Poems on painting plum blossoms and bamboo

Zhao Mengjian Chinese

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An accomplished poet, collector, painter, and calligrapher and a member of the Song royal family, Zhao Mengjian was compared by his contemporaries to the famous scholar-connoisseur Mi Fu (1052–1107). Like Mi's, Zhao's writing does not derive from a single source but combines the best of many earlier models: the natural charm of the fourth-century Jin writers, the brush method and character structure of the seventh-century Tang masters, and the free expression of the eleventh-century Northern Song calligraphers.

This scroll, which transcribes Zhao's poems on plum and bamboo painting, is his best-known extant calligraphic work. Written for a young relative who was studying painting, the poems stress acute observation of nature and mastery of brush methods and conventions, as well as the importance of personal expression.

Poems on painting plum blossoms and bamboo, Zhao Mengjian (Chinese, 1199–before 1267), Handscroll; ink on paper, China

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