Hanging scroll; ink and color on paper
Image: 121.8 x 53.5 cm (47 15/16 x 21 1/16 in.); Overall: 259.7 x 89.5 cm (102 1/4 x 35 1/4 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1971.17
Seven of An Qi's close friends wrote poetic inscriptions on the silk brocade around his portrait.
An Qi, the subject of the portrait, was a second-generation salt merchant from Korea. He used part of his tremendous wealth to collect art. At the time this painting was commissioned, An Qi was less than forty years old. He is represented as a Daoist recluse, a portrait convention for literati-scholars: Dressed in informal attire, he sits upon a leopard skin, accompanied by his scrolls, a wrapped qin or zither, and a servant. The crane motif enforces the image of a life in seclusion. An Qi’s portrait is evidence that the merchant class in fact aspired to be perceived as part of the scholar-official class in both life-style and social-status.
According to the inscription, this painting was the joint effort of three men, the eldest and most famous among whom was Wang Hui. While the garden setting is homogenous in style, it contrasts with the application of opaque pigments and shading employed for the depiction of An Qi’s face.
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