Hanging scroll, ink on paper
Painting: 87 x 28.5 cm (34 1/4 x 11 1/4 in.); Overall with knobs: 238.5 x 52.5 cm (93 7/8 x 20 11/16 in.)
Bequest of Mrs. A. Dean Perry 1997.101
Shen Zhou painted this is an informal and rapidly done presentation picture when he was 74 years old.
Shen Zhou painted a broken branch (zhezhi 折枝) of crab apple, a fragment of nature rather than the full plant in its natural context. Shen uses calligraphic outlines in pure ink to depict the flower petals. The swift yet precise brushstrokes together with the slight S-shaped branch convey vitality.
The inscription is a poem written by the artist, commenting on the lovely color and melancholic aura of the crab apple blossom. Shen Zhou is the founder of the Wu School, a group of scholars and officials active around Suzhou in eastern China, known for practicing painting and calligraphy in a refined and elegant style.
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