The family of the late philanthropist Ho Iu-kwong has donated an art collection comprising 355 items, including ancient Chinese paintings and calligraphy, to the Hong Kong Museum of Art.
The art treasure, estimated to be worth around HK$3.8 billion, marks the largest donation of its kind to the museum since 2003, according to the Hong Kong Economic Journal.
The Museum of Art will display the collection in a special gallery, to be named “Chih Lo Lou Gallery of Chinese Painting and Calligraphy”, when it reopens in 2019 after some ongoing renovation work.
The collection, which includes several Ming loyalist artworks from the time between the Ming and Qing dynasties, had been housed in the late billionaire’s private library, “Chih Lo Lou”.
Ming loyalists depicted their patriotism to the falling dynasty, with lofty aspirations and nobility and integrity, in the artworks, noted Szeto Yuen-kit, curator of the Museum of Art’s Chinese Painting and Calligraphy collection.
Their virtue and nobility still shine from the artworks they left behind, he added.
The international art community highly respects the collection, which only includes works by artists of irreproachable character because of Ho Iu-kwong’s emphasis on the integrity and virtue of artists over the artworks’ quality.
Ho Sai-chu, the son of Ho Iu-kwong and the chairman of Chih Lo Lou Art Promotion — a non-profit arts promotion entity controlled by the family — said the donation is aimed at keeping the collection from being separated again, as his father hoped.
Chief executive Carrie Lam participated in the donation ceremony that took place at her official residence. During the event, she praised Ho Iu-kwong for his contribution to the protection of invaluable Chinese cultural assets.
Lam encouraged other private collectors to donate their collections to public museums.
Ho Iu-kwong, the founder of construction firm Fook Lee, was born in 1907, shortly before the 1911 Chinese revolution. He died in 2006.
The name of his library, Chih Lo Lou, means “bliss house”, a reference to the pleasure that one can get from appreciating ancient artworks as well as from performing good deeds.
The last major donation to the Museum of Art was made in 2003 by Linda Chang, who donated 818 Chinese New Literati paintings.