Inscription of artist in the left edge: Painted in the first year of the T'ien-ch'i reign (1621), autumn, seventh month, sixteenth day, at Sheng-hu t'ien-she. Sheng Mao-yeh. (T'ien-ch'i yüan-nien ch'iu chi-yüeh chi-wang hsieh yü sheng-hu t'ien-she). Seal of artist: Mao-lin hsiu-chu jen-chia, Fang-wai-she, Nien-an chü-shih, Fang-ch'ing ch'iu-ho, Mao-yeh chih-yin, Yü-hua fu. Additional inscriptions and seals: Box label: Nien-an Sheng Mao-yeh hsiu-ch'i chüan, Sheng Mao-yeh pi Lan-t'ing ch'ü-shui mi-hua chüan. Seals: (unidentified) T'ai (?)-chou pi-ts'ang.
Handscroll depicting figures (42 men and 6 boys) in a landscape, most of whom are sitting along the banks of a stream as cups on lotus leaves float by. A small cluster of figures sits in a shelter over the water examining a handscroll. The painting includes an inscription, six artist’s seals and one collector’s seal.
This elegant handscroll brings to life a famous historical event, a literary gathering of forty-one scholars celebrating the annual Spring Purification Festival at the Orchid Pavilion in the city of Shaoxing, Zhejiang province. Held on the third day of the third month in the year 353, on this special occasion literati enjoyed a ritual drinking game which incorporated composing poetry. Cups of wine, resting on large leaves, were floated down a stream and if a scholar could not recite a suitable poem, he had to drink a cup of wine. The celebration grew ever merrier as retrieving wine cups became more precarious.
What made this particular gathering so memorable was the presence of the great calligrapher Wang Xizhi (303–361). Inside the pavilion Wang is seated at a table writing his preface to the collected poems of this gathering. His preface, which vividly describes the event and laments the rapid passage of time, is a classic of Chinese literature and calligraphy.
This vertical composition consists of tall, thin trees in the foreground, with a lone boatman floating beneath and behind them. As the scene stretches upwars, mountains take up a dominant position in the picture, stretching toward the sky. Above them is calligraphic text.
Inscription of artist: A summer day, 1618; Chao Tso (Wu-wu hsia-jih Chao Tso). Seals of artist: Wen-tu Chao Tso. Label: Ming Chao Tso, Luxuriant Streams and Mountains, fan painting; authentic work, executed in 1618.
Inscription by Wen Cheng-ming in the right: (writing of T'ao Ch'ien's "Peach Blossom Spring") During the reign-period T'ai-yüan (326-97) of the Chin dynasty there lived in Wu-ling a certain fisherman. One day, as he followed the course of a stream, he became unconscious of the distance he had traveled. All at once he came upon a grove of blossoming peach trees which lined either bank for hundreds of paces. No tree of any other kind stood amongst them, but there were fragrant flowers, declicate and lovely to the eye, and the air was filled with drifting peachbloom. The fisherman, marveling, passed on to discover where the grove would end. It ended at a spring; and then there came a hill. In the side of the hill was a small opening which seemed to promise a gleam of light. The fisherman left his boat and entered the opening. It was almost too cramped at first to afford him passage; but when he had taken a few dozen steps he emerged into the open light of day. He faced a spread of level land. Imposing buildings stood among rich fields and pleasant ponds all set with mulbery and willow. Linking paths led everywhere, and the fowls and dogs of one farm could be heard from the next. People were coming and going and working in the fields. Both the men and the women dressed in exactly the same manner as people outside; white-haired elders and tufted children alike were cheerful and contented. Some, noticing the fisherman, started in great surprise and asked him where he had come from. He told them his story. They then invited him to their home, where they set out wine and killed chikens for a feast. When news of his coming spread through the village everyone came in to question him. For their part they told him how their forefathers, fleeing from the troubles of the age of Ch'in, had come with their wives and neighbors to this isolated place, never to leave it. From that time on they had been cut off from the outside world. They asked what age was this: they had never even heard of the Han, let alone its successors the Wei and the Chin. The fisherman answered each of their questions in full, and they sighed and wondered at what he had to tell. The rest all invied him to their homes in turn, and in each house food and wine were set before him. It was only after a stay of several days that he took his leave. "Do not speak of us to the people outside," they said. But when he had regained his boat and was retracing his original route, he marked it at point after point; and on reaching the prefecture he sought audience of the prefect and told him all of these things. The prefect immediately dispatched officers to go back with the fisherman. He hunted for the marks he had made, but grew confused and never found his way again. The learned and virtuous hermit Liu Tzu-chi heard the story and went off elated to find the place. But he had no success, and died at length of a sickness. Since that time there have been no further "seekers of the ford." To the right is the "Peach Blossom Spring." 1542, spring, third month, sixth day. Written by Cheng-ming at the age of 73. --the translation of the writing is tran. by Cyril Birch, Anthology of Chinese Literature (1965, pp. 167-68). Seal of Wen Cheng-ming following the long inscription: Cheng-ming. Additional seals: One unidentified seal at lower right corner: Lang-huan hsien-kuan ts'ang-shan, One almost illegible seal at lower left corner: Ch'iu Ying. (This was identified by Mr. James Robinson; therefore, this painting was attributed to Ch'iu Ying.)
