Image: Oversized Hanging Scrolls and Album Leaves
Title: Selections
Sub Title: Album Leaves
‧Forest of Ink Marvel Gemswei [8]
Zou Yigui (1686-1772), Qing dynasty
Album leaf, ink and colors on paper, 63 x 42.4 cm

Zou Yigui (style name Yuanbao, sobriquet Xiaoshan) was a native of Wuxi, Jiangsu. A Presented Scholar (jinshi) of 1727 under the Yongzheng Emperor and serving in the Ministry of Rites with the title of Attendant Gentleman / Minister, he also was a famous flower painter of the early Qing court.

The right leaves of this album feature paintings by Zou Yigui of 24 kinds of peony using the “broken stem” method of picked flowers done in 1746 under order of the Qianlong Emperor. There are eleven in red, five in white, four in purple, three in yellow, and one in green. The left leaves were calligraphed in running script by Zhuang Yougong (1713-1767), describing the features, appearance, or origin to the names of these varieties of peony blossoms.

‧Forest of Ink Marvel Gemsyou [10]
Shen Yuan (fl. 18th c.), Qing dynasty
Album leaf, ink and light colors on paper, 62.8 x 42.5 cm

Shen Yuan’s birth and death dates are unknown, but he served at the Qianlong (1736-1795) court, excelling at Buddhist figures and landscapes with ruled-line buildings.

In 643 the Tang emperor Taizong wanted to commemorate meritorious officials who had assisted establishing the dynasty, so he ordered portraits of 24 of them be done at Lingyan Pavilion. All life-size, he would often go visit to reminisce about the old days.

The right leaves of this album are paintings by Shen done on imperial order in 1747, depicting the 24 figures of the Lingyan Pavilion in light colors and fine brushwork. The left leaves were calligraphed by Ji Huang (1711-1794) in semi-regular script, describing the features of each official, their relation to Taizong, and their titles and achievements.

Sub Title: Hanging Scrolls
‧Lasting Peace and Great Auspiciousness
Attributed to Lu Zhi (1496-1576), Ming dynasty
Hanging scroll, ink and colors on silk, 222.3 x 81.4 cm

Lu Zhi (style name Shuping, sobriquet Baoshanzi) was a native of Wuxian, Jiangsu. Gifted at poetry, calligraphy, and painting, in the latter his individual style was pure and elegant.

On a slope by a stream are various flowers and plants. Two tall, gnarled ancient cypresses punctuate the scene. Coiled around them are tendrils of plants bearing fruit, the bottle gourd, hanging in large numbers. Nine quails are on the ground, while in a tree is a pair of brightly colored rose finches. The gourd’s numerous seeds (representing children) and the evergreen’s longevity are auspicious symbols here, while the Qianlong Emperor’s (r. 1736-1795) poem above the work also mentions “seeking peace.” The heavy colors and ink of this work, however, suggest an artist other than Lu Zhi.
‧Spring Clearing over Mt. Wu
Wen Boren (1502-1575), Ming dynasty
Hanging scroll, ink on paper, 232.3 x 42.7 cm

Wen Boren (style name Decheng, sobriquet Wufeng) was native to Suzhou, Jiangsu. Nephew of the painting and calligraphy master Wen Zhengming (1470-1559), he never sought office, instead making a living by painting. He specialized in figure and landscape painting, taking after the styles of Shen Zhou (1427-1509) and Wen Zhengming, while looking back to the Yuan dynasty master Wang Meng (1308-1385).

In this narrow hanging scroll on paper, he used “hemp-fiber” texture strokes to define the rock forms piled up to create peaks, among which is a cascade to break up the dense composition. On the bridge following the mountain path is a figure, leading the viewer’s eye through the fine scenery where one can travel and reside vicariously. The density of the arrangement is handled well and the use of brush and ink mature.