Gift of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth, in memory of La Ferne Hatfield Ellsworth, 1986
Not on view
From 1902 to 1909 Chen Hengke studied in Japan, where he witnessed the indigenous culture being rejected in the pursuit of material advantages from the West. He was determined that China would not follow the same course. After his return from Japan, he taught at colleges in Nantong, Changsha, and Beijing, becoming an influential historian of the literati tradition and a leading painter and calligrapher in Beijing.
This work shows the kind of artless simplicity that was at the core of Chen's vision. While he used conventional media and techniques, he avoided overt references to earlier stylistic sources in order to express his own presence. The carefree ease of the scholar looking out from his studio is conveyed simply and directly through Chen's joyful brushwork: the buoyant lines of the pavilion—not one of which is straight—the casual ripples of the water, and the rhythmically repeated pattern of the foliage all communicate a sense of the artist's contentment.
Signature: Shizeng Chen Hengke, painted at Locust Studio Dated 1921
Artist's seal: Shizeng (square, white characters)
Marking: Collectors' seals: Robert Hatfield Ellsworth
Robert H. Ellsworth , New York (until 1986; donated to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Painting: Selections from the Robert H. Ellsworth Collection," February 2, 1988–September 25, 1988.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Between Two Cultures: A Selection of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Chinese Paintings from the Robert H. Ellsworth Collection," January 30, 2001–August 19, 2001.