Researching something online can be a long and winding process, but more often than not it ends with at least a tidbit of satisfying information that makes the search worthwhile. Then there are the frustrating attempts at digging that go from one dead end to another, leaving you in the end not a whit the wiser. That’s been the problem in researching a Chinese painter recently. It started with the gift of a signed painting from a friend. At the start there was some hope that the painter’s name and date of birth would lead somewhere, but that resulted in another dead end. Could be that the American art dealer who sold the painting to my friend years back misunderstood the Chinese name, but that’s only an uncertain possibility.
A slip of paper glued to the back of the frame offers this half measure of information:
Marson Ltd. 78-41-191
Li Chien • Peking, China (1945- )
Original Grass Paper Painting
Mere guess that the first portion is a dealer’s name and an inventory number; the second part the artist’s name, place and year of birth. The last refers to the type of paper the artist used. Grass paper is a rough and inexpensive kind of paper, often used for calligraphy.
Meanwhile, a query has been sent to friends in China along with a photograph, and just maybe they will get back to me with some further information. For the time being I continue to enjoy the painting even with the mystery hanging over it.