After the fall of Hangzhou, the Southern Song capital, in 1276, the artist Qian Xuan chose to live as an yimin, a “leftover subject” of the dynasty. Painted in his deliberately primitive “blue-and-green” style, this handscroll illustrates the story of Wang Xizhi ( 303 – 361), the calligraphy master of legendary fame and a practitioner of Daoist alchemy, who was said to derive inspiration from natural forms such as the graceful neck movements of geese. In creating a dreamlike evocation of antiquity, the artist prevented a realistic reading of his picture space as a way of asserting the disjuncture he felt after the fall of the Song royal house.
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元 錢選 王羲之觀鵝圖 卷
Title:Wang Xizhi watching geese
Artist:Qian Xuan (Chinese, 1239–1301)
Period:Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)
Medium:Handscroll; ink, color, and gold on paper
Dimensions:Image: 9 1/8 x 36 1/2 in. (23.2 x 92.7 cm) Overall with mounting: 11 x 418 13/16 in. (27.9 x 1063.8 cm)
Credit Line:Ex coll.: C. C. Wang Family, Gift of The Dillon Fund, 1973
Inscription: Artist’s inscription and signature (4 columns in semi-cursive script)
How pleasant are the elegant bamboo and trees! In a peaceful pavilion, relaxing with bare stomach, how wonderful it must feel! Writing the Daode Jing for a Daoist friend, He leaves behind a romantic image – a man who loves geese. Qian Xuan, Shunju, from Wuxing [Zhejiang]
Wang Jiqian 王季遷 (C. C. Wang, 1907–2003) Jiqian jianding 季遷鑑定 Zhenze Wang shi Baowu Tang tushu ji 震澤王氏寳武堂圖書記 Zhenze Wang shi Jiqian shoucang yin 震澤王氏季遷收藏印 Wang Jiqian yin 王季遷印 Wang shi Jiqian zhencang zhi yin 王氏季遷珍藏之印 Huaiyun Lou jianshang shuhua zhi ji 懷雲樓鑑賞書畫之記 Jiqian xinshang 季遷心賞
Unidentified Zhonggui shuhua yin 重貴書畫印 Xu Youyun zi 徐幼雲子 Xinyu tushu 新宇圖書 Bangu Xuan [half seal] 半古軒[半印]
 Translation from Wen C. Fong, Beyond Representation: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy 8th–14th Century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992, p. 319. The romanization is changed from the Wade-Giles system to pinyin.
C. C. Wang Family New York (by 1949–1973: sold to MMA)
Cleveland Museum of Art. "Chinese Art Under the Mongols," October 1, 1968–November 4, 1968.
New York. Asia House Gallery. "Chinese Art Under the Mongols," January 9, 1969–February 2, 1969.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Song and Yuan Paintings: Exhibition of Newly Acquired Chinese Paintings," November 1, 1973–January 20, 1974.
London. British Museum. "Song and Yuan Paintings," November 7, 1975–January 4, 1976.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Peach Blossom Spring," November 21, 1983–June 3, 1984.
New York. China House Gallery. "Kernels of Energy, Bones of Earth," October 23, 1985–January 29, 1986.
Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art. "Landscape Painting in the East and West," April 17, 1986–June 1, 1986.
Kobe City Museum. "Landscape Painting in the East and West," June 7, 1986–July 13, 1986.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Artist as Collector: Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from the C.C.Wang Family Collection," September 2, 1999–January 9, 2000.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The World of Scholars' Rocks: Gardens, Studios, and Paintings," February 1–August 20, 2000.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Douglas Dillon Legacy: Chinese Painting for the Metropolitan Museum," March 12–August 8, 2004.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Anatomy of a Masterpiece: How to Read Chinese Paintings," March 1–August 10, 2008.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The World of Khubilai Khan: Chinese Art in the Yuan Dynasty," September 28, 2010–January 2, 2011.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Gardens: Pavilions, Studios, Retreats," August 18, 2012–January 6, 2013.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from the Metropolitan Collection (Rotation Two)," May 7–October 11, 2016.
Zhang Zhao 張照 et al. Midian zhulin shiqu baoji 祕殿珠林石渠寶笈 (Catalogue of painting and calligraphy in the Qianlong imperial collection). Preface dated 1745. Facsimile reprint of an original manuscript copy. vol. 2, Taipei: National Palace Museum, 1971, pp. 1173–74.
Fong, Wen C., and Marilyn Fu. Sung and Yuan Paintings. Exh. cat. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1973, pp. 86–88, 98–99, 144–45, cat. no. 13.
Sullivan, Michael. The Arts of China. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1973, p. 182, pl. 155.
James Cahill. Hills Beyond a River: Chinese Painting of the Yuan Dynasty (1279–1368) New York: Weatherhill, 1976, p. 35, pl. 1.
Sullivan, Michael. The Arts of China. Revised ed., Berkeley: University of California Press, 1977, p. 197, fig. 207.
Murck, Alfreda, and Wen C. Fong. A Chinese Garden Court: The Astor Court at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1980, p. 43, fig. 35.
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, p. 4–5, 420, cat. no. A1-012.
Barnhart, Richard M. Along the Border of Heaven: Sung and Yüan Paintings from the C. C. Wang Family Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1983, pp. 108–10, fig. 47.
Howard, Kathleen, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1983, p. 260, fig. 45.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Asia. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1987, pp. 78–79, pl. 45.
Fong, Wen C. Beyond Representation: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy, 8th–14th Century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992, pp. 316–20, pls. 71, 71a.
Howard, Kathleen, ed. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. 2nd ed., New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994, p. 112, fig. 45.
Yang Zhenguo 杨振国. Haiwai cang Zhongguo lidai ming hua: Liao, Jin, Xixia, Yuan 海外藏中国历代名画: 辽, 金, 西夏, 元 (Famous paintings of successive periods in overseas collections) Edited by Lin Shuzhong 林树中. vol. 4, Changsha: Hunan meishu chubanshe, 1998, pp. 94–95, pl. 53.
Dunne, Claire. Carl Jung: Wounded Healer of the Soul: An Illustrated Biography. New York: Parabola Books, 2000, p. 213.
Chen Chuanxi 陈传席. Zhongguo shanshui hua shi 中国山水画史 (The history of Chinese landscape painting) Tianjin: Tianjin renmin meishu chubanshe, 2001, p. 258, fig. 113.
Mair, Victor H., Nancy Shatzman Steinhardt, and Paul Goldin, eds. Hawai'i Reader In Traditional Chinese Culture. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2005, pp. 422–23, fig. 92.
Hearn, Maxwell K. How to Read Chinese Paintings. Exh. cat. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2008, pp. 74–77 (also back cover), cat. no. 16.
Ouyang Zhongshi et al. Chinese Calligraphy. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008, p. 26, fig. 35.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012, pp. 96–97.
He Muwen 何慕文 (Hearn, Maxwell K.). Ruhe du Zhongguo hua: Daduhui Yishu Bowuguan cang Zhongguo shuhua jingpin daolan 如何读中国画 : 大都会艺术博物馆藏中国书画精品导览 (How to read Chinese paintings) Translated by Shi Jing 石静. Beijing: Beijing daxue chubanshe, 2015, pp. 74–77 (also back cover), cat. no. 16.
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