Chrysanthemums and Cabbage


c. 1486 or before

Tao Cheng 陶成

(Chinese, active c. 1471–after 1502)
Overall: 28.6 x 253.7 cm (11 1/4 x 99 7/8 in.)
Location: not on view
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Did You Know?

Eminent calligrapher Wang Wenzhi 王文治 was only 27 sui when he wrote the title in 1756.


On an autumn day in Beijing, Tao Cheng had a gathering with a group of scholar-officials and created two paintings in a spontaneous, casual style. The first depicts chrysanthemums, slender bamboo stalks, and a rock in monochrome ink. Tao applied light colors for the second painting that depicts cabbage. Tao deliberately placed the images on the first sections of the paper so that his honorable guests could add their poetic inscriptions inspired by his imagery.

In the first section to the right, all seven poetic inscriptions refer to the beloved poet and recluse Tao Qian (also called Tao Yuanming, AD 365–427) who was particularly known for his profound love for chrysanthemum flowers. Most of the inscriptions in the second section express sympathy for the poor, since cabbage is the main ingredient in their humble food. Taken together, the poems and paintings allude to the life and responsibilities of the scholar-official: the importance of both an upright character and a concern for the poor citizens in order to achieve good government.
Chrysanthemums and Cabbage

Chrysanthemums and Cabbage

c. 1486 or before

Tao Cheng

(Chinese, active c. 1471–after 1502)
China, Ming dynasty (1368–1644)

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