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Figures from Chinese History: Liu Kuan

Accession Number
1983/2.157

Title
Figures from Chinese History: Liu Kuan

Artist(s)
Huang Shen

Object Creation Date
1687-1766

Medium & Support
album leaf, ink and color on paper

Dimensions
11 1/8 x 13 3/8 in. (28.26 x 33.97 cm)

Credit Line
Museum purchase made possible by the Margaret Watson Parker Art Collection Fund

Label copy
This album leaf is one of four from a series in the UMMA collections painted by Huang Shen. A skilled figure painter, Huang works in this series with swift, dynamic brush strokes that resemble calligraphy. His mastery of both painting and calligraphy, as well as poetry, is honored by his traditional epithet as one of the "Eight Eccentric Painters of Yangzhou" (a city in southern China). Each of the four album leaves in this series pictorializes an anecdote associated with a famous person in Chinese history. Each page includes an extensive inscription, signature, and two seals of the artist.
This delightful painting portrays the eighth-century magician Luo Gonyuan’s encounter with an imperial envoy who was transporting oranges and other treasures to the capital. Because he was not permitted to share the juicy fruit intended for the emperor, the magician merely bent down and smelled the oranges. Later, when the emperor ate the oranges, he found one section was missing from each, startling evidence of Luo’s powers as a Daoist master.
Gallery Rotation Winter 2012
Huang Shen
China, 1687–1766
left
Figures from Chinese History: The Taoist Luo Gongyuan Qing dynasty (1644–1912)
1687–1766
Album leaf, ink and color on paper
Museum purchase made possible by the Margaret Watson Parker Art Collection Fund, 1983/2.157
right
Figures from Chinese History: Zhang Tianqi Calling
in the Cranes
Qing dynasty (1644-1912)
1687–1766
Album leaf, ink and color on paper
Museum purchase made possible by the Margaret Watson Parker Art Collection Fund, 1983/2.158
These two album leaves are from a series by Huang Shen, known as one of the Eight Eccentric Painters of Yangzhou, a group of highly individualistic artists active in this prosperous metropolis in southern China. Here the artist uses his skill in detailed execution to render the accomplishments of two unique individuals.
The delightful painting on the left portrays the eighth-century magician and Daoist master Luo Gonyuan’s encounter with an imperial envoy transporting oranges and other treasures to the capital. Because he was not permitted to partake of the fruit intended for the emperor, the magician merely bent down and smelled the oranges, never laying a hand on them. When the emperor came to eat the oranges, however, he found one section was missing from each, startling evidence of Luo’s powers.
The painting on the right depicts Zhang Tianqi, a hermit who lived during the Northern Song dynasty (960–1126) and kept two pet cranes. In the morning he would release the birds from their cages to soar above the ravines and at dusk they would always return. The intimate rapport between the hermit and the cranes is emblematic of his deep connection with nature.

Subject matter
These two album leaves are from a series by Huang Shen, known as one of the Eight Eccentric Painters of Yangzhou, a group of highly individualistic artists active in this prosperous metropolis in southern China. Here the artist uses his skill in detailed execution to render the accomplishments of two unique individuals.
The delightful painting on the left portrays the eighth-century magician and Daoist master Luo Gonyuan’s encounter with an imperial envoy transporting oranges and other treasures to the capital. Because he was not permitted to partake of the fruit intended for the emperor, the magician merely bent down and smelled the oranges, never touching/laying a hand on them. When the emperor came to eat the oranges, however, he found one section was missing from each, startling evidence of Luo’s powers.
This is one of a set (1983/2.155, 1983/2.156, 1983/2.157, 1983/2.158).

Physical Description
Paper mounted on aqua silk. There are three figures present in the image. The focal point is a cart full of fruit. There is calligraphy on the upper left hand side of the image, complete with two red seals. There is a Christies sticker on the bottom left corner of the mounting.

Primary Object Classification
Unbound Work

Primary Object Type
leaf

Additional Object Classification(s)
Painting

Collection Area
Asian

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
Taoism
calligraphy (process)
figures (representations)
fruit (plant components)
history (discipline)

4 Related Resources

Ink and Realisms
(Part of: Artist Associations and Art Movements)
Ink and Realisms in China before 1800
(Part of: Artist Associations and Art Movements)
Daoism / Taoism
(Part of: Religion and Spirituality)
W19 Kee - HISTART 383 - Modern Asian Art
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted