Bamboo in a Spring Thunderstorm (春雷轟起)
Tang Yin (唐寅, 1470-1524), Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
Folding fan mounted as an album leaf, ink on gold-flecked paper, 17.3 x 49.8 cm,
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
A popular subject of scholar-artists, bamboo was admired for its supple strength: like the principled man, it bends without breaking. Here Tang Yin painted a variety of bamboo called phoenix tail; dense and feathery, it bends gracefully like the long plumage of a phoenix. Using both wet and dry ink, he artfully suggested thick mists and heavily saturated branches of bamboo whose arcing forms echo the fan's shape. His accompanying poem contrasts the chaos of a deafening storm with the tranquillity of its aftermath:
The roar of spring thunder arouses the green bamboo,
Dragon whiskers sweep across the ground, along with long phoenix tails.
Looking up from the boat awning I play the flute,
A bright moon, filling the sky, shines in the Xiao and Xiang Rivers.