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  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Women by the water
    Fan painting - Women by the water by Xichai Yishi

    Two women seated in a pavilion by the water. The artist is not recorded in standard sources. For the record, there is an individual with the pen name Xisai named Tai Zhengqi. He was active in the late nineteenth century, about the time the fan was painted. He is not from Quantang (Hangzhou), however, and he was known as a calligrapher, not a painter. The painting is not without merit. The landscape depicted is complex; on the right a river valley draws the eye back into space. On the left the mountain peaks close in around a temple nestled among a grove of blossoming trees. Just to the right of center, two women are seated in a pavilion whose foundation rises from the water. This is not a standard scene, especially for a fan, and it would have taken someone who knew the art of painting to arrange all these pieces into an effective composition.

  • Thumbnail for The courtesan Yaegiri of the Oginoya Brothel and a portrait of the priest Jakuren
    The courtesan Yaegiri of the Oginoya Brothel and a portrait of the priest Jakuren by Utagawa Hiroshige

    One of the most well known 19th century ukiyo-e artists, famous for his landscape views, particularly his images of the Tokaido. Jakuren was a poet and a Buddhist monk was instrumental in compiling the Shinkokinshu (New Collection of Ancient and Modern Waka), around 1205 – 1206, which included thirty-five of his own works. The poem card at the top of this image depicts an image of the poet and his poem which was number eighty-seven in the well-known Ogura Hyakunin Isshu (One Hundred Poems by 100 Artists), a collection of tanka (five line poems of 31 syllables, arranged as 5, 7, 5, 7, 7).

  • Thumbnail for Fan painting - Flowers
    Fan painting - Flowers by Huang Ju (1801-1860)

    The painting pairs chrysanthemums, an appropriate flower for an artist whose pen name means 'scholar of the autumn' with Chinese garden rocks. Huang Ju, pen name Qiushi, was from Songjiang in Jiangsu province. He was known as a painter of landscapes, figures, the bird and flower genre, and seal carving. His models were from the orthodox school: Yun Shouping for flowers and Wang Hui for landscape. He lived for sixty years, and that alone could establish one's reputation in a culture that revered the aged. The painting pairs crysanthemums, an appropriate flower for an artist whose pen name means "scholar of the autumn," with Chinese garden rocks. These stones, worn through by the ages and dredged up from the depths of lakes, were prized as ornaments in gardens and commanded high prices-as they still do today. The same idea of a garden rock appears in the fan painting in this collection by Ren Xun.