Jin Nong started painting plum blossoms in 1756 at the age of sixty-nine. This monochrome album was reportedly painted during a six-week stay at Luo Ping's home in Yangzhou in 1757.
Jin Nong's innovative plum paintings are poised between representation and abstraction. The images range from the exuberance of lacy blossom-laden boughs to the restrained elegance of a single budding branch. There is a graphic quality to Jin Nong's compositions, achieved through a tight interlocking of painted image, calligraphy, and seals. His poetic inscriptions, written in his typically exact, vigorous manner, not only deepen the meaning of his imagery, but also act as graphic motifs that further animate each composition.
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清 金農 墨梅圖 冊
Artist:Jin Nong (Chinese, 1687–1773)
Period:Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Medium:Album of twelve leaves; ink on paper
Dimensions:Image: 10 x 11 3/4 in. (25.4 x 29.8 cm)
Credit Line:Edward Elliott Family Collection, Gift of Douglas Dillon, 1986
Inscription: Artist’s inscriptions and signatures
Leaf A (2 columns in standard script, dated 1757):
Painted on Chongyang Festival in the ninth month of the dingchou year of the Qianlong reign era .
Leaf B (14 columns in standard script, dated 1757):
Monk Huihong Juefan (1071–1128) of the Shimen Monastery (in Yunxi, Jiangxi Province) painted plums. My reclusive friend Ding Jingshen [Ding Jing, 1695–1765] has a hanging scroll by him. Crowded with flowers and dense with branches, it is both unique and exceptional. Wang Mian (1287–1359) from Yuecheng [Kuaiji, Zhejiang] followed in his footsteps. I am only following his ideas, not imitating his forms. Several centuries later, [painters] like Wang Yan, Xin Gong, and Chen Xianzhang (active 15th c.) followed in Wang Mian’s footsteps. Jiliu Shanmin [Jin Nong] painted and inscribed on the seventh day of the tenth month of the dingchou year [November 18, 1757] at the abode of Luo Ping, my poetry student from Guangling [Yangzhou].
The older the plum tree, the more energetic it becomes; A man appears by the river inn and at the mountain tower. The tree reaches its full purity when cold permeates every branch; One begins to realize its previous incarnation is the bright moon.
Painting, poetry, and calligraphy by Qujiang Waishi [Jin Nong] on the tenth day of the tenth month.
老梅愈老愈精神， 水店山樓若有人。 清到十分寒滿把， 始知明月是前身。
Leaf D (15 columns in standard script):
Sparrows chirp; The fragrance was brought to my home on a sudden. A branch is shining on my eyes; Is it the snow or the plum?
Xiye Jushi [Jin Nong] painted and composed a new ci poem by lamplight on the tenth day of the tenth month.
Leaf E (3 columns in standard script):
Family from the Shuiyue (Water Moon) Village.
Qujiang Waishi sketched on the fourteenth day
Leaf F (1 column in standard script):
Sufaluo ji sufaluo (suvarna) painted on the fifteenth day of the tenth month.
Leaf G (2 columns in standard script):
A snow-white plum tree is superior to jade; When wind stops, I stand by it enjoying counting flowers.
Qujiang Waishi painted and inscribed on the twenty-seventh day.
Leaf H (3 columns in standard script):
In my hometown, there were a dozen of plum trees by a disserted pavilion at the foot of the Gushan Hill. The trees were in different shapes and it was said that they were planted by the immortal Bu (Lin Bu, 967–1028). Whenever plum blossomed, I always enjoyed looking at them and composed poems on the site. Now while living in Yangzhou, I recall the scenes of years ago and casually painted them again. I believe they still keep their archaic style. ujiang Waishi painted and inscribed.
Plum flowers are spreading downward by the traveler’s inn; They moor the grief and sorrow of parting when friends leave. Recently when all my old friends are leaving me, To whom can I pick up a plum to send?
Painting, poetry and calligraphy by Jiliushanmin.
