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Gao Fenghan, The Ancient Pine of Dongmou, a fan painting


Width: 53.000 cm (max.)

Gift of Sir George de S. Barrow GCB, KCMG

Asia OA 1951.4-7.010 (Chinese Painting Add. 266)


    Gao Fenghan, The Ancient Pine of Dongmou, a fan painting

    Qing dynasty, dated AD 1727 (the dingwei year)

    Gao Fenghan (1683 - after 1747) was one of the Yangzhou baguai, the 'Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou'. Originally from Shandong Province, he served as a minor official in Anhui. In 1736, after refuting corruption charges levelled against him, Gao settled in a monastery in Yangzhou where he became an active participant of the city's artistic and literary circles. He painted mostly flowers and landscapes, in a personal and spontaneous style. In 1737, after severe arthritis had crippled his right hand, he began painting with his left. However, this work was made before his arthritis, and the strong brushwork has none of the 'irregularity, roughness and awkwardness' that Gao himself had observed in his left-handed works.

    According to the main inscription, this fan was painted for his brother, Yancun. Although he usually painted the pines of Mount Huang, this was a strange pine seen in Ninghai, Zhejiang Province. Mount Huang was famous for its pines and its scenery was favoured by many painters. The second poem at the left edge suggests that this particular branch was thirteen paces long and flowers had sprouted there from seeds brought by the wind. The powerful pine branch is skilfully painted against the arc of the fan. Gao describes 'crouching dragons stretched out in strange and wonderful shapes'.

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