This painting shows a man seated on a bench, facing the viewer. He leans forward slightly and his right hand reaches across his body to point toward a group of coins on the ground. He is dressed in tattered clothing and his feet are bare. The bench where he is seated is inscribed with the letters: P. Q. P. C. /T. T. This is an outdoor scene with open sky in the background and some vegetation on a ledge above him, but there are no details to indicate the exact location. Another man is shown in the background at the right, walking hunched over and using a staff. There is a strong contrast between dark and light in this painting. The figure of the walking man and the dark shapes of buildings are outlined against the light backdrop of the sky. A strong warm light, from the left side of the painting, highlights the knees, hand and upper body of the seated man.
This painting is a portrait of the Greek philosopher, Crates of Thebes. The writings of biographer, Diogenes Laertius, relate that Crates gave up his wealth to devote himself to the Cynic philosophy. The Cynics embraced poverty and hardship and spoke against social conventions which they believed were an impediment to living in accord with nature. Crates was nicknamed, "Door Opener" from his habit of entering houses to offer advice. A saying attributed to him was, " That a man ought to study philosophy, up to the point of looking on generals and donkey drivers in the same light."
Here, Fetti has painted the philosopher, dressed in ragged clothing, as if he is speaking directly to the viewer. Crates is pointing to some coins on the ground beside him, perhaps a reference to his disgarded wealth or his life of poverty. The meaning of the initials carved on his bench is not known.
Vertically long image. Ink on silk. Multiple figures gathered near a table. Vegetation in the lower left.
The artist Gai Qi was from a family of Muslim origin that lived in southeastern China, near the port city of Shanghai. A professional painter living entirely on his art, he is best known for delicately rendered images of beautiful women. This garden scene of two young maids serving their mistress a platter of lichee fruit refers to the legendary incident in which when lichees were presented to Yang Guifei (719-756), the favorite consort of the Minghuang Emperor (r. 712–756) during the Tang dynasty. Lichees grow only in southern China, and the fruit was rushed north on horseback each summer to please the extravagant taste of Yang Guifei and her court ladies. One year when celebrating Yang’s birthday, the Emperor named his musical composition The Fragrance of Lichee. After Yang was killed in a riot, the annual arrival of the fruit reminded the emperor of his lost love and caused him great sorrow. This bittersweet motif is often found in Chinese literature and painting.
Paper mounted on aqua silk. There are three figures present in the image. The focal point is a cart full of fruit. There is calligraphy on the upper left hand side of the image, complete with two red seals. There is a Christies sticker on the bottom left corner of the mounting.
These two album leaves are from a series by Huang Shen, known as one of the Eight Eccentric Painters of Yangzhou, a group of highly individualistic artists active in this prosperous metropolis in southern China. Here the artist uses his skill in detailed execution to render the accomplishments of two unique individuals.
The delightful painting on the left portrays the eighth-century magician and Daoist master Luo Gonyuan’s encounter with an imperial envoy transporting oranges and other treasures to the capital. Because he was not permitted to partake of the fruit intended for the emperor, the magician merely bent down and smelled the oranges, never touching/laying a hand on them. When the emperor came to eat the oranges, however, he found one section was missing from each, startling evidence of Luo’s powers.
Signed: right screen: Kasho Seals: Zen Shin So Ba Ho Kyu Ko Ike Mumei In Kasho Inscription on the first panel of the right screen: The thousand-foot white cliff is split The red walls of four mountains open The dragon pond shoots and spits in the middle Day and night it produces wind and thunder One can also see the cascading water fall Resembling the gathering of the Milky Way. Composed by Li Po (Chinese, 701-762), "Requesting Ts'ui Shan-jen's Painting of the Waterfall at the Thousand-foot Cliff.
Signed: right screen: Kasho; left screen: Kyuka Sansho sha; Seals: Zen Shin So Ba Ho Kyu Ko Ike Mumei In Kasho Inscription: Roaming the hills and scattered streams with a book of poems. Viewing the moon and searching for flowers while grasping a wine cup. The Six Concerns exhaust my thoughts; I wish you were my companion. When will you return to Lo-yang? Composed by Po Chü-i (772-843) entitled "Remembering Hui-shu."