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Fan painting - Scene from the Red Cliff

by Zhang Daqian (1899-1983)

Abstract

A scene of excursion by boat to the Red Cliff, illustrating the two odes on the Red Cliff. The cliff overrarches the boat and passengers, as in an innovative use of restrictions of the fan format. Zhang Daqian became one of the best-known Chinese artists of the twentieth century, and was an international figure. He lived and worked in Shanghai before 1949, and then in California, Brazil and Taiwan. He was a person of great talent who understood the entire tradition of Chinese painting, and is perhaps responsible for creating a part of that tradition through his imitations and fakes. There is an immense body of literature on his life and work, and finding how this fan fits into his development should be an interesting study. The identification of this fan rests on both the name Daqian as well as the fact that he identifies himself as "a man of Shu (Shuren)" or Sichuan. If this is indeed by Zhang Daqian, and the assessment of the entire collection as being primarily nineteenth century is correct, this would need be a very early painting by this master, done perhaps around 1920. The final word on the authenticity of the work must wait for a study of other documented early paintings, and how the style, signature and seal of this one fits in with those others (also see fan #30, dated 1930). The scene of the excursion by boat to the Red Cliff, illustrating the two odes on the Red Cliff by Su Shi or Su Dongpo, has been painted by artists over the centuries, and is one of the most popular themes in the repertoire of literati artists. The composition, with the cliff overarching the boat and passengers, is an innovative use of the restrictions of the fan format. The cliffs are painted with energy and skill, and they are continued by the pine trees that reach down from the very top of the fan. The rushes at the left counter and control the strong leftward movement of the cliffs and pines, and act as to move the boat gently into the middle ground. The painting and composition continue the compositional freshness found in the Shanghai school with a brush energy found in many early twentieth century painters.

Note

Materials may be used for educational, non-commercial purposes only. Acknowledgement to be given to the ASIANetwork-Luce Asian Art in the Undergraduate Curriculum Project and to the college from whose collection the work comes. The individual college retains copyright to the work.

Administrative Notes

Materials may be used for educational, non-commercial purposes only. Acknowledgement to be given to the ASIANetwork-Luce Asian Art in the Undergraduate Curriculum Project and to the college from whose collection the work comes. The individual college retains copyright to the work.

Copyright
Copyright restrictions apply.
Publisher
Washington and Lee University
PID
coccc:25046