One of the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou, a group of highly individualistic artists active in the prosperous metropolis of Yangzhou, Jin Nong began his artistic career as a calligrapher, but at the age of sixty his painting talent finally blossomed. He mastered many subjects, including bamboo, vegetables, plum blossoms, horses, self-portraits and late in life, Buddhist images. These album leaves are elegant counterpoints to the angular standard script of the artist and are characteristic of his distinctly individualized calligraphic style.
The inscription on the album leaf depicting lotus blossoms reads:
In the evening, the rustic fragrance [of the lotus blossom] invites the guests to linger,
While the egrets at the Thirty-six Ponds and the whole world [enjoy] a cool [breeze].
The inscription on the album leaf depicting day lily reads:
Near [mother’s] northern hall, [the day lily] blossoms like a smiling face.
[I] wish [that she] would live a hundred years, [and] happiness will last throughout [her] life.
She would never have to recount [her] worries and troubles to others.
The day lily most certainly causes [mothers] to disregard their sorrow.
Vertical hanging scroll of calligraphic text consisting of five Chinese characters in black ink. One of a pair.
These two calligraphic works are done by Chang Ku-nien’s wife, Chen Shu-chen, who was an accomplished painter and calligrapher herself. Written in semi-cursive script, it demonstrates the artist’s affinity for bold and well-defined lines. The couplet of poetry, reads from right to left, praises the importance of one of China’s classics: There are many old books which have many special characters; yet only great I Ching (Book of Changes) shows us a path through past and future.