Playing the Qin and Watching Geese in Flight

Fu Baoshi Chinese

Not on view

Fu Baoshi's growing sense of isolation as the political situation worsened in 1948 is apparent in this painting, which he did in Nanjing in March of that year. The depiction of a scholar strumming a zither at the edge of a desolate flood plain crisscrossed with waterways was inspired by the story of Boya, a legendary zither player whose teacher brought him to the island of the immortals in order to teach him how to play expressively. In Fu's interpretation, the figure of Boya is silhouetted against a marshy expanse, while his servant, huddled against an embankment, appears oblivious to his master's playing. A delicate formation of descending geese, suspended in the moist atmosphere, evokes the fleeting tones of Boya's music. The figure's erect posture may signal Fu's resolve to continue working, even in the face of an uncertain future.

Playing the Qin and Watching Geese in Flight, Fu Baoshi (Chinese, 1904–1965), Hanging scroll; ink and color on bark paper, China

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