Chinese painters have always sought inspiration from nature; thus, it is not surprising that all longed to possess a garden of their own, to create their own Eden, to observe the seasonal changes of flowers and trees. Even the rustling of the leaves and pitter patter of the rain produced limitless inspiration and enjoyment.
According to Pai Yang's records, Zhang Daqian's Eight Virtues Garden was an expanse of 30 hectares, with a pond that collected rain water. The pond had five pavilions to add flavour to the landscape and act as resting spots, as well as shelter from the rain - many of Zhang's paintings took inspiration from the sheets of rain that poured down, influencing his now famous pomo splashed ink paintings.
Temple at the Mountain Peak was previously sold at Christie's Hong Kong in 1996, from the collection of Li Deying, the wife of Li Zhulai. With a friendship spanning over two generations, Zhang had close ties with the Li family, in particular with Li's third daughter, Li Qiujun. Well-known for their platonic relationship, both enjoyed the intellectual stimulation the other provided, to the extent where Zhang relied on the Li family to oversee his business concerns from 1949. The Li family also helped organize the Recent Paintings by Chang Dai-Chien exhibition in 1971 at the Hong Kong City Hall.
Temple at the Mountain Peak confronts us with a staggering mountain that is both monumental in scale and visually impressive. Through the hues of blue and green, Zhang gives credence to his own philosophy: "the best brush strokes are gentle but not effete, bold but not wild, profound yet clear". Zhang's composition lends an air of mystery, with the gold colour of the paper adding resplendence to the landscape, its shimmering surface evoking the glow of the setting sun. This work was specially mounted in Zhang's studio in Japan, decorated with a special scroll knob with Zhang's seal "three thousand Daqian's (san qian da qian) ".