Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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元 錢選 梨花圖 卷
Pear Blossoms

Artist:
Qian Xuan (Chinese, ca. 1235–before 1307)
Period:
Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)
Date:
ca. 1280
Culture:
China
Medium:
Handscroll; ink and color on paper
Dimensions:
Image: 12 5/16 x 37 7/8 in. (31.3 x 96.2 cm) Overall with mounting: 12 5/8 x 34 ft. 9 1/8 in. (32.1 x 1059.5 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1977
Accession Number:
1977.79
Not on view
Qian Xuan was one of the first scholar-painters to unite poetry, painting, and calligraphy within a single work. In Pear Blossoms a perfect interplay of poetic and pictorial imagery has been achieved. The artist's poem may be translated as follows:

All alone by the veranda railing,
teardrops drenching the branches,
Although her face is unadorned,
her old charms remain;
Behind the locked gate, on a rainy night,
how she is filled with sadness.
How differently she looked bathed in golden waves
of moonlight, before the darkness fell.

Unlike Emperor Huizong's (r. 1101–25) Finches and Bamboo, which demonstrates a commitment to an accurate rendering of nature, Qian Xuan's flowering branch and the fading beauty it represents are expressions of the artist's personal feelings. Rather than rendering an objective description of the physical beauty of pear blossoms, Qian drew in a fine calligraphic line and used flat schematic patterns in elegant pale colors to create a mood of cool detachment, reflective of his state of mind. The tender lyricism of the poem is also fully present in his calligraphy, in which the brushstrokes echo the languidly twisting movement of the pear leaves.
Signature: At the left of the painting is an allegorical poem by the painter which reads:
All alone, by the veranda railing, teardrops drenching the branches,
Though her face is unadorned, her old charms remain;
Behind the locked gate, on a rainy night,
how she is filled with sadness.
How different was the time
when she bathed in the gold waves (of moonlight)
just before total darkness fell.

Inscription: The painting is followed by a colophon section containing poems and notes by 18 Yuan and Ming literati and Buddhist monks, all undated, but probably late 14th century. Also a note by collector Xiang Yuanbian (1525–1590) dated 1551; a poem by Yongxing (1752–1823), the 11th son of the Qianlong Emperor, dated 1789; a poem and two notes by Wu Rongguang (1773–1843) dated 1836–7 and 1834–5; a poem and note by Cheng Enze (1735–1837) dated 1837; a note by Li Zongfang (19th century) dated 1837; a note by Pan Zhengwei (1791–1850) dated 1849.

Before the painting:
a. Title strip mounted before the painting, written by Yongxing (1752–1823), 11th son of the Qianlong Emperor, titled Prince Cheng: "Qian Shunzhu's 'Pear Blossoms' with 18 poems inscribed by Yuan and Ming men". [Signed] Yijinzhai

On the painting:
b. Xiang Yuanbian (1525–1590): Inventory character "yi"
c. Qian Xuan (ca. 1235–after 1300): poem and signature written in informal-regular script, 4 lines (translated in Lee and Ho, "Chinese Art under the Mongols", cat. no. 180).

