Drunken Old Farmer
Feng Zikai Chinese
Not on view
Feng Zikai's intellectual development was fostered under the tutelage of the influential Buddhist scholar and painter Li Shutong (Hongyi, 1880–1942). Feng later studied in Japan, learning Western drawing and music and discovering the Japanese cartoon tradition. When he returned to China, he answered the call for an art responsive to the needs of an broadly defined national culture with moving, humane depictions of common people in real situations, using a cartoonlike style based on woodblock illustration. This image, which derives from a woodblock print by Feng dated 1940, was painted after 1948, as indicated to by an artist's seal that states, "Done after attaining the age of fifty." The simple linear drawing, enlivened with color, illustrates lines from a poem describing an old man leaving a country tavern:
An old drunken farmer staggers as if dancing,
Supported by two children who help him back to the boat.
(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], p. 133)