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Browsing 153 results for facet Geographic with value of Collection of Groke Mickey.
  • Thumbnail for Fan painting -  Boats on a lake beneath a temple - detail of inscription
    Fan painting - Boats on a lake beneath a temple - detail of inscription by Xu Guanhai

    Calligraphy found to right of landscape with indistinct background and mist filled shoreline with temple roof emerging from the trees. The artist is known only from an entry in the dictionary, which says that he was from Shangyu in Zhejiang province and known for calligraphy as well as for painting orchids and naturalistic scenes, which usually meant still life or bird and flower themes. He was a provincial graduate in 1760, so the date of 1806 could fit within his later years. There is a certain antique feeling in this work in that the indistinct background and mist filled shoreline with the temple roof emerging from the trees harks back to the Southern Song and the Ma-Xia School. Even the style of the temple architecture imitates that found in these earlier paintings, as does the "one corner" composition with most of the visual weight placed to one side. This is somewhat surprising, since by the early Qing the more orthodox painters did not think much of these earlier masters.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Fruit and mushrooms
    Fan painting - Fruit and mushrooms by Zhou Xian (1820-1875)

    Fruited branch and mushrooms. Zhou Xian is another artist that is well represented in modern literature. Like so many of the others in the collection, Zhou lived through the difficult years of the Taiping rebellion and ended up in Shanghai, forsaking an official career. The technique used for leaves and fruit, as well as the mushrooms, can be compared with that used by Yao Yuanzhi. These different elements were done quickly, and the successful outcome is due to long practice. Andrews illustrates a very similar technique in a fan painting of wisteria.

  • Thumbnail for Fan with calligraphy
    Fan with calligraphy by Zhang Zao, The Lady Lang Fang

    55 lines of tiny regular script, alternating between lines with 16 characters and lines with 6 characters, altogether 610 characters, followed by a line with dedication and signature in even smaller characters. A standard source mentions a woman artist named Zhang Zao, with the pen name Lanfang, who was the wife of a man named Shen. No dates are given for her, and the two possible dates given above within the repeating 60 year cycle are in keeping with the majority of fans in this collection that date from the nineteenth century. An attribution such as this must remain tentative until additional examples of the person's work can be located. Although a number of women artists achieved some level of fame in the Qing dynasty, most were known only through the name of the man they served or to whom they were married. One can only marvel at the extraordinary levels of skill and concentration to which these hundreds of tiny characters attest. One mistake and one had to begin again. At the same time, they are far removed from qualities like freedom and expressiveness, and suggest other skills such as embroidery and weaving for which many women were famous. To be capable of such work, the woman must have had a long period of training in calligraphy, and was most probably very literate, as suggested by the meaning of her name Zao (accomplished in literature). It would be useful to find out more about her.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Scholar and servant - detail of two central figures
    Fan painting - Scholar and servant - detail of two central figures by Ren Xun (1835-1893)

    n this painting two figures sit on a point of land that opens onto a vast stretch of water. They are embraced by the two trees, one in the left background and one between and behind the figures. Ren Xun is another major figure in nineteenth century Chinese painting. His importance is underlined by being included in the major exhibition A Century in Crisis, and the following comments are drawn from those pages. A Chinese author notes that "…in terms of facial renditions, the upper portions tend to be narrower and the lower portions fuller…and therefore are antique [in spirit]…" This gives some suggestion of a person who was more reflective and sober in spirit than others. Ren Xun was the brother of Ren Xiong and the teacher of Ren Yi, and he has suffered by comparison to these more famous members of the Ren family. Ren Yi was eventually to go to Shanghai, a world of art more prosperous and iconoclastic than Suzhou where Ren Xun chose to stay. He was a well-known figure in that city, and contributed to the world of art in many ways. His career is well-documented. In this painting the two figures sit on a point of land that opens onto a vast stretch of water, suggested by the indications of distant land at top left. They are embraced by the two trees, one in the left foreground and one between and behind the figures. The scene of the scholar in nature awaiting tea prepared by a servant is often encountered in traditional landscapes, and this scene seems to be a quick sketch, a footnote referring back to that tradition.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Orchids, rocks and mushrooms - detail of inscription
    Fan painting - Orchids, rocks and mushrooms - detail of inscription by Shen Rong (act. 1820-1850)

