Art/ Collection/ Art Object

清 王緣 趙之謙肖像 軸
Portrait of Zhao Zhiqian

Wang Yuan (Chinese, active ca. 1862–1908)
Zhao Zhiqian (Chinese, 1829–1884)
Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
dated 1871
Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper
41 3/4 x 13 1/4 in. (106 x 33.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth, in memory of La Ferne Hatfield Ellsworth, 1986
Accession Number:
Not on view
Zhao Zhiqian, one of the most influential calligraphers and painters of the late Qing period, inscribed his portrait:

If the world praises me, I shall not accept such praise,Of those who try to destroy me, I shall not complain.Only the painter can capture my likeness. Hanging on the wall it will inspire people to call out, "It is Zhao, it is Zhao!" I neither walk nor sit but stand alone, and with a smile say nothing.

(Wen Fong, trans., Between Two Cultures: Late-Nineteenth- and Early-Twentieth-Century Chinese Paintings from the Robert H. Ellsworth Collection in The Metropolitan Museum of Art [New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2001], p. 40)

Brush vitality, not optical fidelity, was the traditional criterion for lifelikeness in Chinese painting, except in portraiture. For this reason portrait painting was traditionally held in low regard in China. The praise that Zhao, a scholar-artist, voices for the lifelikeness of his portrait testifies to the growing respect in the nineteenth century for verisimilitude as a criterion applicable in all the fine arts.
Signature: Shanyin Wang Yuan
Dated Autumn, eighth month of 1871

Artist's seals: 1. Seal of Wang Yuan (square white characters)
2. Fusheng (square red characters)

Inscription by Zhao Zhiqian:
"Some people in this world praise me. I don't accept this praise. Some people slander me. They may have the right. None of them is equal to the man who painted this portrait and hangs it on his wall. Let people say of this portrait which truly resembles me "That is Zhao!" Zhao doesn't walk or sit or speak. He just stands there smiling. Yi Weishu inscribed this in my 43rd. year."

Calligrapher's seals:
Beian (square, red characters)
Zhao Zhiqian (square, white characters)

Marking: Collector's seal: Robert Hatfield Ellsworth
Robert H. Ellsworth , New York (until 1986; donated to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Painting: Selections from the Robert H. Ellsworth Collection," February 2, 1988–September 25, 1988.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Between Two Cultures: A Selection of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Chinese Paintings from the Robert H. Ellsworth Collection," January 30, 2001–August 19, 2001.

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