Zhou Wenjing (Chinese, active ca. 1430–after 1463)
Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
Image: 35 15/16 x 16 1/2 in. (91.3 x 41.9 cm)
Overall with mounting: 79 1/2 x 21 5/16 in. (201.9 x 54.1 cm)
Overall with knobs: 79 1/2 x 23 1/8 in. (201.9 x 58.7 cm)
Edward Elliott Family Collection, Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1981
Not on view
Zhou Wenjing served as a court painter in the Beijing imperial palace. His artistic abilities became known when he was summoned to court as a soothsayer and won first prize in a painting competition sponsored by the Xuande emperor (r. 1426–35). Zhou was still active as a court painter in 1463.
This small hanging scroll elucidates Ming accounts describing how Zhou Wenjing followed the styles of both the Southern Song Academy master Xia Gui (act. ca. 1190–1225) and the Yuan scholar-painter Wu Zhen (1280–1354). The painting's large proportion of empty space, the intimate focus, and the use of mineral colors on silk recall the highly selective "one-corner" landscapes of the Song Academy. Zhou's intentionally naive rendering of figures and calligraphic treatment of foreground grasses and foliage patterning, however, are derived from scholar paintings of the late Yuan. This painting probably decorated a small panel or screen in the living quarters of the palace.
Signature: Inscribed by the artist: "Painted by Sanshan Zhou while serving in the Renzhi Palace"