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

明/清 陳洪綬 山水人物花卉圖 冊
Landscapes, Figures, and Flowers

Chen Hongshou (Chinese, 1598–1652)
Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
dated 1618–1622
Album of twelve paintings; ink and color on paper
Image: 8 3/4 × 3 5/8 in. (22.2 × 9.2 cm)
Inscription: 8 3/4 × 3 5/8 in. (22.2 × 9.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Friends of Far Eastern Art Gifts, 1985
Accession Number:
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
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Inscription: Artist’s inscription, colophons, and signatures[1]

Leaf A (1 column in standard script, dated 1618)

In the summer of the wuwu year [1618], Hongshou.


Leaf AA (3 columns in semi-cursive script)

Weatherbeaten pines, old trees, broken banana leaves; sparse bamboo, bony rocks, wilting grass—what a sight! Do people know it? Do people know it? Hongshou


Leaf B (1 column in standard script, dated 1619)

In the spring of the jiwei year [1619], Hongshou.


Leaf CC (4 columns in semi-cursive script)

Since I received power from the Buddha, I can create paintings and calligraphies, which I use to help the poor and to satisfy those who love my work. Thus, I enjoy making Buddhist images to requite the Buddha. Yet, how would the Buddha accept any requital! Please put in a good word for me. Hongshou


Leaf D (1 column in standard script, dated 1619)

In the spring of the jiwei year [1619], Hongshou.


Leaf DD (2 columns in semi-cursive script)

Recently I have been doing things like this in my prose writing as well. People know about my pure and noble character, but not the deep and profound side of me. Hongshou


Leaf E (1 column in standard script, dated 1619)

In the autumn of the jiwei year [1619], Hongshou.


Leaf EE (2 columns in semi-cursive script)

In this painting, I have reached the utmost effects of brushwork, style, and thought. As for the wonder of ink, it lies in the lack of ink. Those who understand painting will agree. Zhanghou


Leaf F (1 column in standard script, dated 1620)

In the autumn of the gengshen year [1620], Hongshou.


Leaf G (1 column in standard script, dated 1621)

In the spring of the xinyou year [1621], Hongshou.


Leaf I (2 columns in semi-cursive script, dated 1621)

Brownish yellow colors weigh down autumn’s charm.
The lady furrows her lovely brows.
As if in a blink, to the soldiers at the western frontier
Hundreds of vehicles with their uniforms have passed.
Hongshou, in the summer of the xinyou year [1621].


Leaf JJ (2 columns in semi-cursive script)

It would be delightful just to encounter this scenery, not to mention I have painted it. Hongshou


Leaf K (on painting: 1 column in standard and semi-cursive scripts, dated 1622)

In the summer of the renxu year [1622], Hongshou.


Leaf KK (3 columns in semi-cursive script)

I once followed Li Changheng [Li Liufang, 1575-1629] on an excursion to the mountain peak. Gazing at a jasmine flower, Changheng said: “If I can have Zhanghou [Chen Hongshou] transmit its spirit and let me view [his painting] with respect, it will be such a delight.” Changheng, Changheng, have you ever seen this painting? Hongshou


Leaf L (1 column in standard script, dated 1622)

In the autumn of the renxu year [1622], Hongshou.


Artist's seals

Zhanghou 章侯 [Leaves A, D]
Chen Hongshou yin 陳洪綬印 [Leaves AA, JJ]
Zhanghou shi 章侯氏 [Leaf B]
Chen Hongshou yin 陳洪綬印 [Leaf C]
Zhanghou 章侯 [Leaves CC, DD, KK]
Hongshou siyin 洪綬私印 [Leaf E]
Hongshou Zhanghou shi 洪綬章侯氏 (double seal) [Leaf EE]
Zhanghou shi 章侯氏 [Leaves F, G, H, I, J]
Zhanghou shi 章侯氏 [Leaf K]
Hongshou 洪綬 (double seal) [Leaf L]
Frontispiece on wooden cover
Nagao Kō 長尾甲 (1864–1942), 1 column in standard script, undated:

Inscription on wooden box

Nagao Kō 長尾甲 (1864–1942), 6 columns in standard script, dated 1931; 1 seal:

明季畫風寖流靡弱,骨氣日薄,古法日遠。陳章侯洪綬狷介狂散,不為斗米折腰,抗心希古,所作必規橅唐宋,戞戞孤詣,一筆不墮時人徑畦。當時名宿如倪鴻寳、陳眉公莫不敬重焉。此冊作于萬曆己未[1619]天啟壬戌[1622]間,章侯卅嵗以前,而古氣盎然脫俗乃尓。朱竹垞稱其繪事本天縱,良不諛也。辛未秋分長尾甲識。 [印]: 雨山


