Enjoying Pomegranate and Hollyhock Flowers

Artist: Gao Jian (1634-1707)
Historical period(s)
Qing dynasty, 1662
Ink and color on paper
H x W: 239 x 83.2 cm (94 1/8 x 32 3/4 in)
China, Suzhou
Credit Line
Gift of Arthur M. Sackler
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

China, flower viewing, hollyhock, pomegranate, Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911)

To ?
Wong Pao-hsi, Hong Kong. [1]

Sale, New York, Sotheby Parke Bernet Inc., Paintings by Ming and C’hing Masters from the Lok Tsai Hsien Collection, April 22, 1976, sale #3860, lot 68: “Hermit in a Sparse Landscape.” [2]

To 1987
Arthur M. Sackler (1913-1987), New York. [3]

From 1987
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, gift of Arthur M. Sackler, New York. [4]


[1] See object file.

[2] See note 1.

[3] See note 1.

[4] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Wong Pao-hsi
Dr. Arthur M. Sackler 1913-1987


Gao Jian, a native of Suzhou in south-central China, was admired for his poetry and paintings. He was only twenty-eight years old when he painted this work, which although casual in tone, possesses a delicacy witnessed in his light, fluid brushwork, and richly nuanced palette. Stylistically the painting relates to works by other artists of the time, including the literati painter Xiang Shengmo (1597-1658).

The artist's inscription gives the date of the painting as the holiday Duanwu in the year 1662. Duanwu is an important festival in the traditional Chinese calendar that occurs on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month (which usually corresponds to early to mid-June). It is said to be the most pernicious day of the year, when the sultry heat brings out poisonous creatures and evil. The bright red pomegranate flowers that bloom in the summer season, seen here in the mid-ground, are said, by virtue of their auspicious color, to ward off evil. The loosely clad figure in the painting, who no doubt seeks a streamside breeze, enjoys these holiday flowers with a jar of wine at his side to augment the day's celebratory mood.

Published References
  • Sale Catalogue, April 22, 1976. New York, 1976. lot 68.
  • et al. Asian Art in the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery: The Inaugural Gift. Washington, 1987. cat. 198, p. 297.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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