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The ‘Iceland eagle’ by Lee Man Fong

By 29 augustus 2018juli 15th, 2019No Comments

In June 2017 we auctioned an Eagle by Lee Man Fong for € 450.000 (hammer price). A record for the typical ‘scroll’-shaped paintings by this artist. At that time, everybody thought it was the only Eagle that Man Fong ever made.
To my surprise I received in the end of February an email from a Dutch family who had moved to the north of Iceland, close to the polar circle. They told me they had two paintings by Lee Man Fong, and one of them was another eagle!

Lee Man Fong (1913-1988)

Actually, they never knew who the artist was. The paintings were signed in Chinese, and since they couldn’t read that, they didn’t know. Recently however, they found an invoice from 1950, and there the name Lee Man Fong was written.

After that they discovered quite quickly that they had not only two beautiful paintings, but also that these were very valuable nowadays as well!

Lee Man Fong (1913 – 1988)

The other painting turned out to be very interesting too. In a minimalistic way the artist created a painting which suggests greath deph and the serene atmosphere of a tranquil morning. The painting reminds me of of 'Willows and fishermen' that we sold in December 2017 (lot 80) for € 270.000 (hammer price).
The pine tree represents longevity, virtue, and solitude, and, along with the plum and bamboo trees, is considered one of the "Three Friends of Winter." These "three friends" are three trees that stay evergreen and, in the case of the plum tree, blossom during the winter. The pine tree is also a popular symbol of the New Year.
It is interesting to see that Lee Man Fong valued this painting nearly just as important as the Eagle. The price for the Eagle was 250 Dutch guilders, while the price for the other one was 200 Dutch guilders.

When I read their email, I became very exited and wanted to fly to Iceland soon. I told them, but they warned me for the artic conditions. Because I also would travel to Indonesia soon, I decided to go with my family and spent a holiday on Iceland in June.

We arrived on the 20th of June, around 1.45 PM and travelled to the north. We expected to arrive around 8 PM, but that proved to be too optimistic. Maximum speed in Iceland is 90 km/h, and due to the harsh winter conditions, the roads need a lot of maintenance, and that’s only possible in the short summer period. Beside that, you have to be careful for the many sheep that walk on the road, especially in the more remote area’s.
Instead of arriving at our house in the evening, we arrived after midnight! But: we didn’t have to hurry, because it doesn’t get dark there in the summer (in winter however, the days are very short).
The farm in summer time
The family lived in a very remote, but beautiful area. The address consisted of the name of their farm and the name of the village. The village was actually 30 minutes from their house. No street name or number.
They owned a large piece of land (including a mountain and a waterfall!), and planted trees for the government. Before the Vikings came, Island was covered with forests, but nowadays most of the country has no trees.

My son and wife with one of the Icelandic horses at the farm

Planting trees in the north of Iceland is still pioneering. By trial and error they try to find out which races grow well and survive. It’s no so easy as just taking trees from Scandinavia and plant them there. The climate is different. Iceland is for example the 3rd windiest place on earth (a whale watching guide told me), the other two places are not inhabited by the way. The wind speed sometimes even exceeds 12 Bft (hurricane level)!
At the farm in winter time
Many other stories can be told about our visit. All in all, we had a wonderful time in Iceland, an adventure we will never forget!

This photo was taken during the whale watching tour that we made. We saw even a whale swimming about 50 meters from our house!
One of the spectacular waterfalls in Iceland: The Gulfoss
As you can see, It's recommended to wear winter clothes in Iceland during summer!

The Gulfoss


More information about these paintings and our Indonesian auctions:
René de Visser
Zeeuws VeilinghuisHerengracht 744331 PX Middelburg0031 (0)