Image: 65 3/8 x 32 1/2 in. (166.1 x 82.6 cm) Overall with mounting: 100 1/2 x 37 1/8 in. (255.3 x 94.3 cm) Overall with knobs: 100 1/2 x 40 1/2 in. (255.3 x 102.9 cm)
Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1985
Not on view
Because it retains its greenery even in the dead of winter, the pine symbolizes endurance and fortitude. For Yuan-dynasty scholars living under the alien rule of the Mongols, depictions of ancient pines became a potent metaphor for survival in the face of political discrimination.
Wu Zhen was an educated man who in more settled times would have followed a career in government service. He chose instead to live in reclusion in the mountains of Zhejiang Province. Calling himself the Plum Blossom Daoist (Meihua Daoren), he made a humble living through the practice of divination.
In his inscription, Wu describes the source of his inspiration for this painting:
In winter, the eleventh lunar month of the third year of the Yuantong reign era [December 1335], while visiting the Cloudy Grotto, I saw a crooked and twisting ancient tree. So I wrote this picture to record what I saw. Meihua Daoren [the Plum Blossom Daoist, Wu Zhen] playing with ink.
Inscription: Artist’s inscription and signature (2 columns in cursive script)
In winter, the eleventh lunar month of the third year of the Yuantong reign era , while visiting the Cloud Grotto, I saw a crooked and twisting ancient pine. Thereupon I brushed this picture to record what I saw. An ink-play by Meihua Daoren [Wu Zhen].
Meihua An 梅花 Jiaxing Wu Zhen Zhonggui shuhua ji 嘉興吳鎮仲圭書畫記
Unidentified artist, 3 columns in Japanese in standard script, undated (at the back of the mounting):
Ancient Pine painted by Wu Zhen Wu Zhen, whose self-adopted names include Zhonggui, Plum-blossom Daoist, Plum Daoist, and Plum Monk, was a native of Jiaxing [in Zhejiang]. He was one of the four masters of the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368). He died in the fourteenth year of the Zhizheng reign era  at the age of 75. A treasure in the collection of Dongguan Shuwu (Gazing Eastward Studio)
 Translation from Wen C. Fong. Beyond Representation: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy 8th–14th Century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992, p. 446. Modified.  Translation from Department records.
[ Yabumoto Kozo , Amagasaki, Japan, until 1985; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The New Chinese Galleries: An Inaugural Installation," 1997.
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. "A Millennium of Chinese Painting: Masterpieces from the Permanent Collection," September 8, 2001–January 13, 2002.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Douglas Dillon Legacy: Chinese Painting for the Metropolitan Museum," March 12, 2004–August 8, 2004.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Brush and Ink: The Chinese Art of Writing," September 2, 2006–January 21, 2007.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Landscapes Clear and Radiant: The Art of Wang Hui (1632–1717)," September 9, 2008–January 4, 2009.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Yuan Revolution: Art and Dynastic Change," August 21, 2010–January 9, 2011.
Shanghai Museum. "Masterpieces of Chinese Tang, Song and Yuan Paintings from America," November 3, 2012–January 3, 2013.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Chinese Painting from the Metropolitan Collection I," October 31, 2015–October 11, 2016.