In this fan painting mounted as an album leaf, a fishing boat is moored at shore. Water stretches to the right, and above it calligraphic text recounting the story of Peach Blossom Spring. To the left of the boat, are green riverbanks, blossoming peach trees, and a man in a small cave.
This fan is a rare collaboration between two famous artists from Suzhou who belonged to different social strata. The calligraphy is the work of the great literati (non-professional artist) master Wen Zhengming, while the painting is by the professional painter Qiu Ying. Literati artists such as Wen were part of an educated elite that pursued painting and calligraphy as gentlemanly pastimes rather than for financial gain. By contrast, painters who earned their living selling their work usually came from humble families and seldom had a formal education.
The scene is from The Account of the Peach Blossom Spring, inscribed on the scroll by Wen. This famous prose work written by Tao Yuanming (372–427), the great poet of the Eastern Jin dynasty (317–420), tells the story of an ordinary man who stumbles upon a utopian world that he cannot find again after leaving it. The tale was reinterpreted by many Chinese poets and thinkers and has western counterparts in stories from Arcadia to Brigadoon.
Inscription of artist at upper right corner: San-sung. Seal of artist at upper right corner: Chu-lai shan-jen. Additional seals and inscriptions: Lable: Authentic work of Ming Chiang Sung, "Evening Snow, Returning Fisherman"; remounted 1972. (Ming Chiang Sung mu-hsüeh kuei-yü t'u chen-chi, i chiu ch'i erh nien chung-chuang)
Swift, spontaneous brushwork is used to capture a winter landscape. Two fishermen, wearing wide-brimmed straw hats and thatched grass rain capes, work their way through the heavy snow as they cross a bridge, carrying nets on their shoulders.
The impressive scale of this hanging scroll, the spare composition, and bold use of brush and ink are characteristic of this professional Zhe school artist Jiang Song's style.
Inscription of artist: Spring of 1566. After Shen Chou's brush. Ch'ien Ku (Ping-yin ch'un-jih fang Shih-t'ien-wêng pi. Ch'ien Ku) Seal of artist: Shu-pao. Additional inscriptions and seals: Colophon by Chang Fêng-i (tsu, Po-ch'i; from Suchou, friend of Wen Cheng-ming): Ch'i-nan (Shen Chou) depicted the mountain bird, Shu-pao (Ch'ien Ku) imitated that of Ch'i-nan. Whether or not it matches Yu-meng's (skill of mimesis), it can still be treasured like an old hair pin. Chang Fêng-i. Colophon and seal of Wen Chia (1501-83, tzu, Hsiu-ch'eng, hao, Wen-shui; second son of Wen Cheng-ming): I have seen birds around lake area, they have white body and black back. They are very similar to magpies but are little bit small in size with yellow neck, long tail and tall feet. They have leisure manner and are lovable. I did not know its name, and asked he hunters. They said it is I-yu. I did not have time to check whether it is in the Book of Feather. (Wêng ching)? On the 18th day of 12th month of this year, Yün-hui accompanied me staying at the graves of my ancestors. Accidentally we saw the mountain birds gathering on the branches of pine. They were not frightened to fly away when seeing people. They had snowwhite top (head), black cheeks. Their beak and feet were dark red. Their tails were in the shape of oval and the color in blue, and the tail spread out and hanged down at the end. I-yu have the refined looking one and the ordinary one. Those which live near water are not as good as those Yün-hui asked me to depict it, so I did and inscribed this. "In the autumn of the year of 1566, I accidentally saw the painting of Mountain Bird with inscription by Shih-t'ien copied by Shu-pao, by the raining window, I leisurely copied the inscription, so that we do not forget Shih-t'ien's idea. Wen Chia." Seal: Hsiu-ch'eng.
