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Australian art

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Fish traps, Peking



Ian Fairweather

Scotland, Australia

29 Sep 1891 - 20 May 1974


Ian Fairweather first went to China in 1929, where he studied Mandarin in Shanghai for a short time. He returned there in 1935, this time living in Peking (Beijing), where he isolated himself from other Europeans and continued lessons in the Chinese language and calligraphy. He spent much time drawing, as he had trouble finding paid work, and his impoverished condition meant he had to improvise with painting materials leading him to experiment with Chinese chalks, for example. Despite his poverty, he managed to produce a number of landscape oils, including 'Landscape near Peking'. It is among very few Fairweather paintings of Chinese subjects actually painted in China, although he later made drawings and paintings from memory or drawings produced during his time there. Fairweather left China permanently in 1936 but its legacy remained with him, infusing his art for the rest of his life.

Australian Art Department, AGNSW, 2000


Other Title

Landscape near Peking

Alternative title

Walls of China

Place where the work was made

Beijing China



Media category


Materials used

oil on cardboard


52.3 x 48.8 cm sight; 68.3 x 64.8 x 3.2 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed l.r. corner, black (ink?) "IF". Not dated.


Purchased with assistance from Katies 1982


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Ian Fairweather

Artist profile

Works in the collection


Shown in 5 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 6 publications


Murray Bail, Ian Fairweather, 'Peking, 1935', pg. 38-45, Sydney, 2009, 44 (colour illus.), 247. plate no. 23; 30; titled 'Fish Traps, Peking'

Deborah Edwards, Australian art: in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Mosaic and figure', pg. 213-214, Sydney, 2000, 228 (colour illus.), 300.

John McDonald, Australian painters of the twentieth century, 'Ian Fairweather', pg. 28-39, Sydney, 2000, 32 (colour illus.).

Barry Pearce, Look, 'Ian Fairweather's Chinese encounter', pg. 28-31, Sydney, Aug 2004, 31 (colour illus.).

Barry Pearce and Patrick McCaughey, Twentieth century Australian masterworks from the Art Gallery of New South Wales and the Fred Williams Pilbara Series, Tokyo, 1985, 18 (colour illus.). 3

East of the Sun, Sydney, 1997. List of works