Pine, Plum, and Fungus of Immortality

Artist: Zhang Daqian 張大千 (China, 1899-1983)
Historical period(s)
Modern period, 1923
Ink and color on paper
H x W: 221.5 x 52.2 cm (87 3/16 x 20 9/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

China, Modern period (1912 - present), pine tree, plum blossom, WWII-era provenance
Provenance research underway.

This painting, one of Chang Dai-chien's earliest known dated works, reveals a surprising versatility in the brushwork of an artist not yet twenty-five years old. Its style reveals allusions to earlier masters. In his inscription, Chang Dai-chien mentions two sources: the painters Huang Quan (ca. 903-965) and Shen Zhou (1427-1509). Actually, the roster of influences is broader and includes Chang's teachers, Zeng Xi (1861-1930) and Li Ruiqing (1867-1920). For the technique of representing rocks, Chang was influenced by Li Shan (active 1711-1762), who often painted "from the inside out." He first swiped pale ink on the paper and before it was dry, added the contour strokes that blended with the interior wash, and then brushed color over the rocks.

The unusual coloring of the plum tree and the decorative quality of the painting reflect Chang Dai-chien's admiration for antique Chinese kesi or weft-woven tapestries. Weavers created compositions on the loom that featured blocks of bright, unmodulated colors outlined by black; often the weavers' color choices were unrealistic. Such effects may have inspired Chang to try color combinations not used by other artists. Chang studied textile dying and commercial weaving as a young man between 1917 and 1919, and this had a strong impact on his later career as a painter.

Published References
  • Bonnie Sheppard. The 10 Most Successful Art Forgers. p. 44.
  • Fu Shen, Jan Stuart. Challenging the Past: The Paintings of Chang Dai-Chien. Exh. cat. Washington and Seattle. cat. 2, pp. 88-90, 204.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Whistler's Neighborhood
Google Cultural Institute
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