Xiao Yi Obtaining the Lanting Manuscript from the Monk Biancai
In the Style of Zhao Mengfu (Chinese, 1254–1322)
Ming (1368–1644) or Qing (1644–1911) dynasty
Handscroll; ink and color on silk
10 5/8 × 34 1/2 in. (27 × 87.6 cm)
Gift of Lewis Cass Ledyard, 1923
Not on view
Inscription: Colophons (mounted after the painting on a separate, single paper): A. Wu Yüqing (early Ming): "Long ago Zhao Wenmin (Mengfu) sent north to the capital and got Duguzhanglao's [a monk from Tiantai, Zhegiang] stone-rubbing of the 'Lanting (Preface)'. Looking at it is like seeing [the real] 'Lanting'. Most versions are not as wonderful as this. Since he was well versed in calligraphy, he knew it at a glance. Now this scroll also has a painting added after it by Wenmin. The strange color [of the rubbing] indicates that the ancient way of making a rubbing was not the same as the present-day method of reproduction. Therefore, let it be treasured forever. The Fengzhengdaifu, xiuzheng gongyi tongzheng zhengshisi, yutai pu zhizhi gao, Wu Yüqing of Yihuang."
B. Zhang Yüqu (1361–1410) [the 43rd Taoist patriarch on Longhushan in Giangsi]: "Yuzhun (Wang Xizhi's) 'Lanting Preface' is the greatest masterpiece of running script. Thus, in the Zhenguan era (627–49), the covetous Xiao I stole it. Afterwards, those who admired and appreciated it had [to rely on] substitutes. Various cuttings of the Dingwu and Meihua version which have been passed down to our generation are already scarce. Those of fine quality have been known and treasured for generations and generations, so how could it be an easy matter to obtain one? The brushwork of this version is muscular, harmonious and pure. The fact that Wenmin made a painting for it shows he believed it worthy of treasuring as a (family) heirloom. Inscribed on the last day of the first month of autumn of the 6th year of the Yongle era (1408) by Zhang Yüqu, the Houxüesi Tianshi".
Marking: Seals: (Possibly good): Ningxiangguan (may belong to Nirenji (17th century) Yenji (Wu Yüqing, early Ming dynasty) Zhang Yüqu yin (Zhang Yüqu, 1361–1410)
Forged seals of the following: Northern Song Palace Zhao Mengfu (1254–1322) Ming Yongle Emperor (r. 1402–24) Ming Xuande Emperor (r. 1425–35) Xiang Yuanbian (1525–1590)
Unidentified seals: Jidi Jinshi Cang Shu Hua Yinji X Wuzhai Cang Shu Ji Zhongxian Daifu Tejin Rongluo Daifu
Lewis Cass Ledyard , New York (until 1923; donated to MMA)
Washington D.C. Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. "Chinese Figure Painting," 1973.