Couplet in cursive script

Poem of fourteen characters in ink on paper. Signature of two characters. One seal. Part of original paper missing at lower left corner, the rest worn and cracked. Panel.

Maker(s)
Artist: Chen Xianzhang ( 1428-1500)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, mid-late 15th century
Medium
Ink on paper
Dimensions
H x W: 183.4 x 91.5 cm (72 3/16 x 36 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1945.41
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Calligraphy
Type

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

Keywords
China, couplet, cursive script, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), WWII-era provenance
Provenance

To 1945
Mrs. Edith Drake, Chicago, Illinois. [1]

1945
American-Chinese Committee of the Mass Education Movement, Chicago, Illinois. [2]

From 1945
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from the American-Chinese Committee of the Mass Education Movement, Chicago, Illinois. [3]

Notes:

[1] See object file. Also see Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List after 1920, “owned by Mrs. Drake Tonying acted as agent”.

[2] Curatorial Remark 1 in the object record.

[3] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Mrs. Edith L. Drake
American-Chinese Committee of the Mass Education Movement Founded 1920s

Description

Poem of fourteen characters in ink on paper. Signature of two characters. One seal. Part of original paper missing at lower left corner, the rest worn and cracked. Panel.

Inscription(s)

1. (From original folder sheet note 2) (A.G.W., 1945)

The inscription written in ts'ao shu [chn], or "grass" writing, is a poetic couplet composed of two seven-character lines which run:

[chn]

"Wherever the light of body tread on the steaming mist There are the countless years of the pine pitch at Stone Cave."

This couplet is an allusion to a 4th century Taoist work on alchemy by Ko Hung [chn] was sick of leprosy, but on taking pine pitch, given him by a Taoist sage, he was cured, and at the age of 110 his color was still like that of a youth and he became an immortal. Stone Cave is the place whence the mist and clouds come. The poem is signed Po-sha [chn] and beneath the signature is a seal reading Shih-chai [chn] which was a literary name of the writer.

Published References
  • Smithsonian Institution. Report of the Secretary, 1946-1947. Washington. pl. 1.
  • Sze Mai-Mai. The Tao of Painting: A Study for the Ritual Disposition of Chinese Painting. Bollingen Series, no. 49 2 vols., New York. pl. 5.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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