This is a portrait of a courtesan and her two attendants. The courtesan wears a red cloak with a peacock flying over peonies and a pale green color kimono with “shippô” (seven treasures) pattern. Her green obi, tied in the front, has design of red and blue clouds with gold plants. She is turning away from a viewer to show the gorgeous cloak. Her hair is sculpted in a butterfly shape on the top and has wings to the side. Tortoise-shell combs and multiple hairpins adorn the hair. Her two attendants flank the courtesan; they wear matching, dark green kimono with chrysanthemum flower design and red underkimono. Their kimono have especially long sleeves (furisode), whose openings are tied with ribbons. Their obi are in brocade and tied on their backs. Their hair is sculpted in round shape on their tops and has side wings like the courtesan. They wear silver hair accessories of cherry blossoms and tassels, long hairpins and red silk ribbons. The attendant on the left holds a battledore pad and the right attendant holds a ball. All the women wear black platform sandals. There is a cherry tree in full blossom on the right, from which some petals fall on the women and the ground. There are the artist’s signature and seal on the lower right corner. It has mounting of beige silk and two strips of floral pattern brocade on the top and bottom of the painting.
Traditionally the famous beauties of the Yoshiwara entertainment quarter in Edo would parade under the cherry blossoms every spring in the newest fashions. Here we see an unknown courtesan (but probably one of the top courtesans at the time) accompanied by two young attendants in matching costumes. The battledore pad and ball were originally used in courtly games (the ball is for kicking), but here they are perhaps attributes to the elegance that the courtesan evokes.
Inscription of artist: Playfully painted by Ch'en Tsun at the Treasure Ink Studio on the 15th day of the 12th month, 1612. (Wan-li jen-tzu la-yüeh wang-jih hsi-tso yü Pao-mo chai Ju-hsün-fu Ch'en Tsun) Seals of artist: Ch'en Tsun ssu-yin, Ch'en Ju-hsün shih.
In this painting a well-fed cat nestles contentedly among the grass and flowers, relaxing on the bank of a stream.
In this charming example of bird and flower painting, the animated cat, comfortably ensconced, gazes directly out at the viewer.
Rejecting detailed realism, Chen Zun freely paints the cat in light, lively brushstrokes, making effective use of the white space of the paper. Rocks, flowers, and grasses are skillfully depicted in different tonalities of monochrome ink.
Among the rolling green mountains, figures in this scroll go about their lives, leading cattle to drink along the riverside and dangling fishing lines over the edge of small boats in hopes of catching something for dinner. Highlights of red pigment add brilliance to a grove of trees near the middle of the scroll. The detail work in the trees is spectacular, with twisted and knotted trunks that seem to refuse to stand upright, but bend against gravity, in some cases revealing networks of tangled roots.
The luminous greens and blues in this handscroll are derived from mineral and azurite pigments, adding to the overall shine and radiance of the work. Blue-and-green landscape technique was typically orchestrated by court painters, and this scroll includes a red oval-shaped seal indicating that it was a part of the collection of Qing Dynasty Emperor Qianlong (r. 1736-1795).
The Buddha, sheltered by the Naga king Mucalinda: a scene from the life of historical Buddha. When the Buddha-to-be sat down under a Bo tree in Bodh Gaya to meditate for a period of 49 days, a great storm arose, but his concentration was unbroken. To keep him safe from the flood and the driving rain, the Naga (serpent) king Mucalinda coiled his body to life him above the waters, and spread his cobra hood to provide shelter. Images of Buddha sheltered by Mucalinda are common in peninsular Southeast Asia, where snakes were tradiionally revered as fertility symbols.
Bold colors depict Krishna, one of human manifestations of the Hindu god Vishnu, is seated with a woman, Radha, above him. He touches her leg, and the tips of her hands and feet glow red. She sits erect and holds a large flower, looking straight off the left edge of the picture. The two are framed in an architectural structure.
Krishna, the cowherd of Vrindavan, was one of human manifestations of the Hindu god Vishnu. Precocious and naughty as a child, he grew to overcome many obstacles and conquer ferocious demons to save himself and his tribe. The love affair between Krishna and his favorite gopi (cowgirl), Radha, is a common theme in north Indian painting. Their passionate relationship is a metaphor for the unquenchable love of the soul for the supreme god. As seen here, it is not always Radha who is in a subservient position in this love affair: often Radha is proud and aloof, and it is Krishna who is the ardent wooer.
The bold design, intense color, and jewel-encrusted effect (accomplished by the use of beetle thorax casings) are all characteristic of hill painting of the early eighteenth century—as is the stirring combination of fiery passion and dignified reserve.
A vertical painting with signature on the right side. Colors primarily include gray and faded browns/oranges. Paper is faded yellow color.
A landscape of mountains and a river with three trees in the foreground. Under the far left tree is a person dressed in blue and white robes (the scholar). The scholar is standing on a small log that forms a bridge across the river.