清 朱耷 河上花图卷
Flowers upon a River
Zhu Da(c. 1626-1705)
Qing dynasty, 36th year of the Kangxi period(1697)
Hand scroll, ink on paper
Height 47cm, Width 1292.5cm
Qing dynasty artist Zhu Da painted this monumental hand scroll when he was 72 years old, in 1697, during the reign of Emperor Kangxi. The technique is exquisitely practised, with fast and free brushwork and smooth luxuriant ink. The verse, calligraphy, painting and seals are all exceptional. Laden with the poetic rhythm of Chinese painting, undulating free and fluid imagery and beautiful cadence, this hand scroll is an exemplary work of free sketch ink painting. It is also the most classical of Zhu Da’s surviving works. The end of the hand scroll is inscribed by the artist with a self-authored poem “ode of the Flowers upon the River”. The verse has great literary merit and the calligraphy is expressive and unrestrained, perfectly matching the imagery. In an empty space left for colophons on the scroll, Xu Shichang has added a line in semi-cursive script which reads “in the cold mist and light ink, one seems to see the painter himself”. There are also colophons by Yong Xing and Xu Naipu from the Qing dynasty, as well as from several modern figures including Xu Shichang.
Zhu Da was ordained with the Buddhist name Zhuan Qi, had the style name Xue Ge, and he personal name Badashanren(Man of Eight Great Mountains). He was a native of Nanchang in Jiangxi Province and a descendant of the Ming dynasty Prince Zhu Quan of Ning. He had a talent for verse and prose, and excelled in semi-cursive script. He possessed a unique unembelished and smooth calligraphic style. Zhu Da was an accomplished painter of landscapes, and excelled in free sketch bird and flower paintings. His liberated and vigorous style of painting was characterised by exaggerated imagery and boundary-breaking compositions. Zhu Da was one of the Four Monk Painters of the early Qing, along with Yuan Qi, Hong Ren and Kun Can.