Old Man Boating on a River
Zha Shibiao Chinese
Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
Not on view
Zha Shibiao was born in Xiuning, Anhui Province, but spent the latter part of his career in the prosperous commercial center of Yangzhou. Like many Anhui artists, Zha favored the Yuan recluse painter Ni Zan (1306-1374) as his artistic model. However, Zha, unlike his fellow townsman Hongren (1610-1664), often chose to disregard Ni's dry and sparse style. This large painting is typical of the wet, uninhibited "ink play" of Zha's mature years. The poem Zha transcribed suggests that he had a specific style in mind for this painting. The poem was composed by the noted scholar-artist Mi Fu (1052-1107). Zha's rendition follows the calligraphic style of the original manuscript so closely that he must have seen either it or a close copy. Inspired by the poem's imagery, Zha also adopted the large, horizontal "Mi texture dots" for his pictorial interpretation. The poem describes the scenery of the Xiao and Xiang region of Hunan Province:
In Shabu everything is harmonious,
In Songmen rafts are covered.
Carefree, I casually row my boat,
As if traveling in a picture of the Shanxi River.