Recluse playing the zither in a pine grove

Wen Zhengming Chinese

Not on view

Wen Zhengming was the most influential Suzhou painter of the sixteenth century. He created his own immortality with his dogged determination to excel, his dozens of students, and an unusually long life of prodigious artistic production. In Playing the Qin in the Shade of the Pines, one of Wen's largest works, the freely executed boulders and impressionistically rendered trees coalesce into powerful interlocking forms when viewed, as intended, from across a spacious hall. The scroll is roughly contemporaneous with Wen's equally large calligraphic scrolls of the late 1520s, which were commissioned by the Jiajing emperor (r. 1522–66).

Playing the seven-string zither (qin), a versatile instrument able to suggest nature's sounds, is associated with the solitary self-cultivation and reclusive existence of the scholar. A seventeenth-century qin is on display in the Ming Room of the Astor Court.

Recluse playing the zither in a pine grove, Wen Zhengming (Chinese, 1470–1559), Hanging scroll; ink on paper, China

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.