The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of July 15, 2024

Flowering Crab Apple

Flowering Crab Apple

(Chinese, 1427–1509)
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.)
Location: not on view

Did You Know?

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.
  • Wu Yun 吳雲 [1811–1883]
    Saito Etsuzo 齋藤悅 [early 1900s], Sumiyoshi, Japan
    (Elm & Co., Osaka, Japan, sold to Mr. and Mrs. Perry)
    c. 1960s-1987
    Mr. A. Dean Perry [1910?-1987] and Mrs. A. Dean Perry, Cleveland, OH
    Mrs. A. Dean [Helen Wade Greene] Perry [1911-1996], Cleveland, OH, bequest to the Cleveland Museum of Art
    The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • Naitō, Torajirō 內藤虎次郎. Min shitaika gafu [明四大家畫譜 = Paintings by the four great masters of the Ming dynasty]. Osaka: Hakubundō, 1924. Mentioned: p. 18
    Shinaga kenkyūkai [支那畫硏究會 = Research Club of Chinese paintings]. Shina meiga senshū 支那名畫選集. Kyōto: Nakajima Kyōeisha, Shōwa 2-4 [1927-1929]. vol. III
    Saitō, Etsuzō 齊藤悦藏 and Torajirō Naitō 內藤虎次郎. Tōan-zō shogafu 董盦蔵書畫譜. Ōsaka: Hakubundō, 1928. Reproduced: pl. 20
    Sirén, Osvald. A History of Later Chinese Painting. London: The Medici Society, 1938. I, Lists, 227
    Sirén, Osvald. Chinese Painting: Leading Masters and Principles. New York: Ronald Press, 1956. VII, Lists, 225.
    Edwards, Richard. The Field of Stones: A Study of the Art of Shen Chou (1427-1509). Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1962. Reproduced: pp. 77, 105, pl. 47-A
    Ho, Wai-kam, Sherman E. Lee, Laurence Sickman, and Marc F. Wilson. Eight Dynasties of Chinese Painting: The Collections of the Nelson Gallery-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, OH: Cleveland Museum of Art, in cooperation with Indiana University Press, 1980. Reproduced: cat. no. 151, p. 180
    Suzuki, Kei 鈴木敬. Chūgoku kaiga sōgō zuroku [中國繪畫總合圖錄 = Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Paintings], 第 1卷. アメリカ·カナダ篇 [= vol. 1 American and Canadian collections]. Tōkyō: Tōkyō Daigaku Shuppankai, 1982. Reproduced: A23-010, p. I-287
    Barnhart, Richard M. The Jade studio: masterpieces of Ming and Qing painting and calligraphy from the Wong Nan-pʻing collection. New Haven, Conn: Yale University Art Gallery, 1994. Reproduced: fig. 46, p. 142
    Chou, Ju-hsi and Anita Chung. Silent poetry: Chinese paintings from the collection of the Cleveland Museum of Art. Cleveland, OH: The Cleveland Museum of Art, 2015. Reproduced: pp. 245-251
  • Eight Dynasties of Chinese Painting. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art (November 7, 1980-January 4, 1981); The Cleveland Museum of Art (February 10-March 29, 1981); Tokyo National Museum (October 4-November 17, 1982).
  • {{cite web|title=Flowering Crab Apple|url=false|author=Shen Zhou|year=1500|access-date=15 July 2024|publisher=Cleveland Museum of Art}}

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