    To the right are two five character quatrains comparing the orchid to the fragrance of a woman. At the end is the dedication and signature. Shen Rong, zi Shixiang, has a minimal presence in the literature. He was known for his flowers, as well as landscape in the manner of the Loudong School, associated with the early Qing master Wang Yuanqi. The single work cited in Sirén is also of an orchid, and Sirén states that he was active around 1830. To the right are two five-character quatrains comparing the orchid to the fragrance of a woman. At the end is the dedication and signature. The literary and pictorial conceit of the wild orchid is a very old one in China, and one that a student could follow in an essay on the topic. The orchid is inobtrusive, not at all showy like many seen in greenhouses today, yet its fragrance pervades the air. This is a metaphor for the proper Confucian gentleman, whose character influences others although he may be retired socially. The long pliant leaves of the plant allow the calligraphic possibilities of the brush to come into play, and the solidity of the rock contrasts with the softness of the plant. The mushroom is always a symbol of longevity, sometimes associated with Daoist practices.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Willows along a bank
    Fan painting - Willows along a bank by Yang Zhao

    A copse of willows grows by the water. To the right is a home with a figure seen through the door; to the left a skiff moves over the water. In the background a range of mountains rise above the mist that hangs over the water. Although the seal, at least, seems fairly clear in indicating the name Yang Zhao, the name does not appear in standard sources. A copse of willows grows by the water. To the right is a home with a figure seen through the door; to the left a skiff moves over the water. In the background a range of mountains rises above the mist that hangs over the water. The composition is very conservative, going back ultimately to such scenes painted by the Song master Zhao Lingrang, although he would not have included the mountains. The device of using the mist to screen the base of the mountains is, in fact, an archaic device developed before painters found a way to move the eye back into space from foreground to distance. The application of color also goes back to early times, especially since the brush line is so little in evidence. Whether this artist specialized in such scenes or was simply making a reference back into the past is impossible to say.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Xiaohong Softly Sings and I Play the Vertical Flute - detail of calligraphy
    Fan painting - Xiaohong Softly Sings and I Play the Vertical Flute - detail of calligraphy by Shen Zhaohan (1856-1941)

    Man and woman in a boat moored before a large rock. Shen Zhaohan, zi Xinhai, lived well into the twentieth centurry. Would that someone would have interviewed him before he died in 1941. A recent work records his activity in the early twentieth century, when he was a member and for a time Director of the Shanghai-based Yuyuan Shuhua Shanhui (The Yu Garden Charitable Association of Calligraphy and Painting), which was founded only in 1909. Laing records two other artist organizations to which he belonged. Such group activities document the social organizations formed by painters in the early twentieth century to improve their status in the community and financial well-being. He would certainly have been conversant with those of the "Nine Friends" that were of his generation. The works recorded in Laing's Index are dated between 1896 and 1935, so the 1884 date would make this one of his earliest works. The thin elongated faces are clear references back to the Shanghai School and painters like Ren Xun, Qian Huian, and Ni Tian. His other recorded works are all figures and flowers. Even though there is clear precedent for the style that Zhaohan uses here, the painting has an attractive composition, with the two figures set to the right framed by the diagonal of the large rock behind them. The technique in the drapery of the figures is well done, and in line with other late nineteenth century artists. The artist has provided the title in his inscription.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Calligraphy - detail of script
    Fan painting - Calligraphy - detail of script by Zhang Zao, The Lady Lang Fang

    55 lines of tiny regular script, alternating between lines with 16 characters and lines with 6 characters, altogether 610 characters, followed by a line with dedication and signature in even smaller characters. A standard source mentions a woman artist named Zhang Zao, with the pen name Lanfang, who was the wife of a man named Shen. No dates are given for her, and the two possible dates given above within the repeating 60 year cycle are in keeping with the majority of fans in this collection that date from the nineteenth century. An attribution such as this must remain tentative until additional examples of the person's work can be located. Although a number of women artists achieved some level of fame in the Qing dynasty, most were known only through the name of the man they served or to whom they were married. One can only marvel at the extraordinary levels of skill and concentration to which these hundreds of tiny characters attest. One mistake and one had to begin again. At the same time, they are far removed from qualities like freedom and expressiveness, and suggest other skills such as embroidery and weaving for which many women were famous. To be capable of such work, the woman must have had a long period of training in calligraphy, and was most probably very literate, as suggested by the meaning of her name Zao (accomplished in literature). It would be useful to find out more about her.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Man reading resting on a rock
    Fan painting - Man reading resting on a rock by Ni Tian (1853-1919)

