Retired doctor donates rare art book by Madame Chiang Kai-shek to Hope College collection

In 1937, Life magazine called her "probably the most powerful woman in the world.' In 1976, however, Madame Chiang Kai-shek was a grateful patient who thanked her physician with a unique gift: a limited-edition book featuring lithographs of landscapes she had painted.
Anonymous
Jan 28, 2012

 

The volume is now a part of the Rare Book Collection at Hope, given in turn to the college by that physician — Dr. George Zuidema — and his wife, Joan, for others to enjoy and study.

Published in 1962 as a private limited edition, the book contains 24 color landscapes reproduced from the original artwork, along with a foreword from Madame Chiang’s husband regarding her paintings. It is being featured until Friday, Feb. 24, on the main floor of Hope College’s Van Wylen Library, part of an on-going series of displays featuring significant materials from the college’s collection.

“The paintings depict the serenity of nature and Chinese culture, an interesting contrast to the tumultuous life of Madame Chiang,” said Kelly Jacobsma, an associate professor at Hope.

Jacobsma noted that Madame Chiang, who died in 2003 at age 105, took up painting relatively late in life, in around 1953. She first exhibited her paintings in January 2000 at the World Journal Art Gallery in New York and in February 2000 at San Francisco’s Asian Art Museum.

Born Mayling Soong, Madame Chiang was raised as a Christian and graduated from Wellesley College in 1917. She and her husband were married from 1927 until his death in 1975. Chiang Ka-shek led China from the latter 1920s until the communists took control in 1949, subsequently leading Taiwan.

As one reflection of her prominence, Madame Chiang was on the cover of Time magazine three times: in 1931, 1938 and 1943.

Following her husband’s death, she immigrated to her family’s estate on Long Island in New York. It was while living in the U.S. that she came under the care of Zuidema, a 1949 Hope graduate who was serving as professor and director of the department of surgery at the Johns Hopkins Hospital and Medical School in Baltimore, Md.

While the hospital was accustomed to serving prominent patients, Madame Chiang was at an entirely different level.

“Her party took over the entire third floor of the Wilmer Eye Clinic,” Zuidema recalled. “The Taiwanese Secret Service controlled one end of the hall, and the U.S. Secret Service the other.”

To read more of this story, see today's edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.

 

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