Scholar-recluse in blue-green landscape

Chen Hongshou Chinese

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 210

Between the ages of ten and twenty, Chen Hongshou studied painting in Hangzhou with the professional artist Lan Ying (1585–1664), with whom he must have trained by copying Song and Song-style pictures in the local Zhejiang tradition. In his mature years, however, Chen played on the mannerisms and formal distortions of contemporary Song imitations, turning the debased features of this worn-out tradition into elements of a new archaism infused with a highly personal sense of ironic melancholy.

In this monumental landscape Chen alludes to the antique blue-and-green style in his use of flat planes of color, patterned foliage, and boldly contoured trees and rocks. Yet the exaggerated landscape forms and stylized banks of mist accentuate the unreality of the archaic conventions, emphasizing the isolation of the sensitively drawn gentleman and his attendant, whose presence gives the scene a troubling psychological edge.

Scholar-recluse in blue-green landscape, Chen Hongshou (Chinese, 1598/99–1652), Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk, China

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