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Figures, Flowers and Landscapes

Leaves a–d painted by Chen Hongshou (Chinese, 1599–1652)

Artist:
Leaves e–k painted by Chen Zi (Chinese, 1634–1711)
Period:
late Ming dynasty (1368–1644)–early Qing (1644–1911) dynasty
Date:
17th–18th century, one leaf dated 1627
Culture:
China
Medium:
Album of eleven paintings; ink and color on silk
Dimensions:
Image: 8 3/4 x 8 9/16 in. (22.2 x 21.7 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Wan-go H. C. Weng, 1999
Accession Number:
1999.521a–k
  • Description

    This album contains a rare self-portrait that reflects Chen Hongshou's mood after enduring a number of personal tragedies. Four years earlier, in 1623, Chen's first wife died and he failed the provincial examinations; he would try and fail again in 1638. Depicting himself
    in the conventional guise of the dejected scholar who seeks solace in drink, Chen makes no mention of these misfortunes in his accompanying inscription; instead, he writes of the thousands of miles of territory recently lost to Manchu encroachments in the northeast and of his fears that roving outlaw bands might steal his crops. But there is still time to get drunk, he writes, and he invites his friend Ping, to whom the painting is dedicated, to join him. In addition to the four leaves by Chen Hongshou, the album includes seven leaves by his son Chen Zi.

    In both painting and calligraphy, Chen Zi followed his father's style. In painting, however, the son transformed the older Chen's subtly varied brush mannerisms into hardened conventions. Nevertheless, the exaggerated features of Chen Zi's flowers and figures and their muted colors impart a sense of hoary antiquity.

  • See also
    Who
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
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