Orchid and ColophonArtist(s)Shitao (Shih-t'ao)Object Creation Date1644-1707Medium & Supportink on paperDimensions
11 11/16 x 13 3/16 in. (29.6 x 33.4 cm);14 5/8 x 19 3/4 in. (37.1 x 50.1 cm)Credit LineGift of the Marvin Felheim CollectionLabel copy
Copies and Invention in East Asia (August 17, 2019 - January 5, 2020)
Orchids, bamboo, plum blossoms, and chrysanthemums are known as the “four gentlemen” in Chinese culture. Because of their ability to endure unfavorable climates, their light fragrance, and their understated beauty, these plants are regarded as “good company” for a literati (amateur scholarartist) and signify a scholar of integrity and talent. They have been depicted in monochrome ink painting in China since the eleventh century. For literati painters, the goal was to capture the plant’s character through expressive brushwork, rather than to represent it physical qualities. Shitao was an important early Qing dynasty painter, calligrapher, and art theorist. This album leaf exemplifies his spontaneous, uninhibited brushwork, and his use of complementary styles of calligraphy and painting. Here, the writing, which says he aspires to be like the orchid, mimicks the shape of the orchid’s leaves.
Winter 2015 Gallery Rotation
Shitao was an important early Qing dynasty painter, calligrapher, and art theorist. This album leaf exemplifies his spontaneity, uninhibited brushwork, and particular concern for using complementary styles of calligraphy and painting. Here, the brushwork of both is quite free and they appear to be in dialogue, with the calligraphy of the inscription mimicking the shape of the orchid’s leaves.
In the colophon to this work, Shitao says that he aspires to be like the orchid, which in China has been a metaphor for a scholar of integrity and talent since the third century.Subject matter
The painting depicts an orchid on the left, with calligraphical texts on the right-hand half. Paper is faded, and ink is black.Primary Object Classification Unbound Work Primary Object TypeleafAdditional Object Classification(s)PaintingCollection AreaAsianRights
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