Zhang Daqian Chinese

Not on view

This delightful scroll is one of several paintings that Zhang Daqian painted for Lin Yutang in the summer of 1965. It features a group of mushrooms depicted in profile or from below. Zhang's humble vantage point elevates this mundane subject to something worthy of
aesthetic appreciation. The sharp blades of grass around the mushrooms indicate that they are growing in the wild. Zhang Daqian's "ink play" not only engages the viewer with its spontaneity, but also reveals something very personal. Zhang was a most discriminating
connoisseur of Chinese cuisine and a chef of the first rank. One of the ingredients that he valued most was mushrooms, as confirmed by his inscription, where he shows off his knowledge of their regional variety:

In Nanzhao [Yunnan province] there are jizong [mushrooms]; in the north there are koumo. Those from my homeland are so rich in flavor. Lately my hunger for them is insatiable, but what can I do except build my dreams with songrong [matsutake mushrooms]? The jizong from southern Yunnan and [koumo] from Zhangjiakou [in Hebei province] are two of the best ingredients for cooking. Others, such as the sanpa of Sichuan, the majun of Hunan, the lanhua of West River [in Guangdong and Guangxi provinces], and the songhua of Gaolan [Lanzhou, Gansu province], are also top choices. None of them can be acquired now. Only the songrong mushrooms from Japan can barely match them. In the summer of the yisi year [1965], Yuan.

(trans. by Shi-yee Liu)

Mushrooms, Zhang Daqian (Chinese, 1899–1983), Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper, China

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