late Ming (1368–1644) or early Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
17th or 18th century
Album of eight leaves; ink on paper
Image (each): 6 1/2 x 13 3/8 in. (16.5 x 34 cm)
Lent by The Chih Lo Lou Collection, Hong Kong
Not on view
A native from Zhuji, in northern Zhejiang, Chen Zi survived extreme hardship in childhood during the early years of the Manchu conquest. As a professional artist, however, his works reflect little anguish over the dynastic change.
In both painting and calligraphy, Chen Zi followed the style of his illustrious father, the highly influential artist Chen Hongshou (1599–1652). Although the son tended to reduce the father’s archaic mannerisms into hardened conventions, he was no less versatile or experimental. This album, which covers the genres of landscape, human figure, flower-and-bird, and animal painting, demonstrates the range of his talents. The landscapes are intended to exemplify the contrasting "dry” and “wet” modes. Finely outlined flowers are juxtaposed with leaves rendered in graded ink washes in the “boneless” manner. The gaunt monk distracted by a strange animal may allude to a folk- or Buddhist tale.