Dragon Boat Regatta on Jinming Lake

After Wang Zhenpeng Chinese

Not on view

Dragon boat races are traditionally held on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month to commemorate the death of the virtuous minister Qu Yuan (343–277 B.C.), who drowned himself to refute slander. Depicted here is a race sponsored by Emperor Huizong (r. 1101–25) on the third day of the third month, on Jinming ("Golden Bright") Lake, which was located in an imperial park at the Northern Song capital of Kaifeng.

The picture is a remarkable example of jiehua, or "ruled-line," painting, the intricate style of depicting architecture perfected by Wang Zhenpeng. According to the inscription, Wang executed this painting in 1323 for the Grand Elder Princess Sennge (ca. 1283–1331), the older sister of Emperor Renzong (r. 1312–20), after a similar composition he had painted for Renzong in 1310.

A powerful figure in the Mongol court, Princess Sennge was one of the foremost art collectors of the age, and her seals appear on many early paintings and calligraphies. Two of her seals are impressed on the Metropolitan scroll: one in the upper-right corner of the painting, the other following Wang's inscription. The weak carving of the legends and the harsh color of the seal paste, however, suggest
that both seals are forgeries. The stiffness of Wang's clerical-script inscription also marks it as a copy. The subject was immensely popular—at least five other versions of this composition exist. The Metropolitan's painting appears to be a later fourteenth-century copy of Wang's famous composition.

Dragon Boat Regatta on Jinming Lake, After Wang Zhenpeng (Chinese, active ca. 1275–1330), Handscroll; ink on silk, China

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