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Bamboo, Orchid, and Rocks

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Period: Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Medium: ink on paper
Format: hanging scroll

Artist(s): Zheng Xie (1693-1765)

Dimensions: 123 × 65.4 cm

The painting depicts orchid and bamboo leaves growing vigorously from rocks. The composition is unusual. Orchid and bamboo are added to break the monotony of the rocks, while the rocks help to organize the plants. With bold and spontaneous brush strokes and moisture-saturated ink application, this painting typifies Zheng's paintings of orchids and bamboo.   
  Zheng Xie was a native of Yangzhou, Jiangsu province. He earned the jinshi degree in 1736 and was appointed to several government posts, including the District Magistrate in Shandong province. He resisted flattering influential officials and wealthy people for his own benefit. Zheng was an outstanding painter of bamboo, orchids, and rocks. He modeled the free ink-splash painting method typical of Xu Wei (1521-1593) and Shitao (1642-ca.1707). Transformed from a Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE) script called "eighty percent style of writing", he created a unique style dubbed "sixty-five percent style", in which clerical script is merged into running script and regular script, adding special charm to his calligraphic works. The spaces between and within characters are well proportioned while Zheng's strokes show a contained vigor, with well-proportioned upright and slanting characters. Therefore, his calligraphic style is dubbed "rip-rapped paving stone style".

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