Pine and Longevity

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Pine and Longevity (喬松仙壽圖)

Chen Hongshou (陳洪綬, 1599-1652), Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)

Hanging scroll, ink and colors on paper, 202.1 x 97.8 cm, National Palace Museum, Taipei

       The brushwork in this painting is solid and steady, the lines powerfully drawn with a centered brush, the colors bright and beautiful, and the composition unusual and unique. The body of the figure is large and stalwart with exaggerated facial features and a strange and eccentric appearance. The pine and rock forms are regulated, reflecting a strong interest in patterned decorativeness. This figure wearing a violet robe and red shoes in the painting is the person who signed himself “Lianzi (蓮子)” in the inscription: Chen Hongshou himself. Though there are many surviving works by Chen Hongshou, this is his only known self-portrait, making it naturally all the more precious.