After the painting:
D-V appear to have been written contemporaneously in the late 14th century (early Ming) by a coterie in Zhekiang:
d. Ma Fu: two poems with 7-character lines, written in informal-regular script, 5 lines
e. Wu Zhongzhuang: 1 poem with 7-character lines, regular script, 3 lines.
f. Yuan Fu: 1 poem in 5-character lines, regular script, 3 lines.
g. Xia Boyin: 1 poem with 7-character lines, regular script, 3 lines.
h. Zhu Fan: 1 poem with 7-character lines, regular script, 3 lines.
i. Luoqi: 1 poem in 5-character lines, cursive script, 3 lines.
j. Daxing: 1 poem with 7-character lines, semicursive script, 2 lines.
k. Wang Shen (1360–1400): prose inscription in regular script, 5 lines.
l. Yuezhan: 1 poem with 5-character lines, semicursive script, 3 lines.
m. Qianlao: 1 poem with 7-character lines, semicursive script, 4 lines.
n. Zhang Pu: 1 poem with 7-character lines, regular script, 3 lines.
o. Zheng Yuo: 1 poem with 7-character lines, regular script, 3 lines.
p. Zhou Yong: 2 poems with 5-character lines, regular script, 6 lines.
q. Yen You: 2 poems with 7-character lines, regular script, 6 lines.
r. Yen You: 1 poem with 7-character lines, regular script, 3 lines.
s. Yang Luo: 1 poem with 7-character lines, semicursive script, 3 lines.
t. Fan Yenliang: 1 poem with 7-character lines, semicursive script, 4 lines.
u. Taoxia: 1 poem with 7-character lines, semicursive script, 3 lines.
v. Shijian: 1 poem with 7-character lines, semicursive script, 3 lines.
w. Xiang Yuanbian (1525–1590): 3 lines of regular script giving artist's name, title of painting and purchase price of painting (10 taels), dated 1551.
x. Yongxing (1752–1823): 1 poem with 7-character lines, regular script, 4 lines, dated 1789.
y. Wu Songguang (1773–1843): 1 poem with 7-character lines, and a prose note, regular script, 9 lines, dated 1836–7.
z. Wu Rongguang: Prose note written in semicursive script, 6 lines, dated 1834–5; this note refers to his having first seen the painting in 1826.
aa. Cheng Enze (1785–1837): 1 poem with 7-character lines, with annotations, semicursive script, 11 columns, dated 1837.
bb. Li Zongfang (1779–1846): 1 line of regular script, dated 1837.
cc. Pan Zhengwei (1791–1850): Prose note, regular script, 5 lines, dated 1849.

Marking: Seals
Before the painting:
1. Xiang Yuanbian (1525–1590): (fragmentary, intaglio, square) Molin Shanren (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 35).
2. Xiang (fragmentary, intaglio, square) Youfang Zhiwai, (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 55).
3. Yongxing (1752–1823), intaglio, square: Yijinzhai (Wang & Contag, p. 96, no. 2).

Straddling the painting:
4. Xiang (relief, gourd-shaped: Zijing (Wang & Contag, p. 610, no. 7).
5. Xiang (relief, tall rectantle): Xiang Zijing Jia Zhencang (Wang & Contag, p. 612, no. 63).

On the painting:
6. Xiang (relief, paired square): Shenpin (Wang & Contag, p. 610, no. 21).
7. Unidentified cipher seal
8. Xiang (relief, square) Xiang Yuanbian yin (Wang & Contag, p. 610, no. 9).
9. Xiang (relief, oval): Jiao (close to Wang & Contag, p. 610, no. 20).
10. Wang Shen? (relief, square): Taijian Wang Shen Shoucang Shuhua ji
11. Xiang (intaglio, square): Xishou Gengou (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 50).
12. Qian Xuan (ca. 1235–after 1300) intaglio, square: Qianshi (not in Wang & Contag or Palace Museum Signatures and Seals).
13. Wen Zhengming (1470–1559) intaglio, square; Wen Zhengming yin (Wang & Contag, p. 20, no. 11).
14. Wen C--m (relief, square), Hengshan (Wang & Contag, p. 20, no. 23).
15. Zhong Baoheng (20th century Cantonese collector), relief, square: Zhongshi Baoheng Biwan.
16. Xiang (intaglio, square): Zisun Yongbao (Wang & Contag, p. 610, no. 18).
17. Xiang (intaglio, square): Molin Biwan (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 25).
18. Xiang (relief, square): Piaozheng Zhenshan (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 42).
19. Xiang (intaglio, square): Huang, Shuzi (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 56).
20. Yongxing (relief, square): Huang Shiyizi Chengqinwang Yijinzhai Tushuyin (not in Wang & Contag or National Palace Museum Signatures and Seals).
21. Qianlong Emperor (1711–1799) relief, tall, rectangular: Shiqu Baoji (Wang & Contag, p. 582, no. 31).
22. Wen Peng (1498–1573) intaglio, square: Siqiao Zhushi (Wang & Contag, p. 15, no. 3).
23. Wen P. (relief, square) Wen Pang zhiyin (Wang & Contag, p. 15, no. 5).
24. (?) cf. 33, 37, 65 Qing? (relief, tall, rectangular): Xin xing Lishi Yunhuiluo cang.
25. (?) cf. 63, 115, 140 which are same seal) Ming?: Chen Kunyou cang.
26. Xiang (relief, gourd: Domi (Wang & Contag, p. 610, no. 61).
27. Xiang (relief, tall, rectangular) Xuang Molin fu Biji zhiyin (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 61).
28. Xiang (relief, tall, rectangular): Zuili Xiang shi Shijia Baowan (Wang & Contag, p. 612, no. 66).
29. Qianlong (relief, oval) Qianlong youlan zhi Bao (Palace Museum Signatures and Seals III, p. 49, 2nd row, last on right)