Chen Jiru 陳繼儒 (1558–1639)

Leaf BB: 1 column in semi-cursive script, undated; 1 seal:

Not until you have seen Longmian's [Li Gonglin, ca. 1041–1106] Nine Songs will you know Zhanghou's [Chen Hongshou] model. [Seal]: Jiru

見龍眠 《九歌》 始知章侯畫學。 [印]: 繼儒

Leaf FF: 2 columns in semi-cursive script, undated; 2 seals:

This is the Solitary Elegant Peak in Prince Jingjiang’s Palace in Western Yue [Gueilin]. When did it fly here? [Seals]: Meigong, Jiru

西粵靖江藩府中獨秀峰何日飛來到此。 眉公 [印]: 眉公、繼儒

Leaf GG: 4 columns in semi-cursive script, undated; 2 seals:

[It is said that] Zhang Yuanwai [Zhang Zao, active late 8th c.] once held two brushes and used them simultaneously, one for drawing living branches, and the other for dry ones. Their spirit transcends mist and clouds; their momentum recalls that of a storm. This painting by Zhanghou compares closely with it. It employs the method of Tang dynasty masters. [Zhang] Zao said, “Study nature as external discipline; find the source inwardly in your heart.” How true it is! [Seals]: Meigong, Jiru

張員外手握雙管,頓時齊下,一為生枝,一為枯枝,氣傲煙霞,勢轟風雨。章侯此幅類之,皆唐人畫法也。璪云:“外師造化,中得心源。” 信夫。[印]: 眉公、繼儒

Leaf HH: 2 columns in semi-cursive script, undated; 2 seals:

[Here] Zhanghou uses the ideas of Hongguzi [Jing Hao, active ca. 870–ca. 930] as well, not merely those of Huanghe Shanqiao [Wang Meng, ca. 1308–1385]. [Seals]: Meigong, Jiru

章侯同參洪谷子,非從黃鶴山樵入也。 [印]: 眉公、繼儒

Leaf II: 3 columns in semi-cursive script, undated; 2 seals:

Li Longmian did a painting titled Preparing Silk, in which the figures were all plump and naïve-looking, but in this one alone [the woman] appears gaunt. In the bright moonlight, she seems deep in sorrow. How pitiful she looks! [Seals]: Meigong, Jiru

李龍眠有 《㨞帛圖》,皆肥姿憨態,獨此幅肌肉廉削。明月光中,愁心萬種,可憐也。眉公 [印]: 眉公、繼儒

Leaf LL: 5 columns in semi-cursive script, datable to 1622–1623; 1 seal:

Chao Buzhi [1051–1110] said: “[In painting] follow Hou Yu [active 10th c.] for Buddhist figures, follow Wu Daoxuan [Wu Daozi, active ca. 710–60] for clouds and vapors, follow Guan Tong [active 907–23] for celestial guardians, pines, and rocks, follow Guo Zhongshu [d. 977] for grasses and trees, follow Li Cheng [919–967] for reclining boughs and dangling vines, follow Xu Daoning [ca. 970–ca. 1052] for tumbling cliffs and emaciated trees, and follow Yi Yuanji [d. ca. 1064] and Cui Bai [active ca. 1060–85] for flowers, birds, fish, and insects.” Now Zhanghou is just twenty-five sui, but has acquired all those merits. In his previous incarnations, he must have been a painter as well a poet. Meigong [Seals]: Jiru

晁補之云:“菩薩倣侯昱,雲氣倣吳道玄,天王松石倣關仝,草樹倣郭忠恕,臥槎垂藤倣李成,崩崖瘦木倣許道寧,花鳥魚虫倣易元吉、崔白。”今章侯年甫二十五歲,具得其長,前身畫師,宿世詞客也。眉公 [印]: 繼儒

[1] Translations from Department records.
[2] Translations from Department records.
[ Yanagi Takashi , Kyoto, until 1985; sold to MMA]
Lawrence. Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas. "Latter Days of the Law: Images of Chinese Buddhism, 850–1850," August 28, 1994–October 9, 1994.

Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. "Latter Days of the Law: Images of Chinese Buddhism, 850–1850," November 16, 1994–January 11, 1995.

Princeton University Art Museum. "Chinese Flower Paintings," May 2, 1996–June 30, 1996.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Text and Image: The Interaction of Painting, Poetry, and Calligraphy," January 23, 1999–August 16, 1999.

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. "Secular and Sacred: Scholars, Deities, and Immortals in Chinese Art," September 10, 2005–January 8, 2006.