Chrysanthemums by a rock

Gao Fenghan Chinese

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 210

At the age of fifty-four Gao Fenghan lost the use of his right hand. Painfully retraining himself to write and paint with his left hand, he came to prize the naive awkwardness of his left-handed brushwork. He lived in a Buddhist monastery in Yangzhou for four years, became close friends with several of the so-called Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou, then retired to his hometown in Shandong Province in 1741. Chrysanthemums by a Rock is a dashing performance of Gao's mature years. Although done in his highly expressive left-handed style, his vigorous wet brushwork is a direct outgrowth of the lush exuberant flower paintings of Shitao (1642–1707), who lived in Yangzhou for the last twelve years of his life. Gao's calligraphy is dynamically integrated with his painting. Filling in the leftover space, the robust rhythms of the writing seem a natural companion to the flowers and rock.

Chrysanthemums by a rock, Gao Fenghan (Chinese, 1683–1748), Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper, China

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