Image 48 x 13 1/4 in. (121.9 x 33.7 cm), Overall with mounting 100 x 18 5/8 in. (254 x 47.3 cm), Overall with knobs 100 x 21 in. (254 x 53.3 cm)
Edward Elliott Family Collection, Gift of Douglas Dillon, 1984 (1984.475.3)
80 1/4 x 23 1/2 in. (203.8 x 59.7 cm)
Inscribed by the artist (lower right): "Done by the Free and Easy Retired Scholar [Zizai jushi]; by Qian Bo (active mid-15th century; upper right), dated 1460; by Liu Jue (1410–1472; upper left), dated 1470
Edward Elliott Family Collection, Gift of Douglas Dillon, 1989 (1989.235.1)
61 3/4 x 37 7/8 in. (156.8 x 96.2 cm)
Inscribed by the artist
Seymour Fund, 1959 (59.49.1)
42 x 10 3/4 in. (106.7 x 27.3 cm)
Inscribed by the artist (right) and by the Qianlong emperor (r. 1736–95; center), dated 1777
Edward Elliott Family Collection, Gift of Douglas Dillon, 1986 (1986.266.3)
The early Ming dynasty was a period of cultural restoration and expansion. The reestablishment of an indigenous Chinese ruling house led to the imposition of court-dictated styles in the arts. Painters recruited by the Ming court were instructed to return to didactic and realistic representation, in emulation of the styles of the earlier Southern Song (11271279) Imperial Painting Academy. Large-scale landscapes, flower-and-bird compositions, and figural narratives were particularly favored as images that would glorify the new dynasty and convey its benevolence, virtue, and majesty.
In Ming painting, the traditions of both the Southern Song painting academy and the Yuan (12791368) scholar-artist were developed further. While the Zhe (Zhejiang Province) school of painters carried on the descriptive, ink-wash style of the Southern Song with great technical virtuosity, the Wu (Suzhou) school explored the expressive calligraphic styles of Yuan scholar-painters emphasizing restraint and self-cultivation. In Ming scholar-painting, as in calligraphy, each form is built up of a recognized set of brushstrokes, yet the execution of these forms is, each time, a unique personal performance. Valuing the presence of personality in a work over mere technical skill, the Ming scholar-painter aimed for mastery of performance rather than laborious craftsmanship.
Early Ming decorative arts inherited the richly eclectic legacy of the Mongol Yuan dynasty, which included both regional Chinese traditions and foreign influences. For example, the fourteenth-century development of blue-and-white ware and cloisonné enamelware arose, at least in part, in response to lively trade with the Islamic world, and many Ming examples continued to reflect strong West Asian influences. A special court-based Bureau of Design ensured that a uniform standard of decoration was established for imperial production in ceramics, textiles, metalwork, and lacquer.
Department of Asian Art. "Ming Dynasty (1368–1644)". In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/ming/hd_ming.htm (October 2002)
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