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Stately Pines on Mount Hua

Shi Lu (Chinese, 1919–1982)

Date:
ca. 1972
Culture:
China
Medium:
Hanging scroll; ink on paper
Dimensions:
53 3/4 x 27 3/8 in. (136.6 x 69.5 cm)
Classification:
Paintings
Credit Line:
Gift of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth, in memory of La Ferne Hatfield Ellsworth, 1986
Accession Number:
1986.267.351
  • Description

    Having openly criticized the Gang of Four in 1969, Shi Lu took refuge in the wilderness near Xi'an. After a year he sought asylum in the hospital where he had been treated earlier for schizophrenia and alcoholism.
    In the early 1970s his compositions were distilled to a new clarity. His highly individual technique of pushing the brush like a carver's tool became more expressive. He repeatedly found inspiration in China's sacred western peak Mount Hua, whose name is synonymous with the enduring character of both the landscape and the nation. The theme of Shi Lu's poem is noble spirits persevering in the face of adversity:
    I love the many pines on Mount Hua,
    Tall, noble, and dignified,
    Their trunks climbing skyward to compete with the sun
    and moon.
    Weathering the bitter winds,
    Shaking their branches, they reach for the border of heaven.
    Bestride blue dragons, they hold their heads aloft.
    Lifting the clouds they stand.
    Ceaselessly they push against the sky.
    (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], pp. 234-37)

  • See also
    Who
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    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
42105:2

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