Landscapes, Figures, and Flowers

Chen Hongshou Chinese

Not on view

This exquisite album, done when Chen Hongshou was between twenty and twenty-four, exhibits a broad range of subject matter and an extraordinarily fastidious brush style that attest to his reputation as a youthful prodigy. Not long after the album was completed, the noted connoisseur and artist Chen Jiru added his critical comments opposite several of the leaves in the album, a further confirmation of Chen Hongshou's recognition among his contemporaries.

In the first leaf, the bleak scene of an untended garden presents a powerful image of the decay infecting late Ming society just twenty–five years before the dynasty was toppled by the Manchus. In his accompanying inscription Chen asks, "Does anybody notice?" In subsequent leaves, Chen's evocations of Li Gonglin's (ca. 1041–1106) monochrome drawing (baimiao) figural style, Ni Zan's (1306–1374) dry trees, Wang Meng's (ca. 1308–1385) cloudlike mountains, and Qian Xuan's (ca. 1235–before 1307) archaic "blue-and-green" landscapes reveal his command of past idioms and his affinity for earlier scholar-recluse artists, while a depiction of the Solitary Elegant Peak in Guilin reveals Chen's early interest in the fantastic landscapes of the eccentric professional artist Wu Bin (ca. 1583–1626).

#7363. Landscapes, Figures, and Flowers

Landscapes, Figures, and Flowers, Chen Hongshou (Chinese, 1598/99–1652), Album of twelve leaves; ink and color on paper, China

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Leaf A