Yang Hao, who lived in Europe for several years, established an art organization, Boundless Arts Collection (BAC), in 2014 after she returned to China. She has since been focused on promoting paintings created by Western masters in China. Her dream is to become a caring, learned and careful person who promotes art exchanges between China and Western countries.
Yang, who is proficient in both English and German, has a master's degree, in art history, from the University of St Andrews, in Scotland (the United Kingdom), and a second master's degree, in art and business, from Sotheby's Institute of Art, in London, capital of the UK.
"I studied the histories of paintings created during the Renaissance (a cultural and intellectual movement that swept Europe during the 14th-17th centuries) at the University of St Andrews. My mentor is Peter Humfrey, a world-renowned expert on Renaissance paintings. He is also Renaissance counselor with the National Gallery, in London. My classmates and I were the last group of postgraduates that he taught before he retired," Yang says.
Humfrey once had an important project: Sorting out the collection of James Hamilton, (1606-1649) the first Duke of Hamilton. Participants were required to speak German while they completed the project. As Yang was proficient in German, she got involved in the project. She read 60 English letters, written during the 17th century, and she was allowed to check relevant records at the private library of the Duke of Hamilton.
"I studied old English, from the 17th century, to read the letters. I sorted out the huge collection of the Hamilton family. I also visited an archive in Vienna, which was not open to the public, to conduct research. I enjoyed the pleasure of exploring and discovering during my work," Yang says.
Humfrey once told Yang that one who studied art history should also obtain knowledge about art collections. During her four years in the UK, Yang visited many castles, mansions, museums and art galleries, and she also perused many private collections. "Tiziano Vecellio (1488-1576) is one of the artists that I most admire. He is perfect as an artist," she says.
Yang began collecting paintings when she was in the UK. She likes collecting pieces that have the marks of previous collectors. For example, she had a sketch by Jan van Goyen (1596-1656), a famous landscape painter from the Netherlands. The sketch had a small stamp in the bottom right corner, and that stamp had been marked by a collector during the 17th century. One of Yang's pieces, created by Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863), a famous French painter, also had a mark left by a previous collector.
"I have so many pieces that have the marks of their previous collectors. I can see the connections between people and works of art, and I have gotten to know who owned the pieces in which periods. Such stories about the classic works of art may not be found when people collect contemporary works of art," Yang says.
In addition to BAC, Yang also established a publishing house, Boundless Books. BAC and Boundless Books are affiliated with Boundless Times Ltd., an arts and culture company.
"We want Chinese to have the opportunity to see and understand real Western classical art. We have participated in several exhibitions and exchange activities. For example, 17 of BAC's pieces were exhibited during the first Silk Road (Dunhang) International Cultural Expo last year. We have also organized art forums and workshops at art colleges and universities," Yang says. As a young scholar, collector and publisher, Yang often gives lectures on Western art history at art galleries and art colleges and universities.
She says she and her colleagues currently place an emphasis on publishing books on art history and masterpieces of art. In January 2017, Boundless Books published three books on the collections of Tiziano Vecellio, Italian painter Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (1571-1610) and French painter Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres (1780-1867). Humfrey wrote the book on Tiziano Vecellio. Andrew Shelton, an art history professor from the United States, wrote the book on Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, while Catherine Puglisi, an art history professor from the US, wrote the book on Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio.
"I want to present an 'art gallery on paper' to our readers. The books are like a small museum, and whoever likes it will find an answer in it. The books have a lot of impressive pictures of paintings and professional interpretations of the works of art, from the writers' angles," Yang says.
(Executive Editor: WANG SHASHA, Women of China English Monthly June 2017 Issue)
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