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Fang Zhaoling, painter and mother of former HK No 2 official Anson Chan, dies at 92
2006-02-21 01:14:09 THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

HONG KONG, Feb 21 (AP) -- Fang Zhaoling, a celebrated Chinese painter and mother of Hong Kong's former No. 2 official Anson Chan, has died at age 92, news reports said Tuesday.

Fang died Monday in a hospital after efforts to treat her heart problems failed, the South China Morning Post reported, quoting a family member who did not want to be named.

Born in 1914 in the eastern Chinese city of Wuxi, Fang began studying painting in her teens with a succession of increasingly prestigious teachers in China. She started off learning flower-and-bird painting before specializing in landscapes.

But her career was disrupted by the births of her eight children, the death of her husband and the tumult of the Japanese occupation and the civil war in China.

She resumed in the early '50s and studied under Zhang Daqian, one of the most eminent Chinese painters of the 20th century.

Throughout the years, Fang held exhibitions around the world, including the United States, Britain, Switzerland, Germany, Australia, China and Japan.

Last year, her children, including Anson Chan, Hong Kong's former chief secretary seen as a key figure in the territory's transition from British to Chinese rule in 1997, donated 42 of her paintings to the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.

"From China to Europe, Hong Kong and America, her life and work have been shaped by a tumultuous century of social, political and artistic change," Michael Knight, the museum's senior curator of Chinese art, said before last year's exhibition. "Yet Fang's art remains distinctly rooted in Chinese tradition."

Anson Chan was in sorrow at her mother's death, her husband Archie Chan told Hong Kong's Commercial Radio.

Chan, who remains highly popular and influential despite quitting as head of the civil service in 2001, had praised her mother as a role model for her.

"I owe the strength and optimism in my character entirely to my mother," the paper quoted Chan as saying in a 1999 speech.

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