Folding fan mounted as an album leaf; ink and color on gold-flecked paper
7 x 20 3/4 in. (17.8 x 52.7 cm)
Gift of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth, in memory of La Ferne Hatfield Ellsworth, 1986
Not on view
Zhao Zhiqian focused his commitment to calligraphic brushwork upon the genre of flower painting. Such images, with their sumptuous colors and symbolic associations with beauty, prosperity, and good fortune, appealed to the tastes of the new urban consumer. Zhao often painted on folding fans, a format popular during the later Ming and Qing dynasties, when fans became fashionable accoutrements for gentlemen.
Peony, an image that connotes material prosperity and good fortune, introduces the boldness and simplicity of seal carving and early stone-carved scripts to painting. The forms of the blossom, leaves, and stem are artfully integrated with the curving shape of the fan.
Signature: Beian Jushi Zhao Zhiqian Dated 1862
Inscription; "Pingshu sent a fan to me from Canton in the eleventh month of 1862, and asked me to do a picture for him. Before leaving for the North, I did this herbacious peony." (Beian jushi Zhao Zhiqian notes this at Guixing Studio, which is located in the western section of the official mansion Dongjia.)
Artist's seals: 1. Beian (square, red characters) 2. Authentic seal of Zhiqian (square white characters)
Marking: Collectors' seals: Robert Hatfield Ellsworth (two)
Robert H. Ellsworth , New York (until 1986; donated to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Painting: Selections from the Robert H. Ellsworth Collection," February 2, 1988–September 25, 1988.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The New Chinese Galleries: An Inaugural Installation," 1997.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Text and Image: The Interaction of Painting, Poetry, and Calligraphy," January 23, 1999–August 16, 1999.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Between Two Cultures: A Selection of Nineteenth and Twentieth Century Chinese Paintings from the Robert H. Ellsworth Collection," January 30, 2001–August 19, 2001.