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The Scholar Fu Sheng Transmitting the Book of Documents

Du Jin (Chinese, active ca. 1465–1509)

Period:
Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
Date:
15th–mid-16th century
Culture:
China
Medium:
Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
Dimensions:
Image: 57 7/8 x 41 1/8 in. (147 x 104.5 cm) Overall with rollers: 10 ft. 6 in. x 53 in. (320 x 134.6 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Gift of Douglas Dillon, 1991
Accession Number:
1991.117.2
  • Description

    In his greatest act of infamy, the first emperor of Qin (Qin Shihuangdi) ruthlessly burned books and buried scholars alive to eliminate opposition. When the Han dynasty was established in 206 B.C., a program to reconstruct texts began. Fu Sheng retrieved a copy of the Book of Documents that he had hidden and spent the remainder of his days lecturing on it. Here Fu Sheng is shown discoursing on the text with the official Shao Zuo, who was sent by the emperor. Fu Sheng’s daughter, Fu Nu, seated beside him, was a scholar in her own right and aided by translating their local dialect into one familiar to the scribe.

    Du Jin was trained as a scholar but became a professional painter after failing the jinshi civil-service examination. He cultivated a circle of patrons and literati friends—including the artists Tang Yin and Shen Zhou—in Beijing, where he moved, as well as in Nanjing and Suzhou. Through these contacts Du Jin played a significant role in the development of a local professional painting style in Suzhou that was basically a refined version of the high academic style of the imperial court. Although this painting no longer bears a signature, it is a classic example of Du Jin’s polished academic manner.

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