Gift of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth, in memory of La Ferne Hatfield Ellsworth, 1986
Not on view
Wu Changshuo created a distinctive style that fused the classical epigraphic approach to painting with the popular style of Ren Yi (1840–1895) and continued the literati ideal of uniting poetry, calligraphy, and painting in a single work of art.
Wu's image of a scholar seated beside a qin (zither) savoring freshly brewed tea celebrates the timeless literati ideals of refinement, withdrawal, and self-cultivation. Wu chose a traditional subject and blunt calligraphic brushwork when many artists were turning to the West for subject matter and style, reflecting his belief in the Chinese tradition as an enduring resource for the modern artist. Wu's poem reads:
Watching the bubbling spring water, Sitting beside the stony edge of the lake, Old pines resemble ancient sages, A qin lies by a man from the past.
(Wen Fong, trans., Between Two Cultures: Late-Nineteenth- and Early-Twentieth-Century Chinese Paintings from the Robert H. Ellsworth Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art [New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001], p. 71)
Signature: Wu Changshuo Dated 5th month of 1918
Artist's seals: 1. Seal of Wuzun (square, white characters) 2. Wu Changshuo (square, red characters) 3. Whiteness of a fox (square, red characters)
Artist's inscription; poem, four lines, six-character meter: Boiling the water from the Xieyan and Youyen streams, Sitting in meditation at Huchun and Shichun; The old pine signifies long life. A man out of the past is playing the qin.
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. "Text and Image: The Interaction of Painting, Poetry, and Calligraphy," January 23, 1999–August 16, 1999.
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.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Millennium of Chinese Painting: Masterpieces from the Permanent Collection," September 8, 2001–January 13, 2002.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Painting, Masterpieces from the Permanent Collection," August 28, 2004–February 20, 2005.