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Bower of One Chinese Parasol (Yiwu xuan)

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Period: Ming dynasty (1368-1644)
Medium: ink and color on paper
Format: hanging scroll

Date: 1637
Artist(s): Bian Wenyu (1576-1655)

Dimensions: 100 × 44.5 cm

A native of Changzhou (today's Suzhou, Jiangsu province), Bian Wenyu was an accomplished landscapist. A student of Dong Qichang (1555-1636), he also modeled his paintings after Yuan dynasty masters Huang Gongwang and Wu Zhen. Most of his paintings feature a vigorous and imposing brush style, while several works bear noticeable resemblance to landscapes by "Susong school” painter Zhao Zuo (act. ca. 1610-30).
  Created in 1637, the tenth year of the Chongzhen reign (1628-1644), the scroll depicts a Bower called "One Chinese Parasol” (a Chinese parasol tree stands tall in the courtyard) and its surroundings. Thatched houses are situated in a mountain valley, encircled by eroded limestone rocks. A small creek flows beneath a little bridge by one side of the courtyard. The green algae, lotus leaves, and blossoming flowers add to an atmosphere of vitality and poetic beauty. In the bower, waited upon by his page, a recluse is strumming a zither, while in the courtyard a crane appears to be dancing to the music. The richly textured brushwork, echoing, thin coloration of trees leaves and blossoms, as well as the well-knit composition, all contribute to invoking in the viewer a sense of serenity and delightful leisure.

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