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The Jane Miller Chai Collection of Modern Chinese Paintings

Turner Auctions + Appraisals is pleased to feature the Jane Miller Chai Collection of Modern Chinese Paintings. Offering 20 lots acquired over 40+ years, the small but significant collection features works by noted artists Li Keran (1907-1989), Zhu Qizhan (1892-1996), Cui Zifan (1915-2011) and Ding Yanyong (1902-1978). An antique work by Dong Bangda (1699-1769) is also included in the collection.

Born in Southern California in 1938, Jane Miller Chai had a long and distinguished career as a journalist, editor, teacher and author on matters related to Asia. After graduating from Stanford University in Far Eastern History, she held a number of positions that reflected her interest in Asian culture and passion for Asian arts. She was Editor for Asia at the Japanese Reader’s Digest in Tokyo. At the Associated Press headquarters in New York, she was a division head, with a focus on Asia. In more recent years, Jane Miller Chai was Associate Professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, and taught on the San Francisco peninsula on subjects such as Southeast Asia, Central Asia, and the Silk Road (from China to Rome). She wrote Tiger and the Hare, a semi-autobiographical historical novel set during the Vietnam War; and was co-author of Pacific Security with Dr. Claude A. Buss, her Far Eastern History professor at Stanford. Mrs. Chai passed away in 2017.

According to her son, Neil Chai, the paintings were collected at least since the mid-1970s. Some were acquired when Mrs. Chai lived and traveled in Southeast Asia, and some through an art dealer and close friend in San Francisco. Blessed with a good eye and good taste, Mrs. Chai had a love for Chinese paintings, scrolls and vases, and Asian antiquities that was founded in her university education and professional experiences in Far Eastern cultures. The passion, enjoyment and appreciation of Asian arts continued throughout her life. Her acquisitions created pleasure both for her personally and for her family at their Bay Area home. She had numerous other interests as well – she served on the Board of the U.N. Council, was an enthusiastic advocate for Stanford University and its museum, and enjoyed music and sports, especially tennis.  

Gifted with the collection by his mother, Mr. Chai is selling the paintings now to fulfill his mother’s intention that proceeds be put toward the education of his two young daughters.

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