Art/ Collection/ Art Object

清 浸月圖 軸
Plum Blossoms in Moonlight

Artist:
Tong Yu (Chinese, 1721–1782)
Period:
Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Date:
second half of the 18th century
Culture:
China
Medium:
Hanging scroll; ink on paper
Dimensions:
Image: 49 5/8 x 11 3/4 in. (126 x 29.8 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
The Lin Yutang Family Collection, Gift of Hsiang Ju Lin, in memory of Taiyi Lin Lai, 2005
Accession Number:
2005.510.1
Not on view
Since the Song poet Lin Bu (967–1028) first celebrated the blossoming plums of his native Hangzhou (in Zhejiang province), plums have been a special subject for artists from that region. Tong Yu, from nearby Shaoxing, followed the local tradition established by his townsman Wang Mian (1287–1359).

The thrusting limbs of a blossoming plum energize this composition. Typically, neither tree trunk nor ground plane is depicted; instead the artist focuses on the dynamic counterpoint of two sturdy branches that curve in opposite directions. The moon and the flowers stand out in uninked plain paper, left in reserve against the lightly tinted night sky.

Tong Yu was also an accomplished calligrapher. His inscription on this painting, which combines clerical and cursive scripts—his two specialties—plays on the aesthetic of juxtaposing contrasting script types:

Drenched in Moonlight
The ocean of clouds disperses; after the snowfall it begins
to clear.
The myriad valleys, in silent chill, remain frozen and muted.
Only the plum trees in the moonlight on Mount Gu [in
West Lake, Hangzhou]
Branch out at will, unconcerned with the passage of time.

(trans. by Shi-yee Liu)

Lin Yutang purchased this painting in Shanghai prior to his departure for America in 1936.
Inscription: Artist’s inscription and signature (2 characters in large clerical script followed by 2 columns in cursive script)[1]

Drenched in Moonlight

The ocean of clouds disperses; after the snowfall it begins to clear.
The myriad valleys, in silent chill, remain frozen and muted.
Only the plum trees in the moonlight on Mount Gu [in West Lake, Hangzhou]
Branch out at will, unconcerned with the passage of time.

Ershu [Tong Yu]

浸月

海雲飛散雪初晴,萬壑寒寂凍不鳴。
惟有孤山梅共月,不分今古自縱橫。

二樹

Artist’s seals

Tong Yu zhi yin 童鈺之印
Ershu 二樹
Chapi jian shipi meichi yi huachi 荼癖兼詩癖 梅痴亦畫痴 (“Obsessed by tea and poetry, infatuated with plum blossoms and painting”)


[1] Documentation from Shi-yee Liu, Straddling East and West: Lin Yutang, A Modern Literatus: The Lin Yutang Family Collection of Chinese Painting and Calligraphy, New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2007, no. 5, p. 33.
Related Objects

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

Bamboo in Wind and Rain

Artist: Shitao (Zhu Ruoji) (Chinese, 1642–1707) Date: ca. 1694 Medium: Hanging scroll; ink on paper Accession: 1984.475.2 On view in:Gallery 215

Still life with crabs and fish

Artist: Yi Yong-u (artist name: Mungno) (Korean, 1902–1952) Date: probably 1940s Medium: Pair of hanging scrolls; ink and color on paper Accession: 2005.24a, b On view in:Gallery 233

Portrait of the Imperial Bodyguard Zhanyinbao

Date: dated 1760 Medium: Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk Accession: 1986.206 On view in:Gallery 211

White-Robed Guanyin

Date: late 14th century Medium: Hanging scroll; ink on paper Accession: 1982.3.3 On view in:Gallery 213