Scholars of the Liuli Hall

Unidentified artist

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 213

Scholars of the Liuli Hall commemorates a famous gathering hosted by the poet Wang Changling (act. ca. 713-41) at his official residence in Jiangning (modern Nanjing, Jiangsu Province). An earlier, cut-down version of the same composition, entitled simply Literary Gathering (Palace Museum, Beijing), is attributed to Han Huang (723-787). The costumes and the style in which the figures are drawn, however, relate these works to Zhou Wenju, the great Southern Tang (937-75) court painter who used a "tremulous brush line" (zhanbi) to draw drapery.

In the Metropolitan's scroll, Zhou's tenth-century style has been transformed by a thirteenth-century artist. The sensitively drawn faces are late Song in style; while more schematic than Tang (618-907) examples, they are more solidly and three-dimensionally conceived than those of the late Ming (16th-17th century). In describing the figures' robes, Zhou Wenju's "tremulous brush line" has become a virtuoso performance: elegant fluttering lines, at once playful and confident, are well integrated, and the hooks and curves representing creases and pockets show an extravagant realism matched only by the best late Southern Song Academy figure painters.

#7355. Scholars of the Liuli Hall

Scholars of the Liuli Hall, Unidentified artist Chinese, late 13th century, Handscroll; ink and color on silk, China

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