    A single figure, seated but leaning to the left and with elbows resting on a large rock, reads a book. The large rock takes up the entire center space. Ni Tian is a well-known artist and his work is seen frequently in collections and at auctions. He was one of the "Nine Friends" of Suzhou, and would have known and interacted with all of the famous painters in the south in his day. He began his studies with Wang Su (1794-1797), although there are hints at friction between the two. Some aspects of Ni Tian's character helped label him as "greasy and flippant," and his long-standing relationship with the madam of a brothel may have helped this censure. Although listed among the Suzhou artists, he spent most of his later years, from about 1890 on, in Shanghai, where he studied the style of Ren Yi, student of Ren Xun. The inscripton contains the dedication, date and signature. A single figure, seated but leaning to the left and with elbows resting on a large rock, reads a book. The large rock takes up the entire center of the composition, and the inscription at far left is balanced by the spreading branches of a tree, of which only the lower branches are visible, at right. The lower trunk of a second tree is visible at the right edge of the fan. The energetic brush and careful control of ink value are typical of Ni Tian, who was a very skilled artist technically. He lived into the twentieth century, and continued the traditions of the Shanghai school, especially the style of Ren Yi, although without much significant contribution of his own.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Landscape - detail of central figure
    Fan painting - Landscape - detail of central figure by Gu Yun (1835-1896)

    A round fan with a single large pine to the right, partly obscuring a complex buildings. A single figure is placed before a long table seen through the open window of tall structure at left center. A single peak is in the left distance. Gu Yun is one of the best-documented artists in the collection, and information on his career can be found in several publications. There are five fans in this collection signed by the artist, and this provides an interesting opportunity to compare the brush manner and calligraphy of a single individual over time. While there are many precedents in the classical past for these standard elements of trees, houses, and distant mountains, the somewhat aggressive pine tree that dominates the paintings suggests some elements of the Shanghai school. The brushwork is quiet, however, and reminds one of Gu's conservative beginnings.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - women in a garden - detail of seal on left side
    Fan painting - women in a garden - detail of seal on left side by Quan

    Two women, one playing a qin, the other attentive, in a garden with rocks and bamboo. The painter is not identified, and is not an artist of outstanding ability. As always, the date could be an earlier number in the 60 year cycle, but 1869 seems to fit stylistically. The main subjects, the women, are painted without any knowledge of traditional techniques for depicting drapery, and the faces are non-descript. The rock formations on which the two women sit have a liquid motion that would work well in a landscape, but not so in a garden. They relate awkwardly to the plane on which the women sit. The bamboo is better handled, but lacks energy and character. The inscription begins with a seven-character quatrain, followed by the date, dedication, and signature.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Calligraphy
    Fan painting - Calligraphy by Xu Sangeng (1826-1890)

    Excerpts from the Han dynasty stele from Jizhou dealing with Zhang Yuan. Twelve double lines followed by title, date, dedication and signature. Not much information is recorded on Xu Sangeng, and the lack of any mention of an official career means that he must have functioned as a professional artist. Nevertheless, his reputation as a seal carver and his skill in calligraphy would have earned him entry into the higher levels of society. Despite the lacunae on events in his personal life, he was a very well respected artist, especially in the area of seal carving. His reputation extended to Japan, and Japanese artists visited him and sought to study under him. His study of rubbings of monuments from the Han and Six Dynasties periods allowed him to explore the creative moments of early calligraphy, before the styles of Wang Xizhi dominated the calligraphic tradition. He was also aware of other Qing artists, and toward the middle of his career was influenced by Deng Shiru (1743-1805). This fan is a good example of his style. Although the model that he mentions in his title has not been located, the writing exemplifies his style. He plays with endings, pushing and lifting the brush to modulate the line, extending and compacting the structure of characters to find new arrangements of the parts. This is one of the better pieces of calligraphy in the collection.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Calligraphy on round fan
    Fan painting - Calligraphy on round fan by Unknown

    Seven lines of running script on a round fan, followed by a single line with the dedication and signature, which is unclear. This is an attractive example of the running script, by a writer who confidently and quickly wrote out this piece. There are some curious inconsistencies in the scale of characters, some being very small and other quite large. The distinctive cipher that is the signature should be able to be identified at some later date.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Calligraphy
    Fan painting - Calligraphy by Yang [?]

