Poet on a Mountaintop

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Poet on a Mountaintop (杖藜遠眺)

Shen Zhou (沈周, 1427-1509), Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)

Album leaf, ink on paper, 38.7 x 60.3 cm, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri

       Shen Zhou exemplified literati painting in another way - his blending of poetry and painting, the arts of words and images. Many of Shen Zhou's paintings include poems of his own - many also include poems composed by friends.

       The painting below is one of Shen Zhou's most famous. The scholar alone in nature seems to be looking out not over a chasm of rocks and clouds, but directly at the poem that Shen Zhou has placed before him. The poem reads as follows:

       White clouds sash-like
            wrap mountain waists,
       The rock terrace flies in space
            distant, a narrow path.
       Leaning on a bramble staff
            far and free I gaze,
       To the warble of valley brook
            I will reply, whistling.

       (Translation from Indiana University.)


Replicas available:

38.7 x 60.3 cm - $229
Shen Zhou: Poet on a Mountaintop