Image: 12 5/16 x 37 7/8 in. (31.3 x 96.2 cm) Overall with mounting: 12 5/8 x 34 ft. 9 1/8 in. (32.1 x 1059.5 cm)
Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1977
Not on view
Qian Xuan was one of the first scholar-painters to unite poetry, painting, and calligraphy within a single work. In Pear Blossoms a perfect interplay of poetic and pictorial imagery has been achieved. The artist's poem may be translated as follows:
All alone by the veranda railing, teardrops drenching the branches, Although her face is unadorned, her old charms remain; Behind the locked gate, on a rainy night, how she is filled with sadness. How differently she looked bathed in golden waves of moonlight, before the darkness fell.
Unlike Emperor Huizong's (r. 1101–25) Finches and Bamboo, which demonstrates a commitment to an accurate rendering of nature, Qian Xuan's flowering branch and the fading beauty it represents are expressions of the artist's personal feelings. Rather than rendering an objective description of the physical beauty of pear blossoms, Qian drew in a fine calligraphic line and used flat schematic patterns in elegant pale colors to create a mood of cool detachment, reflective of his state of mind. The tender lyricism of the poem is also fully present in his calligraphy, in which the brushstrokes echo the languidly twisting movement of the pear leaves.
Inscription: Artist’s inscription and signature (4 columns in semi-cursive/standard script)
The lonely tear-stained face, teardrops drenching the branches, Though washed of makeup, her old charms remain. Behind the closed gate, on a rainy night, how she is filled with sadness. How differently she looked bathed in golden waves of moonlight, before darkness fell .
Old Man on the Zha Stream, Qian Xuan, Shunju
寂寞闌干淚滿枝， 洗粧猶帶舊風姿。 閉門夜雨空愁思， 不似金波欲暗時。
錢氏 舜舉印章 舜舉 錢選之印 霅谿翁錢選舜舉畫印
Other inscription on the painting
Xiang Yuanbian 項元汴 (1525–1590), 1 column in standard script, undated:
Yi 貽 (inventory character)
Outer label strip
Pan Zhengwei 潘正煒 (1791–1850), 1 column in clerical script, undated; 1 seal:
Inner label strip
Yongxing 永瑆 (1752–1823) [11th son of Emperor Qianlong], 2 columns in standard script, undated; 1 seal:
Qian Shunju’s [Qian Xuan] Pear Blossoms with eighteen poetic colophons by people of the Yuan and Ming periods. Yijin Zhai [seal]: Yijin Zhai
錢舜舉梨花 元明人詩題計十八則。詒晉齋 [印]：詒晉齋
1. Ma Zhuan 馬顓 (active late 14th c.), 5 columns in semi-cursive/standard script, undated; 3 seals: