國立故宮博物院 National Palace Museum (New Window)
The Art and Collecting of Painting and Calligraphy: The Ming Dynasty Legacy of Xiang Yuanbian and His Family
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After Su Shi's Bamboo for the Deity of Longevity
After Su Shi's Bamboo for the Deity of Longevity (New window)
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Xiang Yuanbian (1525-1590), Ming dynasty
Hanging scroll, ink on paper, 56.8 x 29.2 cm


Xiang Yuanbian (style names Zijing, Molin jushi ["Ink Forest Layman"]) was a native of Jiaxing, Zhejiang, who had the Hall of Heavenly Sounds (Tianlai ge) built to house his art collection. A great collector and connoisseur in the Jiangnan area, he also learned painting from works in his collection. In landscapes for example, he studied the Yuan dynasty literati styles of Huang Gongwang and Ni Zan, while his plum blossoms, orchids, and bamboo and stones have a great serenity and untrammeled feeling.

This work shows two stalks of slender bamboo in tranquil ink by stones on a slope. The brushwork is elegantly plain and straightforward, much in the literati style. Done in 1580 as a birthday blessing for the father of a friend, the authorship of this painting was later confirmed by Xiang's grandson, Xiang Gaomo.

Reeds and Geese
Reeds and Geese (New window)
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Xiang Shengmo (1597-1658), Ming dynasty
Hanging scroll, ink on paper, 80.6 x 39.8 cm


Xiang Shengmo (style name Kongzhang; sobriquets Yian, Xuqiao) was the grandson of Xiang Yuanbian. Gifted at calligraphy and painting landscapes, he first studied the style of Wen Zhengming and later included those of the Song and Yuan dynasty masters, making him the most gifted painter in the Xiang clan.

This work depicts shoals and reeds along with flocks of wild geese resting and flying (some in formation). The sky above the expansive river has the tinge of a cool autumn day at dusk, imparting a feeling of cold desolation to the viewer while demonstrating the artist's success in conveying poetic sentiment.

A Xiang Shengmo seal here reads, "Literary Grandson from the Hall of Heavenly Sounds," revealing his artistic reliance on his grandfather.

Waiting for the Ferry by a Misty River
Waiting for the Ferry by a Misty River (New window)
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Qian Xuan (1239-1301), Song dynasty
Handscroll, ink and colors on paper, 21.6 x 111.2 cm


Qian Xuan (style name Shunju; sobriquets Yutan and Zhahuo weng) was a Presented Scholar (jinshi) of the Jingding reign (1260-1264). Excelling at painting, he did not serve in office after the fall of the Song dynasty, spending his life indulging in poetry and drink instead.

This scroll depicts an autumn landscape with mountains and slopes mostly outlined and textured using a stiff, upright brush. With its "blue-and-green" beauty and classic archaism, the work is filled with a lyrical and literati sense of tranquility. The artist used this serene landscape to inscribe poetry, subtly expressing his private wish to become a hermit.

The root of a tree to the right is inscribed with the character "yun 運," the 780th from the "Thousand Character Classic" and an accession number used for the collection of Xiang Yuanbian's Hall of Heavenly Sounds.

Letter to Library Editor Mengde
Letter to Library Editor Mengde (New window)
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Su Shi (1037-1101), Song dynasty
Album leaf, ink on paper, 28.6 x 40.2 cm


Su Shi (style name Zizhan, sobriquet Dongpo jushi) was a native of Meishan in Sichuan. A master gifted at prose, poetry, painting, and calligraphy, in the latter he combined the virtues of the Two Wangs (Wang Xizhi and Wang Xianzhi), Yan Zhenqing, Li Yong, and Yang Ningshi to broaden his manner and create a natural style not lacking in regulation, so much so that Huang Tingjian called him "First in the Dynasty."

Su Shi was banished to Lianzhou in 1100 and along the way wrote this letter to his friend Zhao Mengde. Known as the "Crossing the Seas" letter, it is typical of Su's style, mature and powerful while steady yet unrestrained--representative of his later years.

This work bears the 801st character (ju 具) from the "Thousand Character Classic," which Xiang Yuanbian used to accession his art collection.

Letter to Monk Zhongfeng
Letter to Monk Zhongfeng (New window)
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Zhao Mengfu (1254-1322), Yuan dynasty
Album leaf, ink on paper, 31.1 x 66.7 cm


Zhao Mengfu (style name Ziang, sobriquet Songxue daoren), a native of Huzhou, was a descendant of the Song imperial clan who later entered service under the Yuan and became a Reader-in-Attendance at the Hanlin Academy. He excelled at painting and calligraphy, being ranked as one of the leading artists in his day.

Zhongfeng, a high monk of the Yuan dynasty, was also highly respected, and both Zhao and his wife took him as their master, hence the letters that they wrote. Here, the mature brushwork and lofty manner, as well as the spirited writing and casual appearance, remind one at once of Wang Xizhi's style.

This work bears Xiang Yuanbian's accession number "diao 凋," the 768th character from the "Thousand Character Classic."

Six Scenes in Imitation of Song and Yuan Masters 
Six Scenes in Imitation of Song and Yuan Masters (New window)
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Qiu Ying (ca. 1494-1552), Ming dynasty
Album leaf, ink and colors on silk, 29.2 x 47.1 cm


Qiu Ying (style name Shifu, sobriquet Shizhou) was a native of Taicang, Jiangsu. A lacquer craftsman when he was a youth, he later met the painter Zhou Chen. Becoming his student, he gradually achieved fame in art circles on his own. Qiu was also once employed at Xiang Yuanbian's residence, where he copied ancient paintings to his heart's content.

The brushwork in this album is free and natural, the coloring also light and elegant. In the beautiful precision appears a casual elegance. Done in 1547, it is impressed with such collector seals of Xiang Yuanbian as "Secret Pleasure of Molin."

On the end leaf is also a colophon by Xiang Yuanbian and the 689th character from the "Thousand Character Classic" (ling 聆), indicating it was once in his collection. Qiu may have also been done it while he was employed at Xiang's home.

 
 

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