Portrait of Wang Guangan (Wang Kuang-an), Physician

Accession Number

Portrait of Wang Guangan (Wang Kuang-an), Physician

Xie Bin

Object Creation Date
circa 1660-1680

Medium & Support
album leaf, ink on paper

17 7/16 x 20 7/8 in. (44.2 x 52.9 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of David L. Chambers and John G. Crane

Label copy
This album leaf and the adjacent one may be from a set portraying famous historical physicians from the Wu area (today’s Jiangsu province). This leaf depicts the Ming-dynasty (1368–1644) physician Wang Guangan, who was a native of Changzhou (today’s Suzhou), then a cultural and arts center. Wang Guangan wears a scholar’s robe and holds a bamboo staff, suggesting he lives the life of a recluse. The artist’s skill can be seen in the fluid brushstrokes delineating the body, and the subtle lines vividly rendering the face, which are done with the tip of the brush.
Album leaves offer a handy format for portraits since accompanying texts can inform viewers of the person’s traits and deeds. Here, the standard-script calligraphy presents a biography of Wang Guangan taken from a Ming dynasty book. This text tell us that Wang was an encyclopedic scholar and a distinguished master of medicine, but that he was an erratic man. He did not wish to get married and was not interested in passing the civil service examination to pursue a career in government. Though short and not good-looking, he was a dutiful son. Many scholars of his day celebrated his character and knowledge, and Xie Bin’s portrait suggests that literary
men of later generations admired him as well.
Spring/Summer Gallery Rotation 2015

Subject matter
The portrait is of Wang Guangan, a physician during the Ming dynasty. The text contains a biography of Guangan, telling of how he was a scholar and master of medicine, but tended to be erratic.

Physical Description
Album leaf in black ink. Left page contains text and the right page depicts a man with a beard and mustache, dressed in robes, and holding a bamboo staff.

Primary Object Classification
Unbound Work

Primary Object Type

Additional Object Classification(s)

Collection Area

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& Author Notes

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