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Browsing 153 results for facet Geographic with value of Collection of Groke Mickey.
  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Calligraphy
    Fan painting - Calligraphy by Langqing [?]

    Fourteen uneven lines of running script, alternating between lines of seven or eight characters and those of five characters. The last two lines contain the date and dedication. After this is the four character signature. The writer remains unidentified, and the reading of the signature is very tentative. The calligraphy is very well done, using a very controlled running script in which only a few characters are linked.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Calligraphy - detail of signature and seal.
    Fan painting - Calligraphy - detail of signature and seal. by Zhang Daqian (1899-1983)

    Fourteen uneven lines alternating between lines of five and lines of two characters, written in a regular-running script. The last line in slightly smaller characters contains the date and signature. From the signature, this is another work by the famous twentieth century artist Zhang Daqian. The signature here is very close to that on the other fan in the collection, and that one has the notation "man of Shu" or Sichuan, the province from which Daqian came. If this fan were to be by Daqian, it would be the latest dated work in the collection, by far. There were other artists with the pen name Daqian, but none of them were from Sichuan. Ultimately, it should be possible to compare this with other works by the artist done near that date to determine its authenticity. The calligraphic style immediately calls to mind the characters of the Song artist Huang Tingjian, who has always been an icon of the expressive possibilities of the brush. The long wavering terminations of strokes that extend beyond the normal bounds of the calligraphy were his trademark. If the date is correct, this would be the work of a younger Daqian, and one could critique the piece by noting that the expressive possibilities of Huang Tingjian's calligraphy are a bit overused here. This artist creates the long terminations whereever possible; Tingjian did it rarely, only for effect. The last line, "To wash one's ears it is not necessary to use the water from a Bodhisattva's spring" is interesting. The meaning, I would guess, is that ordinary water is as good for washing as that blessed by a deity.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - The Lute Song - detail of central male figures
    Fan painting - The Lute Song - detail of central male figures by Shen Yuebin (act.1820-1850)

    A single woman in her boat and two men in theirs, both placed along the banks of the river. The identification of the artist is tentative at best, and rests on the interpretation of the character Yi. Yilou is the pen name of Shen Yuebin, who exists only as a single entry in the dictionary of artist's names. The entry states he was known for his regular script, but does not mention painting. Nevertheless, the careful organization of the composition and the meticulous brushwork in an almost miniature scene implies someone who could work with a similar approach in calligraphy. All elements in this scene refer to the story of the Lute Song: the single woman in her boat and the two men in theirs, both placed along the banks of the river. By laying out the banks of the river as overlapping spits of land separated by wide expanses of water, the artist introduces an aura of emptiness and melancholy that suits the story well. This is an innovative approach to an event often depicted.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Landscape
    Fan painting - Landscape by Zheng Shifang

    Landscape in the style of Dong Yuan. Dense piled up mountains on the right and distant vista on the left, complete with architecture and a single walking figure. The identification of the artist is based on the pen name he uses. Liutian is Zheng Shifang, a native of Licheng in Shandong province. One of the few northerners in this collection, there are many reasons why he might have been in the south, perhaps on an administrative assignment, perhaps as a clerk for a more famous official. No dates are given, or other details on his career, other than the fact he was known for landscape. That is easy to accept, and while a tentative nineteenth-century date is appropriate given his inclusion in this collection, the style of the work could easily date it to the previous century. In contrast to the style of Shen Zhaohan, this landscape painting is redolent of the classical orthodox school of the early Qing. The composition, with its dense piled-up mountains on the right and distant vista on the left, complete with architecture and a single walking figure, creates a grand world in this tiny space. The artist's erudition is emphasized by his reference to stylistic precedent in the Five Dynasties artist Dong Yuan (Dong Beiyuan), and he says he is seeking out the "hoary force of his qi." The long stringy strokes that texture the mountains also evoke this heritage.

  • Thumbnail for Fan paingint - Landscape after Huang Gongwang - detail of inscription
    Fan paingint - Landscape after Huang Gongwang - detail of inscription by Gu Linshi (1865-1930)

    Pavilion over the water and the complex of distant mountains with the lines of coniferous trees, can be found in the most famous work of Huang. Foreground scenes of trees and pavilion, mountains to the left. Gu Linshi was by far the oldest of the group known as the "Nine Friends" of Suzhou, and his contribution was to carry the ideas and training of that generation into the twentieth century (see comments on the group under Fan #2). In the literature, Gu is discussed in combination with Lu Hui (1851-1920) (not represented in this collection), as artists who insisted on an awareness and respect for past traditions even as they forged new stylistic expressions. His standing is suggested by the inclusion of one of his works in the "Century in Crisis" exhibition, a work in the style of the late Yuan artist Xu Ben. Andrews recounts how Lu Hui and Gu Linshi, along with other Suzhou painters, emphasized the importance of traditional styles, although they knew and interacted with more iconoclastic painters from Shanghai. Gu and Wu Dacheng, a "rising political figure, …scholar, collector, calligrapher and amateur painter," organized the Yiyuan huaji, a painting society, at Gu's home in 1891. Gu was therefore a pivotal figure in an extended group of artists that included many of the names in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Gu came from an established family, and his grandfather Gu Wenbin (1811-1889) owned "…one of the most important collections in Suzhou at the time." His interest in and expertise on earlier artists is documented in the painting referred to above. There are more than thirty works by him referenced in Laing's lists of twentieth-century artists, testifying to his stature and popularity in his day. Gu says in his inscription that this fan is in the manner of the great Yuan master Huang Gongwang. It is not clear which specific painting of Huang's Gu is referring to, but elements in the composition, specifically the pavilion over the water and the complex of distant mountains with the lines of coniferous trees, can be found in the most famous work by Huang, the Fuchun Mountain Scroll. The manipulation of space is done well, with the foreground scene of trees and pavilion used as a repoussoire, so that the mountains to the left recede effectively into the distance. The classical reference fits well into the kind of paintings Gu did.

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    Fan painting - Landscape 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 - Woman in a garden
    Fan painting - Woman in a garden by Fei Danxu (1801-1850)

    A lady leans on a rock withing a garden enclosure. Fei Danxu was one of the most popular and successful artists in the nineteenth century. He was active in both Hangzhou and Shanghai. Although he painted every possible subject, he is most remembered for his figure paintings, especially those of women. His tradition lived on in the work of his sons, one of whom, Fei Yigeng, is represented in this collection. In this fan, the lady who leans against the rock with her head resting on her hand adopts the "relaxed and unaffected look" for which Danxu was famous. As with so many images of women, the figure is placed in a setting bounded by a fence, suggesting the boundaries and limitations of their lives. Although she can appreciate the garden with its trees, she is confined by her life within the home. Danxu's ladies have a dreamy expression, however, that might suggest that their thoughts are elsewhere, and this may be a part of their attractiveness. The leaves of the trees, painted in two shades of greenish blue, are particularly effective.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Temple in the Mountains
    Fan painting - Temple in the Mountains by Zhu Chengshou

    The temple nestled in the mountains inside a stone wall suggests a romantic retreat, far removed from the urban life. The buildings and rocks are surrounded by dense low shrubs and there are lumpy peaks of mountains. The identification of this artist is tentative. Zhu Chengshou is recorded, but the only information given is that he was appointed to the court as a gongsheng (senior licentiate) in 1869. While this date is almost in the middle of two possible years on the sixty-year cycle for bingshen, a gongsheng appointment would come only after one had established a reputation, so an earlier date seems most likely. The temple nestled in the mountains inside a stone wall suggests a romantic retreat, far removed from the urban life that any official would have led. The buildings and rocks surrounded by dense low shrubs reminds one of the paintings of Gong Xian, a famous artist from earlier in the dynasty. Then again, the lumpy peaks of the mountains suggest the style of the Five Dynasties artist Zhuran: perhaps both references were intended. A path enters the scene at bottom right, continues past the temple gate, and then crosses a stream before exiting left. This is a very attractive work, with a personal style.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Calligraphy
    Fan painting - Calligraphy by Ma Xifan

    There are two blocks of calligraphy: on the right are six lines of clerical script with eight characters to a line, seven in the last line. On the left, a longer block in smaller regular script, eight lines with about sixteen characters to the line. Within the last line is the dedication and signature. Ma Xifan is not recorded in the sources I used. The calligraphy on the right appears to be a memorial for an individual, very likely from a Han dynasty source. It is written in a restrained clerical script, emphasizing the horizontal structure of the characters. The rounded ends of the horizontal strokes suggest similar features in the brushwork of Yang Xian (1819-1896), although there is no documentation for this connection. The calligraphy is done with some skill, and the artist must have been a person who took the art of calligraphy seriously.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - women in a garden
    Fan painting - women in a garden 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 Lady Tanchen (act. late 19th century)

    Transcription on the "Loshen Fu" (Ode on the Nymph of the Lo River). There are fifty six lines alternating between lines of eighteen and ten characters (in two instances, two short and two long lines are together.) The characters are written in a tiny regular script,two lines with the dedication, date and signature are at the far left. There is no other record of this artist. Although dated within the sixty-year cycle, the specific year cannot be settled until someone uncovers more information on the life span of the artist. For comments on women artists and on writing such small characters, see fan #1. The text is the "Ode on the Nymph of the Lo River," written by Cao Zhi (Cao Zijian) who lived from 192-232. This is a famous literary piece, often illustrated by artists over the centuries. Students would find this an interesting topic for an essay.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Calligraphy
    Fan painting - Calligraphy by Mei Zhizhi (1794-1843)

    19 lines of running script, the lines alternating between longer lines of five to six characters and shorter lines of three to four characters; first four lines with dedication (to a 'Yunxi lianchi dashi') and a date ('jiyani 1794') which is the date the artist, Mei Zhizhi, was born; last line with signature of artist. Mei Zhizhi, called Yunsheng, is one of the earlier artists in the collection. His home was Jiangdu in Jiangsu province. The date given in the second line does not fit into the artist's lifetime, nor is it in the usual place for dating a work of art. It is yet to be determined whether the date refers to the year of the artist's birth or if this is a coincidence. Outside of the dictionary citation, no other information was found on the artist. He was a zhuren in 1839, which means he would have had a modest, perhaps local, reputation as a scholar. Although he was in his forties when he attained this honor, it took many scholars years of trying before they succeeded at the exams. He was only 50 years old when he died five years later. The well formed and disciplined characters suggest a person who had spent many years studying the masters, in this case, most likely the famous Song calligrapher Huang Tingjian. The energy of the brush moves from line to line and character to character in a fluent and convincing manner. Zhizhi's brief citation does mention that he was known for his running script, and this fan suggests that his reputation was deserved.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Scholar with servant in nature
    Fan painting - Scholar with servant in nature by Lianxi

    Strolling scholar accompanied by a servant carrying a qin. This unidentified artist states that he is using the model of Tang Yin (Tang Ziwei), a popular and very famous Ming dynasty calligrapher and painter. There is not way of knowing when the fan was done, but certainly by the late nineteenth-century the image of the scholar in his flowing robes with the servant carrying his qin was as anachronistic to most Chinese as it is to us. There certainly may have been a deep-seated yearning for such an idyllic world, given war, rebellion, and foreign intrusions, but such a life not to be had. The artist was trained in the conservative techniques for landscape and figure, and has not risen above his models.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Calligraphy - detail of seal
    Fan painting - Calligraphy - detail of seal by Yu, the younger [?]

    Eleven uneven lines of running script, alternating between lines of seven to eight characters and lines of three characters. After this is a block of smaller characters, seven lines with varying number of characters each. The fourth (raised) contains the dedication and the last line the date and signature. The writer has not been identified. The character di, which I have translated as "younger person," can have several meanings, all indicating a person of lower status. In a strict sense it can mean "younger brother," but it could also mean "follower" "religious follower," or just "person of lower status." The style of the script is close to that of the Song artist Su Shi, mentioned frequently in these fans. A careful translation of the fan may reveal some clues to support or refute this assumption.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Landscape with hut
    Fan painting - Landscape with hut by Unknown

    A hut set amid trees along a riverbank. The name of the artist is not written clearly enough to read. In the foreground is the bank of a lake or river with a single simple hut set beside a path that leads from the far right edge of the fan to the far left, where it disappears into a cluster of rocks. Around the hut grow several trees. Across the water rises a larger mountain mass, and the land diminishes bit by bit into the distance at the right. The curved horizon fits the contours of the fan, and the composition effectively fits the space. The brushwork is simple and straightforward, and one could characterize it with the word "bland" which had been developed in the Yuan dynasty as a positive artistic criterion. The artist states that he is working in the tradition of Shen Gaosai. The characters for Gaosai are partly abraded, and could be wrong. One would expect the reference to be Shen Zhou, whose work this fan does resemble. The date could be a multiple of the sixty-year cycle, of course.

  • 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 - Scattered Vegetables - detail of seal
    Fan painting - Scattered Vegetables - detail of seal by Yao Yuanzhi (1776-1852)

    Eggplant, gourds, radishes, turnips and other vegetables, lie in an unordered composition on a surface. Some are painted in an ink outline, some with colored washes, some with both. Detail of seal at base of inscription on right of fan. The ups and down of Yao's career were in many ways typical of the careers of civil servants in these difficult years. By attaining the jinshi degree in 1805, he became one of the select few officials who would be responsible for governing the empire. It also gave him access to the highest social circles and the very best collections of painting and calligraphy. The seal with the name "Southern Studio" probably refers to the prestigious appointment Yao received to attend the Jiaqing emperor in his Southern Studio in 1809. This same seal appears on one of a pair of calligraphic scrolls in another collection. In this work he credits the painter Zhu Angzhi for inspiring his calligraphy, while elsewhere it is recorded that Zhu Ben was also a teacher. These two were popular artists in the northern capital, and so Yao is one of the few artists in the collection who seemed to have been aware of trends outside the Yangtze River area. Eggplant, gourds, radishes, turnips and other vegetables, lie in an unordered composition on a surface. Some are painted in an ink outline, some with colored washes, some with both. The loose "boneless" treatment of the vegetables, as well as the lack of structure in the calligraphy, seem at odds with the carefully constructed characters for which he was well-known, Although undated, the work was certainly done in the first half of the century, after his appointment to the Southern Studio.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Scholar on donkey
    Fan painting - Scholar on donkey by Ren Yu (1853-1901)

    Scholar on a donkey crossing a bridge with a backdrop of mountains. This is one of two fans in the collection by this artist. This fan has a very odd shape, one that I have not seen before, and one wonders if it has not been cut down from perhaps an ovoid shape. Ren Yu became much more of a conservative artist than the other members of his family. This fan is a good example of that, and the elements of the landscape come out of the orthodox tradition going back to the Four Wangs of the early Sing. The sense of space is particularly well-handled, with a foreground, middle ground, and deep distance all present in this tiny format. It is easy to think of this as routine, but in fact it takes a great deal of skill to make this work well. The painting of the donkey does seem a bit strained, and this may not have been Ren Yu's strong point.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - calligraphy
    Fan painting - calligraphy by Lu Bangzhan

    Sixty-four lines alternating between lines of approximately fifteen characters and lines of five characters, all written in a small regular script historically used for transcription of Buddhist sutras. The writer has not been identified. The text is a Buddhist sutra, or sacred text. The copying of such texts has always been seen as a way to gain religious merit, and is something a devout layperson might do. Although many famous calligraphers wrote out Buddhist texts, an ordinary layperson who had no reputation could do as well.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - The Lute Song - detail of inscription
    Fan painting - The Lute Song - detail of inscription by Shen Yuebin (act.1820-1850)

    A single woman in her boat and two men in theirs, both placed along the banks of the river. The identification of the artist is tentative at best, and rests on the interpretation of the character Yi. Yilou is the pen name of Shen Yuebin, who exists only as a single entry in the dictionary of artist's names. The entry states he was known for his regular script, but does not mention painting. Nevertheless, the careful organization of the composition and the meticulous brushwork in an almost miniature scene implies someone who could work with a similar approach in calligraphy. All elements in this scene refer to the story of the Lute Song: the single woman in her boat and the two men in theirs, both placed along the banks of the river. By laying out the banks of the river as overlapping spits of land separated by wide expanses of water, the artist introduces an aura of emptiness and melancholy that suits the story well. This is an innovative approach to an event often depicted.

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

    Calligraphy: Thirteen lines of running script, alternating between long and short lines. After these lines are six more, in much the same calligraphy, but with smaller characters, that contain the dedication and signature. Detail is of signature and seal. Wu Xizai's career mirrored that of a number of well-educated and talented men of his generation whose success and aspirations were affected by the epochal political events of his time, most notably the Taiping Rebellion, which laid waste the center of China during the mid-century. Originally from Yangzhou, a city with a tragic past but a lively artistic life in the mid-Qing, he came from a middle-class family-his father made a living as a fortune teller and physiognomist-but was recognized as a promising scholar and appointed as a shengyuan or "flourishing talent." As early as 1819, as a very young man, he had participated in the editing of the writings of his teacher Bao Shichen (1775-1855), one of the most important calligraphers of the Qing Dynasty. Wu was later to name his own studio the Shi Shen Xuan (the Student of Shen's (Bao Shichen) Studio). Bao's praise of Wu's calligraphy certainly promoted this student's success. Indeed, a section of Bao Shichen's famous treatise Yizhou shuangji was written as a response to questions raised by Wu. A decade later, around 1829, he came under the influence of Deng Shiju (1743-1805), perhaps the greatest of the calligraphic innovater in the Qing. Around the mid 1830s he was in contact with Tang Yifen, whose fan painting is also in this collection, another important painter and calligrapher of the time. In 1853 he was forced to flee the city before the advancing Taiping rebels. Until 1864 he remained a refugee in Taizhou, supported by members of the upper class who admired his calligraphy and painting. In his later years, with his sight failing, he leaned even more heavily on the good graces of those he had known. Wu Yun (1811-1883), a prominent collector and benefactor, was particularly important. The artist used the name "Xizai" between the years 1848 to 1861, after which he abandoned the name to avoid the taboo of using a character in the personal name of the Tongzhi Emperor, Zaichun. Works with "Xizai" in the signature or seal can therefore be dated before 1861, which would be true of both of these examples. As noted earlier, Wu suffered reverses of his health in his later years, and it is not yet certain how many works from the last decade of his life actually exist. Because of his fame, Wu's work was forged even in his lifetime. Brown documents the history of the rise and fall of critical interest in this artist, from popularity to obscurity, and then a renewed interest after a Japanese publication of his ouvre in 1978. His work influenced major artists of the next generation such as Zhao Zhiqian and Wu Changshuo. The calligraphy here has characteristics found in published works by the artist, including an idiosyncratic approach to the structure, as if every time a character were written he had to search for a new way to put the pieces together. Sometimes this is less successful than others.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Landscape with pavilion - detail of inscription
    Fan painting - Landscape with pavilion - detail of inscription by Zhu Yiliang

    The pavilion on the promotory gives a vantage point from which one can enjoy the scene and while the boats under the sail out carry one across the waves. At the very end of the inscription is the name Hanshi, which is the zi of the Kangxi artist Zhu Yiliang. This would then be the earliest artist in the collection by far, but the identification should be accepted with some caution. Zhu Yiliang was known for calligraphy and seal carving, not painting. While the dedication does not contain the standard nineteenth century phrasing, the style is not convincingly eighteenth century. Finally, one would need to ask why a single early artist made his way into the collection. Could a later unrecorded artist have had used the name Hanshi as well? Only the emergence of other works signed with the same name will answer the question. The scene depicted is that of the cliff or promontory called the Yan[zi]ji on the banks of the broad Yangtze River. Although mountains may not have been so high in the south, no Chinese artist was restricted by photographic realism. The pavilion on the promontory gives a vantage point from which one can enjoy the scene or travel across the waves on one of the boats under sail. The inscription begins with two seven-character quatrains, then the title and the artist's name.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Calligraphy
    Fan painting - Calligraphy by Zhang Daqian (1899-1983)

    Fourteen uneven lines alternating between lines of five and lines of two characters, written in a regular-running script. The last line in slightly smaller characters contains the date and signature. From the signature, this is another work by the famous twentieth century artist Zhang Daqian. The signature here is very close to that on the other fan in the collection, and that one has the notation "man of Shu" or Sichuan, the province from which Daqian came. If this fan were to be by Daqian, it would be the latest dated work in the collection, by far. There were other artists with the pen name Daqian, but none of them were from Sichuan. Ultimately, it should be possible to compare this with other works by the artist done near that date to determine its authenticity. The calligraphic style immediately calls to mind the characters of the Song artist Huang Tingjian, who has always been an icon of the expressive possibilities of the brush. The long wavering terminations of strokes that extend beyond the normal bounds of the calligraphy were his trademark. If the date is correct, this would be the work of a younger Daqian, and one could critique the piece by noting that the expressive possibilities of Huang Tingjian's calligraphy are a bit overused here. This artist creates the long terminations whereever possible; Tingjian did it rarely, only for effect. The last line, "To wash one's ears it is not necessary to use the water from a Bodhisattva's spring" is interesting. The meaning, I would guess, is that ordinary water is as good for washing as that blessed by a deity.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Landscape
    Fan painting - Landscape by Wu Guxiang (1843-1903)

    The painting has an idyllic setting which recalls the classic heritage, and is close in its feeling to a published handscroll. Careful selection and placement of a few elements two trees, a single pavilion, a shoreline in distance to the right and few mountains and hills to the left. Soft pastel colors are used. Wu Guxiang is one of the best known painters of the late nineteenth century. He was well traveled. He began his career in Suzhou, then went to Yushan and Shanghai, eventually in 1892 heading far north to the capital in Beijing before returning again to Shanghai the following year. He was one of the few artists in the group who would have experienced the artistic climate in the capital, probably hearing about political intrigue and foreign oppression from acquaintances there. He was also able to profit from the study of older paintings in Beijing collections. Although he lived and worked in Shanghai, he was far more conservative than most artists in that city, which was more oriented to merchant taste than a classical style. In the South he was one of the "Nine Friends of Suzhou." Such groupings have appeared frequently in later Chinese art history: for example, there are the "Nine Friends of Painting," the "Four Wangs," the "Four lesser Wangs" and the "Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou." These names are convenient handles, but they often gloss over important dissimilarities in style and careers. For instance, not all of the "Nine Friends" were productive artists. In the two major lists compiled by Sirén and Laing (Laing's limited to the twentieth century), there are no entries for Wu Dacheng, Wu Guxiang, Jin Lan, or Ren Yu, and only one for Hu Xigui. The one work by Wu Dacheng I have seen is not impressive, and he may be included in the group simply because of his social stature. In contrast Sirén has more than a half dozen for Gu Yun, and Laing has dozens of entries for Ni Tian, Lu Hui, and Gu Linshi. Gu Yun, Gu Linshi, and Lu Hui are also given prominent exposure in the major exposition A Century in Crisis. In another important exhibition, Ni Tian, Wu Guxiang, Lu Hui, and Ren Yu appear. Gu Yun was well known in his day and went to Japan as a sort of "cultural envoy" where he taught painting to interested Japanese. He, Lu Hui, and Gu Linshi were known as conservative "revivalists" early in their careers, while Ni Tian and to a certain extent Ren Yu represented the more innovative and iconoclastic Shanghai school. The group obviously spans two generations-two generations in which great changes occurred in the social and political arenas. They all did know each other, and probably interacted on a frequent schedule. To return to Wu's fan: it is close in feeling to a published handscroll painted by him. Both recall his Suzhou heritage, wherein he follows a long line of artists who admired and imitated the great late Ming artist Wen Zhengming. The idyllic setting recalls this classical heritage, seen in the careful selection and placement of a few elements: two trees, a single pavilion, a shoreline in the distance to the right and a few mountains and hills to the left. Soft pastel colors, used with restraint, are also typical of this approach.

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Orchids, rocks and mushrooms
    Fan painting - Orchids, rocks and mushrooms 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.