Image: 42 x 10 3/4 in. (106.7 x 27.3 cm) Overall with mounting: 107 1/4 x 19 in. (272.4 x 48.3 cm) Overall with knobs: 107 1/4 x 22 1/2 in. (272.4 x 57.2 cm)
Edward Elliott Family Collection, Gift of Douglas Dillon, 1986
Not on view
Lu Zhi presented Planting Chrysanthemums to his friend Tao in exchange for rare cuttings. To express his ideal of reclusion, Lu combined poetry with painting:
I hear you have opened up a “Tao path” near the ocean, Where clouds of leaves and frost-covered flowers vie in wondrous splendor. I too have built a new residence at Zhixing Mountain, May I share some of your autumn colors on my eastern hedge?
The first two lines of Lu’s verse allude to “Peach Blossom Spring,” a famous poem by his friend’s namesake Tao Qian (365–427) in which a fisherman stumbles upon a hidden Utopia. In the last two lines, Lu suggests that he has planned his own Utopian retreat and refers to the growing of chrysanthemums, a passion he shared with Tao Qian.
Lu was the son of a Suzhou schoolteacher and a pupil of Wen Zhengming (1470–1559). After his father’s death, Lu supported his family by selling his paintings. About 1557 he retired to the mountains west of Suzhou, where he led a reclusive life cultivating rare flowers, poetry, and painting. Awash in mist and soft colors, the crystalline mountains in Lu’s painting perfectly evoke the dreamlike Peach Blossom Land of the immortals.