Chen Shun, Zhoujintang ('Hall of Daytime Elegance'), followed by the Zhoujintang ji ('Record of the Hall of Daytime Elegance'), a handscroll painting

From China
Ming Dynasty, dated AD 1544

With an anonymous portrait of Han Qi

The sixteenth-century artist Chen Shun was an accomplished painter and calligrapher from Suzhou who belonged to the Wu School of literati painting (wenren hua).

In China the two arts of calligraphy and painting were regarded as interchangeable modes of communication. This scroll is an example where the two have been brought together, and given a historical lineage that was much valued in the Confucian tradition of literati painting.

The scroll begins with a calligraphic frontispiece, written in large seal script. Frontispieces like these were in use as early as the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368). It is followed by a small painting which depicts the Hall set within a garden by the riverside. This was a subject that had long been associated with the painters of the Wu school. The scroll continues with the Zhoujintang ji, a piece of calligraphy written by Chen in running script. The brush has been used with great versatility, both in bold pressured strokes and fine light ones. There is also a rhythmic fluidity in the alternation between the full and abbreviated characters.

There follows an anonymous portrait of Han Qi (1008-1075), the master of the Hall of Daytime Elegance. Han was a government official who had been famous for his calligraphy. The portrait has been painted in the style of the Song Dynasty, in keeping with the period in which Han had lived. This antique flavour is further enhanced by the accompanying biography, which has been written in archaic seal script. The skill of this calligraphy may be seen from controlled and even roundness of the strokes.

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More information


A. Farrer, The brush dances and the ink s (Hayward Gallery, London, 1990)


Length: 625.000 mm
Width: 295.000 mm

Museum number

Asia OA 1981.11-10.01 (Chinese Painting Add. 433)


Brooke Sewell Fund


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