Viewing Geese at the Orchid Pavilion

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Viewing Geese at the Orchid Pavilion (蘭亭觀鵝圖)

Qian Xuan (錢選, ca.1235-1305), Song Dynasty (960-1279)

Handscroll, ink and colors on paper, 24.7 x 82.1 cm, National Palace Museum, Taipei

       Qian Xuan, style name Shunju (舜舉), was a native of Wuxing (吳興), Zhejiang (浙江). One of the Eight Talents of Wuxing, he received the Presented Scholar (jinshi, 進士) degree as a provincial candidate in the Jingding era (景定, 1260-1264) but did not serve the Yuan after the fall of the Song. This handscroll illustrates the story of Wang Xizhi (王羲之, 307-365), the famous Jin "Sage Calligrapher," whose spirited style is said to have been inspired by viewing the sinuously long necks of geese. The rocks here were painted in straight and curving lines to make repeated patterns, as mineral blues and greens with ochre were added inside the outlines to create an archaic quality. There are also other copies that have survived through the ages, including one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

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Qian Xuan: Viewing Geese at the Orchid Pavilion