Art/ Collection/ Art Object

元 鄭元祐 楷書師孺齋記 卷
Record of the Following One's Ancestor Studio

Zheng Yuanyou (Chinese, 1292–1364)
Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)
dated 1345
Handscroll; ink on paper
10 3/4 x 37 3/4 in. (27.3 x 96 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Friends of Asian Art Gifts, 1994
Accession Number:
Not on view
This text, written when scholars living in retirement became intimately identified with their gardens or studios, is a rare fourteenth-century example of a new literary genre, the "studio memoir." But as Zheng's brief postscript makes clear, the essay was also intended to function as a letter of introduction for its recipient, an aspiring young student named Xu Huan. In the postscript, Zheng asks Xu Huan to show the scroll to a high-ranking official who might help Xu with an appointment. By adopting the form of a studio history in his essay, Zheng is able to discuss Xu Huan's illustrious family background and virtuous intentions while maintaining a tasteful and face-saving indirectness.

The elegance of Zheng Yuanyou's calligraphy reflects the refined sensibilities of both the writer and the recipient. Zheng was among the first to develop a distinctive new calligraphic style of elongated characters and exaggerated turning strokes and hooks that was based on late Han dynasty archaic models. This antiestablishment style is commonly associated with Zheng's most famous pupil, the recluse-artist Ni Zan (1306–1374), who made it synonymous with scholars living in retirement. Zheng's early use of this style suggests that it was not Ni's personal invention but a widespread cultural phenomenon expressive of the reclusive spirit of the times.
Signature: One artist's seal following Zheng's signature: Zheng Yüanyu yin.

Marking: Nine collectors' seals including one belonging to Feng Fang (1492–1563), Fengshi [Cunshu], two belonging to Ming Fa (unidentified), Ming Fa shan cang and Tengshu jianding, one belonging to an unidentified collector, Luoqin yishao yu ("through my delight in the zither I abolish melancholy"), and five belonging to Ye Gongzhuo (1881–ca. 1968). A seal purporting to belong to the early Yüan scholar Qiu Yüan (1247–after 1327), Qiandang Qiu Yüan, appears to be a spurious later addition.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Text and Image: The Interaction of Painting, Poetry, and Calligraphy," January 23, 1999–August 16, 1999.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Secular and Sacred: Scholars, Deities, and Immortals in Chinese Art," September 10, 2005–January 8, 2006.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Brush and Ink: The Chinese Art of Writing," September 2, 2006–January 21, 2007.

Related Objects

Biographies of Lian Po and Lin Xiangru

Artist: Huang Tingjian (Chinese, 1045–1105) Date: ca. 1095 Medium: Handscroll; ink on paper Accession: 1989.363.4 On view in:Not on view

Emperor Xuanzong's Flight to Shu

Date: mid-12th century Medium: Hanging scroll; ink, color, and gold on silk Accession: 41.138 On view in:Gallery 210

Wang Xizhi watching geese

Artist: Qian Xuan (Chinese, ca. 1235–before 1307) Date: ca. 1295 Medium: Handscroll; ink, color, and gold on paper Accession: 1973.120.6 On view in:Not on view

Liu Chen and Ruan Zhao Entering the Tiantai Mountains

Artist: Zhao Cangyun (Chinese, active late 13th–early 14th century) Medium: Handscroll; ink on paper Accession: 2005.494.1 On view in:Gallery 210

The Pleasures of Fishes

Artist: Zhou Dongqing (Chinese, active late 13th century) Date: dated 1291 Medium: Handscroll; ink and color on paper Accession: 47.18.10 On view in:Gallery 216