明 沈周 虎丘送客图
Seeing off a Guest at Huqiu(Tiger Hill)
Shen Zhou(c. 1427-1509)
Ming dynasty, 16th year of Chenghua period(1480)
Hanging scroll, ink and colour on paper
Height 173.1cm, Width 64.2 cm
This work was painted by Shen Zhou at the age of 54, to commemorate his parting with Xu Yuan, a friend from his hometown. The composition makes exceptional use of contrasted sparseness and density, and the brushwork is exquisite, with exceptionally skilful sweeping textured stokes and application of washes. The painting features a self-authored poem by the artist and an inscription by the famous calligrapher of the period, Wu Kuan. The content of both these pieces of writing corresponds with the theme of the painting and also tell us why this painting was made. It is a powerful archetypal work from the mid-Ming Wumen school, illustrating Shen Zhou’s art at its height. At one point this piece was part of Qing Emperor Qianlong’s collection in the Forbidden City.
Shen Zhou had the style name Qi Nan and the personal name Stoney Field and was a native of Changzhou(modern day Suzhou). He was a skilled calligrapher and an accomplished painter whose expansive range led him to create his own style. His finest works were his monochrome landscapes, with their firm and bold use of brush and ink. The detailed brushwork in his landscapes suffused them with a lofty grandeur, while his use of heavy ink and light colour in figure, and bird and flower paintings filled them with charm. Shen Zhou was one of the “Four Masters of the Ming”.