Further Biographical Context for Ma Henian
Born in 1912, Ma Henian grew up during the 1930s and was inspired by the artistic culture of the time. Internationally this period can be best characterised by the conflict between the world’s dominant political philosophies - Marxist Socialism, Capitalist Democracy, and the Totalitarianism of both Communism and Fascism. In the Soviet Union, Stalin’s government required urgent funds to implement the rapid industrialisation demanded by the first Five Year Plan. It initiated a secret strategy to sell off treasures from the State Hermitage Museum in Leningrad (St. Petersburg), including a preliminary list of two hundred and fifty rare paintings by the Old Masters, many of which found their way to the collection of Andrew Mellon via the New York based art dealing company, Knoedler.