Lady Xuanwen Giving Instruction on the Rites of Zhou

Lady Xuanwen Giving Instruction on the Rites of Zhou



Chen Hongshou 陳洪綬

(Chinese, 1598/99-1652)

Hanging scroll, ink and color on silk

Image: 172.8 x 55.7 cm (68 1/16 x 21 15/16 in.); Overall: 293.9 x 71 cm (115 11/16 x 27 15/16 in.); with knobs: 293.9 x 79 cm (115 11/16 x 31 1/8 in.)

Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund 1961.89



This extraordinary painting by Chen Hongshou depicts the story of Xuanwen Jun, or Lady of Literary Propagation, at a venerable age, instructing young scholars on the Confucian classics. It was painted for Chen's aunt on the occasion of her 60th birthday.

Chen's painting style is archaic in the use of fine outlines and brilliant coloring with mineral pigments. In depicting the figures, he uses the "iron-wire" brush idioms (fine, even lines) with deliberate control. The faces are attenuated and exaggerated; the demeanors restrained by a sense of propriety. A few ritual bronzes lend the scene an antique flavor.

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