Boating Under the Red Cliff

Artist: Zhang Daqian 張大千 (China, 1899-1983)
Historical period(s)
Modern period, ca. 1926-29
Ink and color on paper
H x W (image): 106.2 x 51.5 cm (41 13/16 x 20 1/4 in)
Credit Line
Purchase ā€” Smithsonian Unrestricted Trust Funds
Arthur M. Sackler Gallery
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll

boat, China, Modern period (1912 - present)
Provenance research underway.

One of the China's most famous twentieth-century artists, Chang Dai-chien is renowned for his dazzling mastery of both traditional and modern styles. "Boating under the Red Cliff" depicts a famous night outing hosted by the poet Su Shi (1036-1101), sitting in the center of the skiff, who memorialized this event in what is one of China's greatest literary gems. Chang was in his twenties and just learning the art of painting when he created this scroll, which draws heavily on stylistic elements borrowed from a painting on the same theme by the slightly earlier artist Ren Yi (1840-96). But Ren's 1883 painting does not share Chang's dramatic, cropped focus.

The landscape elements in "Boating under the Red Cliffs" show a debt to another of Chang's early models, the painter Shitao (1642-1707. Chang Dai-chien sharpened his artistic skills by assiduously copying old masters and gradually establishing a personal style. In "Boating," Chang's style is still underdeveloped, yet by the end of his career he was celebrated for being not only among the most innovative painters in Chinese art but also a major pioneer of semiabstraction.

Published References
  • Fu Shen, Jan Stuart. Challenging the Past: The Paintings of Chang Dai-Chien. Exh. cat. Washington and Seattle. cat. 3, pp. 91-93.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Whistler's Neighborhood
Google Cultural Institute
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