Juniper, from an album of flower and rock arrangements in pots

Artist: Sun Kehong (1532-1610)
Colophon: Wu Hufan (1894-1968)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, probably 1590s
Ink and color on paper
H x W: 53.2 x 45.7 cm (20 15/16 x 18 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Karen Y. Wang in memory of her father, Nan-Ping Wong
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Album, Painting

Album leaf

bonsai, China, juniper, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644)
Provenance research underway.

As a retired scholar-official, Sun Kehong spent his leisure painting and cultivating miniature trees and plants. In this work he combined the two pastimes. Cultivating dwarfed trees has been practiced in China since at least the eighth century and was exported to Japan, where the tradition is called “bonsai,” a word that is now part of the English language. Bonsai’s popularity in China soared during a burst of urbanization in the sixteenth century when increasing congestion in cities made miniature plants an ideal way of representing nature in tiny outdoor courtyards. Larger philosophic issues also intrigued sixteenth-century Chinese gentlemen who saw in bonsai an intellectual challenge to reproduce the macrocosmic world on a small scale and capture nature’s infinite forms of energy in a model suitable for everyday contemplation.

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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