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元 吳鎮 高節凌雲圖 軸
Bamboo, old tree, and rock

Artist:
Wu Zhen (Chinese, 1280–1354)
Period:
Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)
Date:
dated 1338
Culture:
China
Medium:
Hanging scroll; ink on silk
Dimensions:
Image: 65 5/8 x 38 1/2 in. (166.7 x 97.8 cm) Overall with mounting: 117 1/2 x 39 1/2 in. (298.5 x 100.3 cm) Overall with knobs: 117 1/2 x 43 7/8 in. (298.5 x 111.4 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Gift of Oscar L. Tang Family, 2012
Accession Number:
2012.526.1
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 213
This painting shows Wu Zhen's creative adaptation of the "old tree, bamboo, and rock" genre first canonized by eleventh-century scholar-artists. The painting's large scale and use of overlapping forms and graded ink tones to create an illusion of recession, and of rich, wet ink to evoke the appearance of foliage after a drenching rain, recall the descriptive naturalism of Song-dynasty precedents. But Wu tempered this naturalistic approach with a new calligraphic assertiveness inspired by the work of Zhao Mengfu (1254–1322). Bamboo leaves have been reduced to a calligraphic formula of repeating, pattern-like clusters, and the texture strokes and foliage dots used to describe rock surfaces have become emphatic mannerisms derived from the tenth-century masters Dong Yuan and Juran.

In his later years, Wu Zhen specialized in bamboo painting, but even here, in his earliest extant depiction of bamboo, the artist's admiration for this plant is evident, particularly in his poetic inscription:

Tall stalks pierce the clouds.
Perhaps you find it strange,
Not recognizing the wings of a phoenix.
A pure sound enters the realm of the soundless,
Do not let Zhonglang blow his long-necked flute.
Inscription: Artist’s inscription and signature (4 columns in cursive script)

高節凌雲空自奇,
誰人識是鳳凰枝。
至音已入無聲譜,
莫把中郎□笛吹。
至元四年夏五月梅花道人戲墨。

Artist’s seals

Meihua An 梅華盦
Jiaxing Wu Zhen Zhonggui shuhua ji 嘉興吳鎮仲圭書畫記

Label strip

Zhao Shigang 趙時棡 (1874–1945), 1 column in clerical script and 2 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1939; 1 seal:

元吳仲圭 《古木竹石》 真蹟
林氏半角草堂珍藏
已卯秋月趙時棡署。 [印]: 叔孺

Collectors’ seals

Liang Qingbiao 梁清標 (1620–1691)
蕉林
觀其大略
蕉林收藏

Qian Yue 錢樾 (1743–1815)
嘉善錢樾橅棠鑒藏

Wang Jiqian 王季遷 (C. C. Wang, 1907–2003)
王氏季遷珍藏之印
王季遷氏審定真跡

Illegible 1
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