Portrait of Bi Shichang, from the set Five Old Men of Suiyang

Artist: Unidentified Artist Chinese, active 11th century

Period: Northern Song dynasty (960–1127)

Date: before 1056

Culture: China

Medium: Album leaf; ink and color on silk

Dimensions: Image: 15 3/4 x 12 5/8 in. (40 x 32.1 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1917

Accession Number: 17.170.1


This portrait is one of a set that commemorates a gathering of five retired gentlemen at Suiyang, Henan Province. The sensitive delineation of features in contrast to the thick shaded brush lines of the garment reflects Tang dynasty conventions of official portraiture and a conservatism appropriate to the subject. Equally formal is the inscription written in regular script-a style also used for steles and official documents.

Two portraits from this set of five are at the Freer Gallery, Washington, D.C., and two are in the collection of the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut.