Peach Blossom Spring

In this fan painting mounted as an album leaf, a fishing boat is moored at shore. Water stretches to the right, and above it calligraphic text recounting the story of Peach Blossom Spring. To the left of the boat, are green his, blossoming peach trees, and a man in a small cave.
Qiu Ying (Ch'iu Ying)
1542
This fan is a rare collaboration between two famous artists from Suzhou who belonged to different social strata. The calligraphy is the work of the great literati (non-professional artist) master Wen Zhengming, while the painting is by the professional painter Qiu Ying. Literati artists such as Wen were part of an educated elite that pursued painting and calligraphy as gentlemanly pastimes rather than for financial gain. By contrast, painters who earned their living selling their work usually came from humble families and seldom had a formal education. The scene is from The Account of the Peach Blossom Spring, inscribed on the scroll by Wen. This famous prose work written by Tao Yuanming (372–427), the great poet of the Eastern Jin dynasty (317–420), tells the story of an ordinary man who stumbles upon a utopian world that he cannot find again after leaving it. The tale was reinterpreted by many Chinese poets and thinkers and has western counterparts in stories from Arcadia to Brigadoon.
Museum purchase made possible by the Margaret Watson Parker Art Collection Fund
1976/1.212
Thursday, March 4, 2021
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