Eight album leaves dedicated to Zhou Liangging, paintings in ink and colour on paper

Nanjing, China
Qing dynasty, 17th century AD

This album was assembled by Zhou Lianggong (1612-1672), an official who was a leading patron, collector and critic of the seventeenth century. It encapsulates the artistic practices, relationships and lifestyles of the literati circles of Nanjing at the time.

Due to his father's interest, Zhou became involved in artistic activities at an early age. At 13, he befriended the famous painter Chen Hongshou, one of the contributors to this album (Leaf b). He went on to be a lifelong admirer of the artist, commissioning over forty works from him. Other contributing artists, such as Hu Yü-kun, Gao Cen and Zhu Ruiwu, belonged to prominent artistic families in Nanjing who were closely associated with Zhou.

By his own reckoning, Zhou possessed fifty-one albums similar to this one. He had a great reputation as a collector and patron: the painter Gongxian (about 1618-89) enthusiastically described Zhou's Record of Reading Paintings (Duhua lu) as storing 'ten thousand hanging scrolls and a thousand cases of albums' and artists came to him like 'shooting stars or lightning'.

The Record of Reading Paintings (Duhua lu) contained biographical sketches of seventy-seven painters and an additional list of sixty-eight painters. It was published after his death. This study revealed an important evolution in the development of Chinese painting. It showed the increasing trend of professional painters taking up literati traditions, thus narrowing the distance between the professional and the 'scholar-amateur'. This is reflected in the leaves of this album.

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More information


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

K. Suzuki (ed.), Comprehensive illustrated cata (University of Tokyo Press, 1982)

K. Hongnam, The life of a patron: Zhou Lia (China Institute in America, New York, 1996)

R. Whitfield, 'The aesthetics of Ch'ing paintings', Apollo-5, 106: 188 (October 1977)


Height: 250.000 mm (each leaf approx.)
Width: 325.000 mm (each leaf approx.)

Museum number

Asia OA 1965.7-24.010 (1-8) (Chinese Painting Add. 348)


Brooke Sewell Fund


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