Image: 12 3/8 × 50 9/16 in. (31.4 × 128.4 cm)
Overall with mounting: 15 1/8 in. × 27 ft. 5 1/2 in. (38.4 × 836.9 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Sheila Riddell, in memory of Sir Percival David, 1977
Not on view
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.
Sir Percival David , London (until d. 1964) ; his widow Lady David , later Mrs. Sheila Riddell, London (1964–1977; donated to MMA)
Washington D.C. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. "Chinese Figure Painting," 1973.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Traditional Scholarly Values at the End of the Qing Dynasty: The Collection of Weng Tonghe (1830–1904)," June 30, 1998–January 3, 1999.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The World of Scholars' Rocks: Gardens, Studios, and Paintings," February 1, 2000–August 20, 2000.
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. "Secular and Sacred: Scholars, Deities, and Immortals in Chinese Art," September 10, 2005–January 8, 2006.
Nara National Museum. "Imperial Envoys to Tang China: Early Japanese Encounters with Continental Culture," April 3, 2010–June 20, 2010.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Gardens: Pavilions, Studios, Retreats," August 18, 2012–January 6, 2013.