guan Shanyue in 1985".
Signed c.l., in Chinese, stamped in red ink "Guan Shanyue [artist's seal]".


Gift of the artist 1985


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Shanyue Guan

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 2 exhibitions

Exhibition history

  • The four seasons, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Jun 1989–Jul 1990

  • Chinese Painting, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 27 Nov 1991–27 Jan 1992

Referenced in 2 publications


Jacqueline Menzies, The 4 seasons, 'Flowers', not paginated., Sydney, 1989, (colour illus.) not paginated [chart].

Exhibition catalogue; Two Chinese Modern Masters; 1985, Sydney, 3 (colour illus.).