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The artist’s inscription on the work notes the date as the twentieth of the third month of the yiyou year (1945) and the location as Jin’gang in the western suburbs of Chongqing. Along with the inscription, two seals serve as additional signatures; they are a square seal with “Seal of Baoshi” (Baoshi zhi yin) in intaglio, which shows the characters outlined by vermillion ink, and a rectangular seal with “Frequently after Becoming Intoxicated” (Wangwang zuihou) in relief, which shows the characters in vermillion ink.
Dongshan (lit. “East Mountain”) refers to Xie An (320–385) of the Eastern Jin dynasty (317–420). Also known by his courtesy name Anshi (lit. “Tranquil Rock”), Xie was originally from Yangxia in Chen Commandery (present-day Taikang, Henan Province). Born into a prestigious household, he received an elite education. He has become associated with having an astute mind and a calm, gracious demeanor. He was well-known, even as a young man, and was summoned to serve at the imperial court. However, he declined on the pretense of illness. Eventually, he isolated himself from the world at Dongshan (Kuaiji, Zhejiang Province) and whiled away two decades entertaining renowned figures like the writer Wang Xizhi (303–361), the scholar Xu Xun, and the monk Zhi Dun (314–366). During this time, he spent his days fishing and hunting or composing literature; he also indulged himself with beautiful entertainers. Immersed in Study of the Mysterious (Xuanxue), Buddhism, and Daoism, he came to embrace an unconventional lifestyle—one in which qualified individuals, like himself, rejected official positions and isolated themselves from centers of power. Later generations have associated him with an experience of unfettered emotions and a relaxed life in the natural world. Consequently, many poets and painters have adopted his life as a theme in their work.
This work by Fu Baoshi shows the handsome Xie An enjoying a life of refinement. He wears a robe with wide sleeves as he walks with two ladies in tow. The two women appear to be chatting with each other in soft voices. In painting the scene, Fu was expressing his ideal of an unrestrained life.
The Palace Museum received this work as a donation from Fu Baoshi’s wife Luo Shihui.
Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Zhuang Ying