    Sixteen lines of running script, alternating between full lines of six to seven characters and shorter lines of three characters. At the end are two additional lines in the same script with the date and dedication. At the end is a single line with the signature in four characters. The writer gives a pen name, Qiu ?, and then his family name Yang. The given name (the last character) is unclear. As usual, the date could be sixty years earlier or later, depending on the life span of the artist.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Calligraphy
    Fan painting - Calligraphy by Wang Wanfang (act. late nineteenth century)

    Seventeen uneven lines, alternating between eight and three characters per line. In addition, the last two lines contain the dedication and signature. Wang Wanfang achieved the jinshi or metropolitan degree in 1889. This was the highest honor that an aspiring young Chinese scholar could hope for, and placed him in the elite company of those who held the highest government positions. The characters are written in a bold regular script with the brush likely held at an angle to the paper, giving the strokes a crisp angularity suggesting the European calligraphic pen. Some elements of the characters seem unbalanced, but overall there is a steady rhythm in the progress of the brush. The poem refers to the "nine tripods" and "five jade disks," along with other artifacts that might grace the home of a well to do man. Perhaps all this is in praise of the person to whom the fan is dedicated.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Calligraphy with bamboo and cicadas.
    Fan painting - Calligraphy with bamboo and cicadas. by Zhang Pan (1812-after 1887)

    Bamboo and cicadas with inscription. Zhang Pan was from Dingxing in Hebei province, and held an official post in Wuding in Shandong province. He was known as a calligrapher, especially in the seal and clerical script, as well as a painter of the bird and flower category, illustrated by the present example. He worked in the manner of Yao Yuanzhi,whose work is in this collection, and the earlier Qing artist Bian Shoumin, who was famous for his paintings of geese. Zhang may well have been a student of Yao Yuanzhi, since their lives overlapped by several decades. This painting of two cicadas on a willow tree, one on the trunk and one on the slender branch is of an unusual subject, but painted with restraint and great skill. A subject such as this is ideal for the fan format, since the twisting trunk and wind-blown branches can be arranged to fit the available space. There is a resonance between the cicada, an insect associated with rejuvination and rebirth through its habit of emerging from the ground after seven years of burial, and the aged twisting trunk juxtaposed with the fresh new leaves.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Xiaohong Softly Sings and I Play the Vertical Flute
    Fan painting - Xiaohong Softly Sings and I Play the Vertical Flute by Shen Zhaohan (1856-1941)

    Man and woman in a boat moored before a large rock. Shen Zhaohan, zi Xinhai, lived well into the twentieth century. Would that someone would have interviewed him before he died in 1941. A recent work records his activity in the early twentieth century, when he was a member and for a time Director of the Shanghai-based Yuyuan Shuhua Shanhui (The Yu Garden Charitable Association of Calligraphy and Painting), which was founded only in 1909. Laing records two other artist organizations to which he belonged. Such group activities document the social organizations formed by painters in the early twentieth century to improve their status in the community and financial well-being. He would certainly have been conversant with those of the "Nine Friends" that were of his generation. The works recorded in Laing's Index are dated between 1896 and 1935, so the 1884 date would make this one of his earliest works. The thin elongated faces are clear references back to the Shanghai School and painters like Ren Xun, Qian Huian, and Ni Tian. His other recorded works are all figures and flowers. Even though there is clear precedent for the style that Zhaohan uses here, the painting has an attractive composition, with the two figures set to the right framed by the diagonal of the large rock behind them. The technique in the drapery of the figures is well done, and in line with other late nineteenth century artists. The artist has provided the title in his inscription.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Calligraphy
    Fan painting - Calligraphy by Wu Xizai (1799-1870)

    Seventeen uneven lines of a regular script, alternating between lines of about nine characters with those of about four or five characters, the last with title, stylistic acknowledgement, and signature. A chapter of the Huangting neijing after Meishan dongpo zhushi Su Shi Zizhan. This writing is, as Xizai says, very much in the style of the famous Song dynasty cultural hero, Su Shi or Su Dongpo (1036-1101). Su's life story and accomplishments in literature, politics, painting and calligraphy are recorded in any book on China. The calligraphy here is recognizably in his style, and this adds an interesting footnote to the sources for Xizai's style, showing that he had a broad knowledge of past styles. His career and art would make an interesting study for a student.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Calligraphy
    Fan painting - Calligraphy by Wu Tingkang (1799-1888)

