Tao Yuanming enjoying chrysanthemums

Du Jin Chinese

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 210

Du Jin, the son of an official, was a scholar and a poet, but after low placement in the metropolitan (jinshi) examination he decided to earn his living as a painter instead of pursuing a government career. Specializing in landscape and figural scenes in the Southern Song (1127–1279) academic manner, Du, like his younger contemporary Tang Yin (1470–1524), who befriended the painter in his old age, occupied an ambiguous position between scholar and professional artist.

This painting portrays the poet Tao Qian (365–427) strolling through the mountains to admire the autumn flowers, some of which are held by his servant. Du's depiction combines a meticulous rendering of the figures with a dashing ink-wash treatment of the landscape.
His poem reads:

Along three paths he returned, at leisure with his bramble staff,
The sun moved west over the yellow flowers and wattle fence.
Realizing there was no way to revive the Jin [dynasty, 265–420],
All he could do was become "drunk as mud."

Tao Yuanming enjoying chrysanthemums, Du Jin (Chinese, active ca. 1465–1509), Hanging scrolls; ink and color on paper, China

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