驛路梅花影倒垂， 離情别緒繫相思。 故人近日全疎我， 折一枝兒寄與誰？
Leaf J (3 columns in standard script):
A monk from the mountain send me rice; He asked me for a playful ink painting. I painted a few very thin plum flowers; Their fragrance spread over the painting and into my nose. It grows by a pine tree till it becomes clear and pure; Then, I shall happily invite a few friends by the river To fetch water from a spring to match each other’s tea.
Qujiang Waishi painted and composed a new ci poem.
Music plays aloud from parties of my neighbors on the east; Traffic noise goes on day and night around streets on the west. Only this old man loves to have a nap after the noon; He doesn’t want to open the door after plums blossom.
Painting, poetry, and calligraphy by Jiliushanmin.
東鄰满坐管弦鬧， 西舍終朝車馬喧。 只有老夫貪午睡， 梅花開候不開門。
Leaf L (22 columns in standard script):
A letter from a Sichuan monk came yesterday; He asked about the plum flowers, then about the crane. Wild plum tree and skinny crane both are fine; Only this old man’s back and legs are sick. Because of that I have to often close the door; Once closed, it feels like living in a village on Mt. Luofu. When painting plums at moonlight, the crane is nearby; When the crane dances, it purifies my soul. It is common for me to paint plums in exchange of rice; How can I expect the social elite to give me free food? I am often hungry and the crane is starving; Carrying the crane and holding the plums I fall asleep.
Monk Lou of the Jingneng Monastery on Mt. Emei sent his pupil Adun here with a letter asking about me. I wrote a poem in response. The next month I painted this small painting and added the poem to it. Xiye Jushi inscribed.
Jin Jijin yin 金吉金印 (Leaf A, H, I) Shou men 壽、門 (Leaf B, E, F, G) Dongxin xiansheng 冬心先生 (Leaves, C, D, L) Nong 農 (Leaf D) Guquan 古泉 (Leaf K)
He Weipu 何維樸 (1842–1922 or 1844–1925), 1 column in clerical script and 2 columns in semi-cursive script, undated (on brocaded album cover):
Paintings of plums by Mr. Jin Dongxin [Jin Nong], twelve leaves, in the collection of Yun’an [Xu Yingkui, d. 1903]. Inscribed by Shisun [He Weipu].
Wu Yun 吳雲 (1811–1883) 二百蘭亭齋所藏書畫印 (Leaf G)
Yang Shiqi 楊士琦 (1862–1918) 杏城珍玩 (Leaf A, B, D, F, G, I, J, K, L)
Zhu Shaozhou 祝紹周 (1893–1976) 祝氏芾南收藏記 (Leaf A, B, C, D, F, G, I, J, K, L)
Zhang Boju 張伯駒 (1897–1982) 伯駒心賞 (Leaf A) 叢碧 (Leaf L) 張伯駒 (Leaf L)
Unidentified 歙南曹氏過雲樓鑒藏 (Leaf A, F)
 Translations are from Department records 丁敬身，即丁敬（1695–1765）。
Edward Elliott Family Collection , (by 1986, to Dillon); Douglas Dillon American, New York (until 1986; donated to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Peach Blossom Spring," November 21, 1983–June 3, 1984.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Text and Image: The Interaction of Painting, Poetry, and Calligraphy," January 23–August 16, 1999.
New York. China Institute in America. "A Modern Literati's Life," February 12, 1999–June 20, 1999.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Cultivated Landscapes: Reflections of Nature in Chinese Painting with Selections from the Collection of Marie-Hélène and Guy Weill," September 10, 2002–February 9, 2003.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Eccentric Visions: The Worlds of Luo Ping (1733–1799)," October 6, 2009–January 10, 2010.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Noble Virtues: Nature as Symbol in Chinese Art," September 10, 2022–January 29, 2023.
Suzuki Kei 鈴木敬, ed. Chûgoku kaiga sogo zuroku: Daiikan, Amerika-Kanada Hen 中國繪畫總合圖錄: 第一卷 アメリカ - カナダ 編 (Comprehensive illustrated catalog of Chinese paintings: vol. 1 American and Canadian collections) Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1982, pp. 139–40, cat. no. A17–070.
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