After painting:
30. Xiang (round, relief): Zuili (Wang & Contag, p. 610, no. 8).
31. Xiang (intaglio, square): Zisun shichang (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 49).
32. Xiang (intaglio, tall, rectangular) Xiang Molin jianshang zhang (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 59).
33. Mr. Li (cf. 24), intaglio, tall, rectangular: Yunhuiluo cang.
34. Xiang (intaglio, tall, rectangular with yaxing corners): Molinzi (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 45).
35. Mr. Zhu(?) intaglio, square: Zhushi so? tong?
36. An Qi (1683–after 1742) intaglio, square: Yizhou jianshang (Wang & Contag, p. 536, no. 3).
37.?Li (cf. 24, 33, 65) intaglio, square: Li ...-han
38. Yongxing (intaglio, square): Yongxing zhiyin (Wang & Contag, p. 96, no. 5).
39. Xiang (relief, paired square): Shenpin (Wang & Contag, p. 610, no. 21).
40. Qian Xuan (intaglio, square): Shunzhu yinzhang (Palace Museum Signatures and Seals I, p. 154, bottom row, 2nd from right).
41. Qian X. (relief, square): (Palace Museum Signatures and Seals I, p. 154, bottom row, 2nd from left).
42. Qian, X. (intaglio, square) Qian Xuan zhiyin (Palace Museum Signatures and Seals I, p. 154, bottom row, top right).
43. Qian, X. (intaglio, square: Zhuxiweng Qian Xuan Shunzhu (similar to Palace Museum Signatures and Seals I, p. 155, top left).
44. Liang Qingbiao (1620–1691) (intaglio, square): Liang Qingbiao yin (Wang & Contag, p. 573, no. 10).
45. (?) Ruyifu? shending (relief, square)
46. Yuan Rong (act. late 14th–15th c.) relief, square: Fengtianjingnan Tuichengxuanliwuchen Tejin Rongluodaifu Zhuguo Fumaduwei Guangpinghou Yuan Rong Tushuyin.
47. Wen Peng (intaglio, square): Wen Peng zhiyin (close to Wang & Contag, p. 15, no. 2).
48. Wen P. (intaglio, square) Shouchengshi
49. Wu Rongguang (1773–1843) relief, square: Wu Rongguang yin
50. Wu Yuanhui (19th c.), intaglio, square: Lichuan shending (Wang & Contag, p. 573, no. 7).
51. Xiang (intaglio, square): Gongbaoshijia (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 57).
52. Xiang (relief, gourd): Zijing (Wang & Contag, p. 610, no. 7).
53. Xiang Yuanbian (1525–1590) fragmentary, intaglio, square: Molin Shanren (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 35).
54. Xiang (fragmentary, intaglio, square) Youfang Zhiwai (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 55).
55. Xiang (relief, tall, rectangular): Xiang Zijing jia zhencang (Wang & Contag, p. 612, no. 63).
56. Yuan Rong (relief, square) Yuanshi jiacang zisun yongbao zhi.
57. Xiang (fragment, intaglio, square): Zijing (socang) (appears to be same as Wang & Contag, p. 610, no. 10).
58. Xiang (intaglio, square): Zisun yongbao (Wang & Contag, p. 610, no. 18).

Straddling join between painting paper and colophon paper:
59. Xiang (intaglio, square) Molin Zhuren (Palace Museum Signatures and Seals II, p. 286, 2nd row, 2nd from left).

