作者之绘画：鐡线描染彩，画风苍秀古俊，用笔精熟而自如，心裁巧妙而细致，感情浑厚，表逹生动，韵味髙雅而潇洒。图画彩云动荡，髙山流水，松涛泉鸣，溪流横桥，虬枝苍劲，竹木蓬生。山有起伏之峻美气势，水有逥抱转换潺潺之容貌。长松荫坡，有髙贤之士，籍地操琴，相对趺座，一弹阮咸，一停琴听。停琴者席坐花斑虎皮之上（古装王公衣着），弹阮者席坐绣花纙缎之中，表现十分髙逸自在。松荫坡上，案置香桌，桌上一缸带勺，一花瓶，一香炉，一水杯，一火石；桌旁设一水缸，一炉灶，灶上设煑茶壶，灶旁盘中置炭。溪畔槐下，有一侍童绳桶汲水，腰缠夏日扑扇，姿态生动；献茶侍童捧盘安步以待，盘中置紫砂一壶一杯，神态却懝注音乐演奏者也。全幅塲景十分冩真逼人，有因有果，无不精彩感人之绝；真乃人趣中生意物趣，物趣中生意天趣，整幅图画给作者描绘得生气勃勃淋漓尽致。画之格局十分合理，一表宋元时代士气特征无疑，风格肯定。图画山水，取色青绿，简约精妙，风尚极为髙雅古俊，全幅十分精美之至，理念极富逻辑。由此可见作者不仅仅有着髙超之绘画技术和极为深厚之文化修养，而且表明作者极富生活情趣。在历史上, 赵孟俯是处迷乱中于己之抱负,提倡“作画贵有古意”之主张,刻意追求社会和谐,这“古意”就是中华民族传承之文化，此乃内涵非常。赵孟俯是个与时俱进重现实写生求新之画家,迫于当时所处形势之无奈,于实际情况中表现出众知慧和才华,用心何其之良苦。查考中国《元史》赵孟俯于元代至大三年(即公元壹仟叁佰壹拾年)前后期间,正值元朝廷任命赵孟俯为集贤直学士行江浙等处提举官职, “统诸路、府、州、县学校、祭祀、教养、钱粮之事及考校呈进著述文字”（据《元史》卷九十一百官七）。赵孟俯则利用公职之便,遍游江浙各地,广交文人学士,始终为抱负呕心沥血地奔走而汗颜。在艺术创作上,此阶段乃赵孟俯最旺盛时期,故而有不少之书画原作一直流传至今,成为海内外各大博物馆及私人之珍贵藏品。所谓赵孟俯之仕元,称为“荣际五朝、名满四海”,艺术成就“上下五百年,纵横一万里,举无其匹”,乃无愧之事实。按实物见长之推测和实事求是之文史记录的考究，赵孟俯至大三年秋七月在大都寓庐所作之“松阴高士图”,正是表现他自我情操之历史写照或者记载以往知己好友相处之情景,象征着作者对人民的态度，是一种含蓄着和谐的奥秘而又直率之艺术表态。诗画中哲理云云。
〈一〉画首作者题诗落款处，有朱文斯篆四字印一方：印文为“赵氏子昂”，印文可辩识。《考注：呈蒙恩依照吴门孝友书画家、鉴藏家王先生季迁（美籍华人）老大人编著之“明清画家印鉴”一书，所集录之照相制版范本，参考对照之元代赵孟俯书画印鉴收藏图谱，无疑问可言。另借鉴清代翁方钢题跋〈唐临右军二帖〉曰: “每观赵文敏真迹,必验其印,此‘赵氏子昂红文钢印，其上边不甚平正’，‘子'字篆刻圈之项，其靠上铜边，偏左偏右，皆有微凹入内之痕方为真者。以此鉴定赵迹，万无一失。今此印‘子’字篆圈上顶边之偏右微凹，而其偏左处上平未凹者。铜质用久则渐凹，此前数年之迹也。”。另亦借鉴上海博物馆编印，中国文物出版社出版之“中国书画家印鉴款识”一书，参考对照其中收藏元代赵孟俯书画款识印鉴风格，其印刷照相制版之范本，无疑问可言。 》
〈三〉画尾左下角落处，有朱文斯篆六字印贰方：其下一方为“史氏日鉴堂藏”，印文可识辩。《考注：鉴阅（清）“石渠宝笈” 初篇（七七四——七七五）文载有注录“史氏日鉴堂藏”之钤印，诸如：“元·吴镇夏山欲雨图”卷首可见；“宋·马逺江山万里图”卷背可见；皆有注录文载可考。 》
〈四〉画尾右下角落处，有篆印贰方：其上一方为白文汉印“史鑑之章”，印文可辩识。《考注：鉴阅“清秘藏·叙赏鉴家”文载，见歴代古人著名赏鉴家名录，有“史鑑”其人, 史鑑,字号：明古,西村人,西村逸史；亦见民国版“中国画家大辞典”文载，“史鑑”（明）史谨孙，居太仓，字子昭，后以字行，工山水，有祖风 （太仓州志，金陵瑙事，今世说，无声诗史。）。亦见（清）“石渠宝笈”初篇（七七四上）文载注录，“史鑑跋宋·马远江山万里图”钤印有“史鑑之章”。史鑑乃明代著名书画家赏鉴家。 》
〈五〉画尾右下角落处，有篆印贰方：其下一方为朱文汉印“明古氏”，印文可识辩。《考注：鉴阅（清）“石渠宝笈”初编（七七四上）注录“宋·马远江山万里图”卷背有“明古氏” 钤印之文载可查考（注：“宋·马逺江山万里图”卷，现藏中国辽宁省博物馆）。 》
《德聚號》【补拙山房】汤傅明(汤古氏John Ton)定稿撰著于公元贰仟零壹拾壹年伍月贰拾肆日中国 北京。
An Appreciation of Zhao Mengfu’s Painting Entitled
“Graceful Literati under the Shade of Pines”
(Also named “Enjoying ‘Yuan’ Music with the Zither in His hands”)
---By John Ton, at Manhattan, New York City, USA, SPRING 1998
A master painter,Zhao Mengfu ( 1254--1322 AD ) was the 11th generation of the direct descendants of Zhao Kuangyin—the founding emperor of the Song Dynasty (960--1279 ). Zhao’s original home was in Zhu County in Hebei Province, but later moved to Wuxing County of Huzhou Prefecture in Zhejiang Province.Zhao Mengfu styled himself Zi Ang, and his alternative names included Songxue (Snow Pine), Oubo, Jiayinren, Shui-jing-gong-daoren (Crystal Palace Daoist), Song-xue-daoren (Snow Pine Daoist). He