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Painting

Lofty Mount Lu
Shen Chou (1427-1509), Ming dynasty (1368-1644)
Hanging scroll, ink and colors on paper, 193.8 x 98.1 cm

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Shen Chou (style name Ch'i-nan, and sobriquets Shih-t'ien and Pai-shih-weng) was a native of Ch'ang-chou (modern Soochow), Kiangsu province. Magnanimous by nature, he was an able poet, essayist, and calligrapher as well as an excellent painter. Although best known for his landscapes, he was equally talented in depicting flowers, fruits and vegetables, and animals in monochrome ink. It has been said of Shen Chou that before the age of 40 he painted small scenes; after turning forty, he switched to painting larger works. He completed this work in 1467 when he was 40. The brushwork resembles that of the Yüan painter Wang Meng, whose style Shen is said to have followed before the age of 40. However, this transitional work also reflects Shen's own style, which has given it an even strong sense of straightforwardness and vigor.

The mountains and slopes were first modeled with hemp-fiber texture strokes and tinted with light ink, to which layers of dark ink were added to build up the slopes. The mists and the coloring of the mountains are particularly luminous and well done. A waterfall plunges hundreds of feet, the torrent's waters becoming light and gentle below. This piece was completed in honor of the 70th birthday of Ch'en K'uan, Shen Chou's teacher, and thus has been painted very carefully to produce an especially fine effect.
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