Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Passage from Tao Qian's "Returning Home"

Artist:
Dong Qichang (Chinese, 1555–1636)
Period:
Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
Culture:
China
Medium:
Folding fan mounted as an album leaf; ink on gold paper
Dimensions:
6 7/8 x 19 7/8 in. (17.5 x 50.5 cm)
Classification:
Calligraphy
Credit Line:
Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988
Accession Number:
1989.363.97
Not on view
Court politics caused Dong Qichang to retire from office three times during his government career. This fan conveys Dong's eloquent response to political intrigue. Quoting a passage from the recluse-poet Tao Qian's (365-427) Returning Home, Dong's spacious and graceful calligraphy reflects his ability to rise above worldly affairs:

Then I catch sight of my cottage,
filled with joy I run.
The servant boy comes to welcome me
my little son waits at the door.
The three paths are almost obliterated
but pines and chrysanthemums are still here.
Leading the children by the hand I enter my house
where there is a bottle filled with wine.
I draw the bottle to me and pour myself a cup;
Seeing the trees in the courtyard brings joy to
my face.
I lean on the south window and let my pride expand,
I consider how easy it is to be content with a
little space.
Every day I stroll in the garden for pleasure,
There is a gate there, but it is always shut.

(James Robert Hightower, trans.)
Signature: Signed, undated, one artist's seal.

Inscription:
Then I catch sight of my cottage,
filled with joy I run.
The servant boy comes to welcome me
my little son waits at the door.
The three paths are almost obliterated
but pines and chrysanthemums are still here.
Leading the children by the hand I enter my house
where there is a bottle filled with wine.
I draw the bottle to me and pour myself a cup;
Seeing the trees in the courtyard brings joy to
my face.
I lean on the south window and let my pride expand,
I consider how easy it is to be content with a
little space.
Every day I stroll in the garden for pleasure,
There is a gate there, but it is always shut.

(Trans. James Robert Hightower)

Marking: Collector's seals:
Pan Zhengwei (1791–1636)
John M. Crawford, Jr.
John M. Crawford Jr. , New York (until d. 1988; bequeathed to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Text and Image: The Interaction of Painting, Poetry, and Calligraphy," January 23, 1999–August 16, 1999.

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