Inscription of the artist: Towering cilff, turbulent falls ruse from the flat ground; Lofty tower, hidden retreat leaning on the open heavens. Painted by Hsieh Shih-ch'en. Seal of the artist: Wu-men Hsieh Shih-ch'en t'u-shu chi; Additional Inscriptions and Seals: Unidentified: (seal) Chung-chou shih-chia, (label) Ming...(illegible).
This is a very dense landscape painting. There are waterfalls, clouds, trees and cliffs present in the painting. The colors consist of muted greens and browns. Towards the lower half of the painting, there is a view of an interior with four figures present, three of which are sitting at a low table. There is a staircase on the lower right, with a man standing on it, looking upwards. There is also a house on a cliff towards the upper right of the painting. There is calligraphy in the upper right hand corner, with a red seal. There is another red seal, although a bit faded, in the lower left corner of the image.
A close look at this work reveals two distinct approaches to/styles/modes of painting: one,a realistic depiction of figures and architectural details and the other a freer rendering of rocks and trees. In addition the composition has multiple focal points, each illustrating a distinct/different summer activity. These self-contained and independent narratives seem to convey a lack of concern with unifying/reinforce a sense of disunity among the many elements of the painting. Nonetheless, the skill the artist displays in depicting detail results in an appealingly complex, if perhaps unbalanced, work.
The [combination/use of disparate painting styles in this work may be] due to the fact that Xie Shichen was a Suzhou artist whose painting emulated characteristics of both the professional Zhe School and literati (non-professional artist) Wu School, between which existed a simmering/an incipient artistic rivalry in the early sixteenth century. The Zhe school painters were traditionally associated with the government bureacracy, and often obtained commissions to decorate its buildings [style characterized by]. Wu school painters, who were free from political obligations and constraints, were adept at calligraphy and poetry. Though the styles of these two rival schools became polarized and were rarely combined during the second half of the century, before this they coexisted, as exemplified in this work.
Circular tsuba, made of iron. Inside an exterior circle, eight smaller circles are placed with the same spacing. The eight circles are connected to the exterior circle as well as to the three center holes where kôgai, blade, and kozuka are placed. Each of the eight circles have a different family crests. The openwork technique seen here is called "marubori" (round carving). The surface is slightly textured by minute stippling.
Family crests were important markers of the samurai class, in which military and political connections and blood and marriage relationships heavily weighed and determined one’s social status. This tsuba with eight different family crests alludes that the owner has some kind of relationship to eight different households or lineages; either of his own household (One household used more than one crest, although usually there was one dominant than other crests), his relatives or his allies.
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.
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.
plate 29 from Woodland Portraits, signed recto, signed and titled mount verso
31.75 cm x 24.13 cm (12 1/2 in. x 9 1/2 in.)
A yellow flower, still not yet in bloom. The flower and its stem, entering the image from the bottom right, are the only plants in focus. The background is made up of out of focus green and brown plants and leaves.