On Colophon section:
60. Xiang (fragment, relief, tall, rectangular): Taohuayuanli renjia (appears to be same as Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 62).
61. Xiang (fragment, intaglio, square): Zijing fu (appears to be same as Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 53).
62. Xiang (round, relief): Zuili (Wang & Contag, p. 610, no. 8).
63. (?) cf. 115, 140 which are same seal) Ming? Chen kunyou cang.
64. Xiang (intaglio, square): Xiang Molin yin (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 58).
65. (?)Li (cf. 24, 33, 37), intaglio, tall, rectangular: Li Yichuan jia.
66. Ma Fu (intaglio, square: Ma Fu Bo zhang.
67. Ma Fu? Intaglio, square: --------------
68. Wu Zhongzhang (intaglio, square) Shang?-jiungzhai.
69. Wu C-c: Wu Zhongzhang shi (intaglio, square)
70. Xia Boyin (intaglio, square): Shanzhong Baiyun??
71. (?) (intaglio, tall, rectangular): Zi? yangsheng.
72. Zhu Fan (intaglio, square): Zhu Fan zhiyin.
73. Zhu Fan (intaglio, square): Zhu Keyou.
74. Zhu Fan (relief, square): Su?-xing?-zhai.
75. (?) (intaglio, tall, rectangular): Huanyuan ke?
76. Luo Qi (intaglio, square): Luo shi Yuanqi.
77. Xiang (relief, gourd-shaped): Zijing (Wang & Contag, p. 610, no. 7).
78. Xiang (relief, square: (Zijing fuyin (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 32).
79. Xiang (relief, square: Xulangzhai (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 54).
80. Duzing? (intaglio, square): Zhou Wen zhiyin.
81. Daxing? (intaglio, square): Linhuo zhuo?-chan.
82. Wang Shen (1360–1400)?, intaglio, tall, rectangular: Jinhua.
83. Wang Shen? (intaglio, square): ...-lin-...
84. Wang Shen? (intaglio, square): ?-...zhai yin.
85. Wang Shen (intaglio, square): Wang Shen zhiyin.
86. Wang Shen (square): Zhongjin.
87. Yuechan (intaglio, square): Shiqiao yunbao?
88. Xiang (relief, square): Ruoshuixuan (Wang & Contag, p. 610, no. 4).
89. Xiang (relief, pair of square): Molin (Wang & Contag, p. 610, no. 6).
90. Xiang (intaglio, long, rectangular): Molin Xiang Jizi zhang (Wang & Contag, p. 610, no. 23).
91. Xiang (relief, square): Shenyou xingshang (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 37).
92. Zhang Pu (intaglio, square): Zhang Tongji.
93. (?) (intaglio, square): (?)
94. Zheng You? (intaglio, square): ......-ji.
95. Zheng You (intaglio, square): ...zhizhai.
96. (?) (intaglio, tall, rectangular): x- x- xuan.
97. (?) (relief, square): Chengnan Shushe.
98. Zhou Yong (intaglio, square): ....zhai.
99. Zhou Yong (intaglio, square): Tiantai shanren.
100. Xiang (relief, tall, ellipse): Kaogu Zhengjin (Palace Museum Signatures and Seals II, p. 288, bottom row, middle).
101. Xiang (intaglio, square): Xiang shi Zijing (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 33).
102. Xiang (intaglio, square): Xiang Hanmoyin (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 31).
103. Yen You? (intaglio, square): Wen Bing.
104. Yang Luo (intaglio, square): Yang Luo heyin.
105. Yang Luo (intaglio, square): Zong? -yi?
106. Xiang (intaglio, tall, rectangular): ....yin.
107. Xiang (relief, square): Zijing zhenbi (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 34).
108. Xiang (intaglio, tall, rectangular): Xiang Yuanbian zi Zijing (Wang & Contag, p. 700, no. 73).
109. Fan Yenliang (relief, square): x x x x .
110. An Qi (relief, gourd): Xinshang (Wang & Contag, p. 537, no. 13).
111. An C. (relief, tall, rectangular): An Yizhou jia zhencang (Wang & Contag, p. 537, no. 11).
