Details & Cataloguing

Fine Classical Chinese Paintings

Hong Kong

Zhu Da (Bada Shanren) 1626-1705
with two seals of the artist
with one collector's seal of Lang Tingzuo (?-1696), one collector's seal of Gu Yunchen (1830-1899), one collector's seal of Lou Zhenyu (1866-1940), one collector's seal of Chen Peiqiu (1922-), one collector's seal of Xiao Ping (1942-) and one other collector's seal
Inscription at the mounting borders by Li Ruiqing (1827-1920), dated jiwei (1919) and with one seal of his; by Chen Peiqiu, dated gengyin (1920) and with three seals of hers; by Xiao Ping, dated jiawu (2014) and with two seals of his
ink and colour on paper, hanging scroll
199 by 56 cm. 78 3/8  by 22 in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report


Chinese Paintings V, Tokyo National Museum, October 1920


(1) Chinese Paintings V, Tokyo National Museum, October 1920
(2) Please refer to the Chinese literature

Catalogue Note

In the later years of his life, Bada Shanren experienced a slight change on his state of mind, where a hint of tranquillity and yearning for peace can be seen aside from his usual grudge, loneliness and grief. During this period, he favoured large-scale hanging scrolls, where he channelled his raw emotions through broad brushstrokes. Though there are so few strokes involved, they carry unfathomable depth and evokes lingering inexplicable emotions. Wildlife favoured by litterateurs, such as cranes, geese and mandarin ducks were the most common subjects in these works. Similar compositions or even identical works were commonplace due to requests from friends and customers; nonetheless, this in turn highlights the characteristics of his late artistic forms.

Boasting a size of over 6 ft tall by almost 2 ft wide, Geese by the Hibiscus can be seen as a prominent example. The work features vibrant colours and a simplistic yet well-balanced composition, capturing the joy of nature. Geese by the Hibiscus protrude and dangle from the cliff, exuberant with life. A goose retracts its neck and glares at the blossoms while sitting on and essentially becoming one with the hovering rock; such intricate position, being at ease despite amidst imminent danger, reflects the psyche of the painter. Moreover, resembling a collection of the same title in Shanghai Museum (fig.1), this work is also a large-scale hanging scroll featuring two geese at the bottom left, with one of which glaring at the dangling Geese by the Hibiscus. They possess such a vivid character, echoing the colophon at the mounting border by Li Ruiqing, "The composition is so well-calculated it fits right with the forms; One will never achieve this level without following his path and pursuing utmost spontaneity and refinement."

Passed on from one eminent provenance to another, Geese by the Hibiscus was well exhibited and catalogued in various publications, hereby chronologically presented. The work is stamped with a seal of Lang Tingzuo (act. 1644-1661), who would later be promoted to Viceroy of Jiangxi; it is possible Lang was acquainted with and acquired the work from the artist. After that, it was probably brought to Japan by epigrapher Luo Zhenyu, and then had a colophon written by famous scholar of late Qing era, Li Ruiqing, before ending up in the collection of Japanese collector Seki Shintaro. In 1920, renowned scholar and director of Imperial Household Museums of Japan, Mori Ogai (fig.2), issued an invitation for this work to be exhibited at the Imperial Household Museum of Tokyo (now Tokyo National Museum). The work was printed into a postcard, and was published in Bijutsu Ehagaki Vol.5. In 1935, the work was explicated by Yahata Sekitaro's feature essay "Bada Shanren the Mad Painter"(possible Japanese transcription: Kyou Gajin Hachidai sanjin), published in Denki: Meijin Tokushu Gou (Biographies: Celebrities Special Edition).

Relying on her expertise experience and her extensive research on Bada Shanren's habits of painting, inscriptions and seals, Chen Peiqiu concluded that this work should be one of the four-panel assemble depicting four seasons, this work being the third one depicting "autumn sights". This was agreed by Xiao Ping, who argued that this work was "one panel with missing companions". Nonetheless, this work has a clear and self-contained composition. As it comes with many similar standalone masterpieces, this work can be seen as a typical piece of Bada Shanren's late style.

Fine Classical Chinese Paintings

Hong Kong