Wu Zhen (Chinese, 12801354)
Handscroll; ink on paper; 9 3/4 x 17 in. (24.8 x 43.2 cm)
Inscribed by the artist
Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988 (1989.363.33)
Wu Zhen lived the life of a recluse. He was not very famous or successful during his lifetime, but in the Ming period he came to be designated one of the Four Great Masters of the late Yuan dynasty and his style was favored by many Ming painters, most notably Shen Zhou (14271509). Wu was fond of doing "ink plays," and his drawing shows a cartoonlike simplicity and directness.
Accompanying the hermit-fisherman, a symbol of the late Yuan unemployed scholar, is Wu Zhen's poetic colophon:
Red leaves west of the village reflect evening rays,
Yellow reeds on a sandy bank cast early moon shadows.
Lightly stirring his oar,
Thinking of returning home,
He puts aside his fishing pole and will catch no more.