Cleansing Medicinal Herbs in the Stream on a Spring Day

Cleansing Medicinal Herbs in the Stream on a Spring Day



Yu Zhiding 禹之鼎

(Chinese, 1647-c. 1716)

Handscroll, ink and color on paper

Overall: 38.7 cm (15 1/4 in.)

Severance and Greta Millikin Purchase Fund 2000.69


Did you know?

In the pavilion are some of Shi Shenyi’s scholarly accoutrements: a stack of books, an antique zun 尊 (wine vessel), a brush holder, an ink stone, and a small chime.


A famous portraitist, Yu Zhiding here depicts the likeness of Shi Shenyi 史申義 (1661–1712), an official and poet. Master Shi, a sickly man, was deeply interested in medicinal science. The opening section of the scroll features a boy washing a fungus in fresh spring water, a basket of medicinal herbs by his side. Other servants carry a fan, a bundle of scrolls, and a cup of tea or hot wine. Master Shi sits in a bamboo grove, surrounded by fields of herbs. Returning swallows, pink peach blossoms, and blooming magnolia indicate spring, whereas the fungus conveys wishes for long life. The spring theme may express the artist’s wish for his friend’s recovery.

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