Fisherman

Artist: Wu Zhen (Chinese, 1280–1354)

Calligrapher: Wu Zhen (Chinese, 1280–1354)

Period: Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)

Date: ca. 1350

Culture: China

Medium: Handscroll; ink on paper

Dimensions: Image: 12 1/4 x 21 3/16 in. (31.1 x 53.8 cm)
Overall with mounting: 13 1/4 x 136 1/2 in. (33.7 x 346.7 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Bequest of John M. Crawford Jr., 1988

Accession Number: 1989.363.33

Description

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 (1427–1509). 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.

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