Gift of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth, in memory of La Ferne Hatfield Ellsworth, 1986
Not on view
Xu Beihong returned to China from Europe in 1927 and headed the art Department of Liangjiang Normal College in Nanjing, later part of the National Central University. Believing that the reform of Chinese painting required the assimilation of Western methods, Xu strongly criticized the slavish imitation of ancient masters and urged artists to "adopt the materials and techniques invented to depict real objects."
Cypress Tree resembles a calligraphic performance in its bravura handling of brush and ink, but the attention to light and shade along the trunk and the layered daubs of ink used to suggest foliage reveal Xu's continued commitment to Western-style realism.
Signature: Beihong Dated early winter 1935
Artist's seal: Beihong (square, white characters)
Marking: Collectors' seals: Robert Hatfield Ellsworth
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.