Details & Cataloguing

Fine Classical Chinese Paintings

New York

Lan Ying 1585-1666
Colophons by Ni Yuanlu (1593-1644), signed Shining Ni Yuanlu, dated gengchen (1640), the twelfth lunar month, with three seals, ni yuan lu yin, hong bao, qie yuan yu gong; Fan Yunlin (1558-1641), signed Fan Yunlin, dated wuyin (1638), the ninth day of the eighth lunar month, with two seals, shi gong, guan yuan sou; Chen Jiru (1558-1639), signed eighty-one year old man Chen Jiru, with two seals, chen ji ru yin, chen mei gong shu hua ji; Yang Wencong (1596-1646), signed Jizhou Yang Wencong, with two seals, wen cong, long you shi; Yang Xueyuan, signed Jizhou Yang Xueyuan, with two seals, yang xue yuan yin, keng shi, gu chun yuan; Zhang Xueliang (1901-2001), signed Hanqing, dated the twenty-first year of the Republic of China (1932), the fourth lunar month
ink on paper, handscroll
49 by 1021.9 cm. 18 7/8 by 402 3/8 in.
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Previously in the collection of renowned painter Jin Cheng (1878-1926)
Previously in the collection of the legendary collector Zhang Xueliang (1901-2001)
Private American collection




Sotheby's Taipei, Fine Chinese Paintings from the Dingyuanzhai Collection, April 10, 1994, lot 114
This Single Feather of Auspicious Light: Old Chinese Painting and Calligraphy (7 Volumes), Sydney L. Moss, Ltd., London, 2010, vol II, pp. 170-194, p. 204


(1) Ni Yuanlu: If Mei Daoren (Wu Zhen, 1280-1354) could see this, he would certainly give one bow and one obeisance, bowing to its comprehension (of his style), and giving obeisance to its transformation (of his style). Every transformation he comprehends; thus he is excellent at copying (earlier works). He need only depict a reflection from within himself and this will suffice to retrieve the soul of another and lodge it in the painting. All who do so are like this.

(2) Fan Yunlin: Dong Xuanzai (Dong Qichang, 1555-1636) once said to me that all those who attempt to copy the paintings of Mei daoren (Wu Zhen) all use thick, heavy ink, but are simply indifferent in their capturing the fine essence of his true appearance. In my house there is collected a ‘Painting of a Noble Scholar among Ancient Trees’ by Mei dao-ren, which indeed has heavy ink richly deployed, and yet there is a delicacy consistent with the words of Xuanzai.

Now I have managed to see this hand scroll by Tian-shu (Lan Ying); if you were to place it side by side with the Noble Scholar picture, they would appear to have emerged from the same hand! If Xuanzai could see these two paintings, he would not be able to do better than to say that these two painters were acting as disciples, responding to the style of Jiang Guandao.

(3) Chen Jiru: Jiang Guandao had a painting of ‘A Painting of Ten Thousand Li of the Yangtze River’ which several times in texts has been stated to have been in the collection of Siweng (Dong Qichang), and the ‘teacher-of-painting’ to Mei Dao-ren. When one examines the painting and calligraphy of Jiang Guandao, one comes to realize that Lantian Shu (Lan Ying) has not purposelessly put brush to paper. If you say he is ‘imitating Zhong Gui (Wu Zhen)’, Zhong Gui himself would not have been willing to take issue, but would have said, ‘Tian-shu and I are both disciples of Master Jiang!

(4) Yang Wencong: Mei Daoren evaded the troops by travelling to Wutang, inscribing his own tombstone with the name, ‘Plum Blossom Monk’. When the rampaging troops (the Mongol invaders) arrived, his tomb with its plants and trees went unharmed. His knowledge and awareness were transcendent, and he had already penetrated to the level of an Immortal, so that every single brushstroke or ink-daub of his fully possesses the spirit of the Immortals. Tianshu (Lan Ying) was born in a country of Immortals and wondrous landscape, and was daily a companion to Immortal Pu (the great poet Lin Pu (967-1028), famed for his poems on plum blossoms, and for living at West Lake’s Solitary Mountain as a hermit) and ‘Xi Shi’ (West Lake itself, famously compared by Su Dongpo to the beautiful woman, Xi Shi). On the sunny side of Solitary Mountain he planted one thousand flowering plum trees, cleansing his ‘iron brush’ with their fragrant souls! I am certain that the Monk (Wu Zhen) has returned in this hand scroll, long to reside between Heaven and Earth, and that therefore there must be divine beings protecting it with their breath.

(5) Yang Xueyuan: In the autumn of the year yimao (1639) the air was crisp and clear, so I accompanied a friend into the Northern Mountain to select rocks, for a period of three days. And I then accompanied Tian-shu (Lan Ying) to go in search of Southern Mountain rocks, again taking a period of three days for this. Following this, I further climbed to Shengguo (Temple) in search of rocks, but most of them were overgrown with vines and weeds, so that not all of them were visible. In general, these tall mountains with their extremely dense appearance presented none other than the stylistic sphere of Dong and Ju (the mid to late 10th century masters Dong Yuan and Ju Ran), but in two spots - at Linglong and Shengguo Temples – in the midst of the (styles of the) Song artists there seemed to be mixed in some of the (style of the Yuan dynasty) Master of the Plum Blossom Hermitage (Wu Zhen).

Tianshu at first (studied) the Northern Song, but later gives his whole heart to old man Mei (Wu Zhen), as in his work he has absorbed completely the mountains and streams of the Wulin region. However, although Ling-long Temple now has (the monk) Yunna acting as master there, Shengguo Temple and the Shizhang Shrine are still dilapidated and overgrown, enshrouded in a cold mist. And now we have seen Tianshu use his brush and ink to open up the living visage of this scene, and the fragrant soul of old man Mei (Wu Zhen) can from time to time be summoned from its midst. As I happened to open up this Mei daoren scroll which he (Lan Ying) has done, after enjoying it I have inscribed this here.

Fine Classical Chinese Paintings

New York