Saturday in the Museum with Sanshan

Image: Detail of Zhou Wenjing, Rustic Retreat among Fisherman (15th Century).

For our Saturday art post we return to the theme for the year of where food comes from. We go back to Ming era China and the work of a court painter capturing a scene of working fishermen.

This painting, Rustic Retreat among Fishermen, is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. This is how The Met describes the work:

“This small hanging scroll elucidates Ming accounts describing how Zhou Wenjing followed the styles of both the Southern Song Academy master Xia Gui (act. ca. 1190–1225) and the Yuan scholar-painter Wu Zhen (1280–1354). The painting’s large proportion of empty space, the intimate focus, and the use of mineral colors on silk recall the highly selective “one-corner” landscapes of the Song Academy. Zhou’s intentionally naive rendering of figures and calligraphic treatment of foreground grasses and foliage patterning, however, are derived from scholar paintings of the late Yuan. This painting probably decorated a small panel or screen in the living quarters of the palace.”

The text on the painting are simple identifications in this case, with the artist’s inscription, signature along with the seals: “Painted by Sanshan, Zhou Wenjing, while serving in the Renzhi Palace.” Sanshan is the pseudonym used by Zhou.

The full painting looks like this:


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