    On the left are sixteen large characters in clercial script, two characters per line. After this, moving to the left, are two lines with date and signature. The main subjects of the fan are, first, an inscription copied from a bronze, prominent at the top. Below which are four characters, probably from a Shang Dynasty bronze. Second, the next seven lines to the left copy another bronze inscription. Wu Tingyun is recorded as proficient in seal and clerical scripts, as well as in prunus and orchid painting and seal carving. He was from Tongcheng in Anhui province, an area famous for its well to do merchants. This fan is evidence for his active intellect even at an advanced age. His interest in epigraphy is shown in the two catalogs he edited, one of old tiles, often with inscribed characters, and the other of seals. The entry in Kuo and Sturman gives specific information about his relation to the Great Qing calligrapher Deng Shiru, and to the way Tingyun manipulated the brush for effect. The fan provides a cornucopia of script types: the clerical and regular scripts, as well as two versions of the very ancient scripts from bronze vessels, which would fall in the category of Jinshi, or Bronze and Stone, script. Such bronzes of the Shang and Zhou dynasties were objects of both reverence and study in the minds of Qing calligraphers. They provided a concrete link to the heroic age, which Confucius had lionized as the golden age of sage rulers. While archaeological finds in the early twentieth century showed a different picture, with evidence for slavery and ritual human sacrifice, but this was still in the future in Tingkang's time. The large clerical script characters suggest such ethical issues, as they begin with the contrasting phrases, "With full granaries, [yet] treating the masses with cruelty." The characters are well composed and drawn with a firm hand that gives no hint of weakness in the mind or body of an eighty year old. Nevertheless, they lack the inventiveness and creativity which one finds in earlier writers such as Deng Shiru or Yi Bingshou. This is an artist whose work might be the subject of an interesting study if more examples can be found.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Monkey in a landscape, with insects -detail
    Fan painting - Monkey in a landscape, with insects -detail by Gu Yun (1835-1896)

    A pair of monkeys on the rock silhouetted against the distant mountains. Detail shows monkey in the tree. Even though Gu Yun was a prolific artist, there is no clear explanation as to why there are so many of his works in this collection. This is an unusual subject, and the explanation probably lies in the colophon, not yet translated. Gu Yun's classical training is evident in the foreground rocks and trees. The composition works well, with the pair of monkeys on the rock silhouetted against the distant mountains.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Scholar in a boat looking up a cliff: the Ode on the Red Cliff
    Fan painting - Scholar in a boat looking up a cliff: the Ode on the Red Cliff by Zhu Liangcai (act. early 20th century)

    Detail. Ellen Laing lists this name in her index to twentieth century painters, and refers to one other figure painting, Two Ladies in a Garden, dated 1926. Liangcai belonged to the Changhong Painting society, and more details on his life may be available. One can compare this to the same subject in another painting in the collection, attributed to the famous twentieth–century artist Jiang Daqian. Although the elements in the scene are exactly the same, Daqian creates a much more dynamic composition and moves the viewer into closer proximity to the figures in the boat. There is also much more energy in the brushwork. The stiffness in this example may be due to the fact that the artist is painting after a model, in this case, as the inscription says, the Ming artist Tang Yin (Liuju zhushi). The two works were done within a few years of each other, and both show early twentieth–century artists continuing traditional themes, but in very different ways.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting: Scholar in a boat looking up at a cliff: The Ode on the Red Cliff
    Fan painting: Scholar in a boat looking up at a cliff: The Ode on the Red Cliff by Zhu Liangcai (act. early 20th century)

    Ellen Laing lists this name in her index to twentieth century painters, and refers to one other figure painting, Two Ladies in a Garden, dated 1926. Liangcai belonged to the Changhong Painting society, and more details on his life may be available. One can compare this to the same subject in another fan in the collection, attributed to the famous twentieth–century artist Jiang Daqian. Although the elements in the scene are exactly the same, Daqian creates a much more dynamic composition and moves the viewer into closer proximity to the figures in the boat. There is also much more energy in the brushwork. The stiffness in this example may be due to the fact that the artist is painting after a model, in this case, as the inscription says, the Ming artist Tang Yin (Liuju zhushi). The two works were done within a few years of each other, and both show early twentieth–century artists continuing traditional themes, but in very different ways.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Lioness and Cub - detail of inscription
    Fan painting - Lioness and Cub - detail of inscription by Liu Deliu (1806-1875)

    A lioness walking from right to left, takes uo most of the space in the fan. Her cub, facing the opposite direction, looks up at her as the mother's left forepaw rests on his back. Deliu was from Wujiang in Jiangsu province and was known as a specialist in painting plants and animals. He was a student of Xia Zhiding (1782-1827), a painter of similar subjects, but Xia was not well-known enough to have been mentioned in the modern literature. Deliu is said to have been the teacher of Lu Hui (another of the "Nine Friends"), but in this case the student far exceeded the teacher in both technical skill and production. At any rate, Deliu was already 45 when Lu Hui was born, and Lu Hui was just 24 when Deliu died, so the relation could not have been long-lived. Deliu was a "…highly refined individual-whose Red Pear Blossom Studio was known for its bright and sparkling interior, with a fine library and brushes and inkstones of the best quality." Although Brown praises Deliu's work, the relationship between Lu Hui and Deliu may have been more of patronage than teacher-student. He is one of the many artists in the collection that merit further study. A rather droll and amusing lioness, walking from right to left, takes up most of the space in the fan. Her cub, facing the opposite direction, looks up at her as the mother's left forepaw rests protectively on his back. The faces of the lions look more like dogs than lions, and other curious aspects of the anatomy-the long tails with pom-poms at the end and the elongated feet-make one wonder if Deliu had ever seen an actual lion. The statement in the inscription says that he was working in the style of Xinlo Shanren, or Hua Yan (1682-1765), a famous artist of the early Qing who specialized in figures and animals. The somewhat awkward rendering of the animal is mirrored in a painting of a fish in the collection of the Denver Museum of Art. One is tempted to see in the fish the same bemused expression worn by the lioness. The fish seems to float over, not in, the water, as does his companion, a frog.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Pipa Song
    Fan painting - Pipa Song by Wang Su (1794-1877)

    Woman with pipa in a boat. Wang Su was well known in his day, and his work has appeared in recent exhibitions. He lived through the tumultuous mid-century era when the Opium War and Taiping rebellion wrecked havoc across the land. His nephew, a student of his, died in the rebellion. Brown says that Wang Su was "…not known for his native talent, either in painting or in calligraphy, yet he was able to overcome his deficiencies through industry and diligence." Conscious of the expectation that successful painters have literary skills, he developed a minor reputation in poetry and attached long inscriptions on some of his paintings. Wang Su was known for his figure paintings, often in the style of Gai Qi and Fei Danxiu, two well-known figure painters of the middle Qing. As in the painting in the Henricksen collection, this one has a melancholy air about it, and probably refers to the famous Tang dynasty poem, The Pipa Song, written by Bai Zhuyi in 816. The poem recounts an event in which Bai Zhuyi travelled to Xunyang and visited with a friend on his boat. From across the waters came the sound of the pipa, the Chinese lute, played with surpassing skill. Both men knew that only a musician trained in the capital could play so well. It turned out the player was a courtesan, grown old and now unwanted. She joined the men on the boat and played for them. The event was a favorite subject for artists, and evoked the passing of time and the fading of earthly pleasures. The subject is properly identified as an illustration to the poem Pipa Song.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - The First Red Cliff Prose Poem - detail of inscription
    Fan painting - The First Red Cliff Prose Poem - detail of inscription by Sun Zhang

    Two bearded scholars in a boat on a moonlight night. Despite the accomplished technique of this work and presence of a pen name and signature (the character "zhang" is not clear), the artist has not been identified. The style of the painting is very close to that of Qian Hui'an (1833-1911), but the calligraphy in the inscription is different from that artist. Qian's followers were legion, and any number of artists could have produced this charming fan. The face of the bearded scholar at center is particularly close to Huian's work. One can compare this work to those by Shen Zhaohan, another follower of Hui'an. The artist states that he is doing the work in Hucheng, or Shanghai, where Qian Hui'an spent most of his career. The subject of the painting is the "Ode on the Red Cliff" by Su Shi, a topic that appears several times in this collection. It takes as a theme the evanescence of human effort over the broad span of history, and this concept must have resonated with many in these confusing times.