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Plum Blossoms and Peonies

Plum Blossoms and Peonies

1741

Gao Fenghan 高鳳翰

(Chinese, 1683-1749)

Handscroll, ink on paper

Image: 26 x 96.2 cm (10 1/4 x 37 7/8 in.); Overall: 28.9 x 534.7 cm (11 3/8 x 210 1/2 in.)

Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1980.13

Description

This was painted in 1741, the year when Gao decided to leave the south and return home to Shandong province. Prior to this, he was active in Suzhou and Yangzhou, making a living from his art after he had lost his official position. It has been suggested that this work was likely a song of farewell, borrowing the quiet simplicity of the plum blossoms and the ephemeral splendor of the peonies to express personal feelings. One of Gao's left-handed paintings, this work was done after the crippling of his right hand in 1737. As Gao remarked ironically, "the crudeness, resistance, sluggishness, and awkwardness [of the brushwork] are totally unparalleled and unattainable by the right hand."

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