明 恭候大駕還自南郊詩 軸 Awaiting the Emperor's Return from the Southern Suburbs
Wen Zhengming (Chinese, 1470–1559)
Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
Hanging scroll; ink on paper
Overall: 136 x 39 1/4 in. (345.4 x 99.7 cm) Overall with rollers: 40 3/4 in. (103.5 cm)
Anonymous Gift, 1950
Not on view
From 1523 to 1527 Wen Zhengming served as an official in the capital, where his talents—as well as his patience—were put to the test by a flood of requests for literary compositions and calligraphy. This poem, written in celebration of the Jiaqing emperor's (r. 1522–66) return journey to his palace, is lavish in praise and formal in tone; the calligraphy is in the grand manner of Yan Zhenqing (709–785) and Huang Tingjian (1045–1105):
The bell on the Imperial Lord's returning chariot calms the singingof myriad larks; Purplish clouds, gathering above, shelter the powerful essence. Chariots and armor glitter like brilliant constellations. On banners preceding the emperor's chariot, sun and moon shine brightly. For ten miles the spring wind heralds the approach of the imperial procession. All quarters are in harmony with the music of sage emperors. In my old age I have the chance to view personally the glory of this imperial procession; And wish to take the "Ssu wen" ode [in the Book of Poetry] as my example in praise of this peaceful reign.
(Shih Shou-chien, trans., in "Calligraphy as Gift: Wen Cheng-ming's (1470–1559) Calligraphy and the Formation of the Soochow Literati Culture," in Cary Y. Liu et al., eds., Character and Context in Chinese Calligraphy [Princeton: The Art Museum, Princeton University, 1999], p. 258)
Private Collection , New York (until 1950; donated to MMA)
Ann Arbor. University of Michigan Museum of Art. "The Art of Wen Zhengming, 1470–1559," January 25, 1976–February 29, 1976.
New York. Asia House Gallery. "The Art of Wen Zhengming, 1470–1559," April 7, 1976–June 7, 1976.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Brush and Ink: The Chinese Art of Writing," September 2, 2006–January 21, 2007.