112. Taoxia (intaglio, square): Zhengxin Xing-...
113. Shijian (intaglio, square): x x x
114. Wu Yuanhui (19th c.) intaglio, square: Wu Baoheng Lichuan shi.
115. (?) cf. 63, 115, 140 which are same seal Ming?: Chen Kunyou cang.
116. Wen Zhengming (1470–1559) intaglio, square: Wen Zhengming yin (Wang & Contag, p. 20, no. 11).
117. Wen C-m (relief, square): Hengshan (Wang & Contag, p. 20, no. 23).
118. Xiang (round, relief): Taoli (Wang & Contag, p. 610, no. 16).
119. Xiang (relief, square): Xiang Yuanbian yin (Wang & Contag, p. 610, no. 9).
120. Xiang (relief, tall, rectangular): Xiang Molin fu Biji zhiyin (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 61).
121. Xiang (intaglio, square): Gongbaoshijia (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 57).
122. Wen P. (relief, square): Wen Peng zhiyin (Wang & Contag, p. 15, no. 5).
123. Wen Peng (1498–1573): intaglio, square: Siqiao Zhushi (Wang & Contag, p. 15, no. 3).
124. Wen P. (intaglio, square): Shouchengshi.
125. Mr. Zhu? (relief, square): Zhu shi zhencang.
126. Xiang (relief, tall, rectangular): Zuili Xiangshi shijia baowan (Wang & Contag, p. 612, no. 66).
127. Xiang [partly obliterated] intaglio, tall, rectangular: Molin x x.
128. Xiang (intaglio, rectangular): Xiang molin jianshang zhang (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 59).
129. Liang Qingpiao (relief, round): Cang yenzi (Wang & Contag, p. 574, no. 13).
130. Liang (intaglio, square): Jiaolin zhushi (Wang & Contag, p. 573, no. 4).
131. Xiang [partly obliterated] intaglio, tall, rectangular: Xi?shou Gengou (may be Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 50).
132. Xiang (intaglio, square): Huang, Shuzi (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 56).
133. Xiang (relief, gourd): Domi (Wang & Contag, p. 610, no. 22).
134. Wu Yuanhui (relief, tall, rectangular): Nanhai Wushi Nanxuezhai biji yin (Wang & Contag, p. 535, no. 12).
135. Xiang (intaglio, square): Molin Biwan (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 25).
136. Xiang (relief, square): Piaozhang Zhenshan (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 42).
137. (?) intaglio, square: Li x x cang.
138. Yongxing (intaglio, square): Yijinzhai yin (Wang & Contag, p. 96, no. 6).
139. An Qi (intaglio, tall, rectangular): Chaoxianren (Wang & Contag, p. 536, no. 6).
140. An Qi (intaglio, square): An Qi zhiyin (Wang & Contag, p. 537, no. 14).
141. (?) cf. 63, 115, 140 which are same seal, Ming?: Chen Kunyou cang.
142. Xiang (relief, pair of square): Molin (Wang & Contag, p. 610, no. 6).
143. Xiang (relief, square): Zijin fu yin (Wang & Contag, p. 611, no. 32).
144. (?) relief, tall, rectangular: Xishi Zhibao.
145. Pan Zhengwei (1791–1850) relief, square: Jitong biwan (similar to Wang & Contag, p. 620, no. 3).
146. Yongxing (intaglio, square): Yongxing zhiyin (Wang & Contag, p. 96, no. 5).
147. Wu Rongguang (half-relief, half intaglio, square): Wu Rongguang.
148. Wu R-g (relief, square): Shiyun shanren.
149. Wu R-g (intaglio, square): Wu Rongguangyin.
150. Cheng Enze (1785–1837) intaglio, square: Chen Enzeyin.
151. Li Zongfang (1779–1846) relief, square: Li Zongfangyin.
152. Pan Zhengwei (relief, square): Jitong.
Sir Percival David , London (until d. 1964) ; his widow, Lady David , later Mrs. Sheila Riddell, London (1964–1977; sold to MMA)
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