(Chinese, second half of the 1300s)
Handscroll, ink on paper
Overall: 31.8 x 153.2 cm (12 1/2 x 60 5/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1967.36
This handscroll is a very rare example of ink flowers in the linear baimiao style of the fourteenth century.
Zhao Zhong's flowers, each paired with a poem, echo the fine-style colored flowers of the academic tradition, but instead he used only ink. Fine lines define the contours of each plant, as well as the veins within each petal and leaf. Careful ink washes give subtle modeling to the forms.
The combination of lily, narcissus, and peony is unusual as the three belong to no known seasonal or symbolic system popular in the fourteenth century. Zhao’s medical training may have influenced the selection. Powdered lilies, for example, were prescribed to dispel grief, while the bark of tree peony roots was used as a treatment for various blood disorders.
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