McDougal Fine Art 781.248.7500
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Gloucester, Massachusetts 01930

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David Wu Ject-Key 

(1890-1968)

“One ought everyday to hear a little music, read a good poem, see a fine painting, and if possible speak a few kind words.”1 Sentiments spoken by an extraordinary man. Born in Chung Shan and trained at the Royal Academy of Canada, Mr. Wu, as he was addressed by his Chinese friends, spent the majority of his adult life in America, yet was always proud of his Chinese heritage and was very active in numerous organizations in New York’s Chinatown. Reflective of the extreme discipline evident in Chinese-born and trained artists, David attended medical school for a period, not to become a doctor but to really learn the human anatomy. He served as an assistant to the great figure painter, author, and teacher George Bridgman, until Bridgman kindly asked him to leave the class because he was eclipsing the teacher’s skill and, frankly, making him look bad. A very young David Ject-Key, freshly out of art school, met an even younger blond Danish girl named Elsie on tour with the Royal Danish Ballet. They fell in love, married, and became an unlikely couple and both accomplished artists (both with extensive listings in Who Was Who)—she a modernist and he a traditionalist. My wife and I were fortunate to spend many evenings with David and Elsie, both at the Salmagundi Club auctions and dinners and at their studio apartment in New York with an eclectic, if not occasionally eccentric, gathering of fellow artists and friends. Amid the chatter and din of the evening I could hear Elsie and my wife keeping their native Danish tongue refreshed. Looking back, between the Danish and David’s thick Cantonese accent, I rarely knew exactly what was going on, but it was always a lot of fun. Three paintings by David are in the collection, all figural work. The Lady in Purple occupies a special place, it was a wedding gift from Elsie in 1970. The other two pieces were acquired in 1967 and 1968 from the Grand Central Gallery and the Salmagundi Club auctions. So complete was David and Elsie’s life together that at the time of David’s death, Elsie asked a friend and member of the Chung Shan Association, a group David helped form many years earlier, “Is this cemetery only for the men of the Chung Shan Association?” The reply, “It is a cemetery for Chinese people, and you are one of us.”

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