was also called Zhao Wenming, Zhao Wuxing, Zhao Jixian, Zhao Xueshi( Scholar Zhao ), Zhao Hanlin ( Academician Zhao ), Zhao Wangsun ( Zhao, the descendant of the imperial family ), Zhao Weigong (Duke of Wei) and Zhao Chengzhi by later generations. After Kublai Khan overthrew the Song Dynasty and established the Yuan Dynasty (1206--1368 AD ), he tried hard to recruit talents in seclusion. On the recommendation of Cheng Ju, who was a censor in the Yuan court, Zhao Mengfu was first appointed a position in the Military Department, then a director in the Department of Justice, chamberlain of royal decree in the Imperial Academy, honorable Minister and Duke of Weigou. After his death, he was conferred the posthumous title “Wengming” (which means an elegant literary man) by the Emperor.
As Zhao Mengfu was an imperial family member of the former dynasty, his acceptance to be an official in the Yuan Dynasty caused much criticism among the rank and file, so he often felt depressed. To please himself, playing musical instruments drawing painting and exercising calligraphy became his sensible choice. He studied landscapes, portraits, flowers and birds. His calligraphy was considered first class in the Yuan Dynasty; his painting of his own typical style had great influence on later artists. His published books include notes on studying Shangshu (a book by Confucius), the Fundamentals of Qin (a stringed musical instrument), the History of Seals, a Collection of Essays at Songxue Studio, etc.
The strongly colored painting (50cm x 156cm) is basically a freehand brushwork of landscape and figures. On top there is a poem in Zhao’s own handwriting, which runs as follows:
“Woods by the brook should be the summer resort for immortals,
The distant hills seem dustless from the pine trees where we sit;
They can be compared to smart philosophers of Nature
Who always keep themselves away from worldly disputes. ”
The poem is followed by his signature “Zi Ang, painted in his residence in Dadu, July 3rd year of Zhida” (1310 AD). It is clear that the painting was executed when Zhao was 57 years old. According to Mr. Xu Pingfang’s research (Mr. Xu is the director of China Archaeology Association), Dadu was the capital of Yuan Dynasty, it is within the city proper of Beijing. The eastern and western walls of present Beijing were also the old city walls of Dadu, but its southern wall was along the present Chang’an Street, its northern wall was around the earthen wall ruins between Deshengmen Gate and Andingmen Gate.
The author’s inscription is in running script, the brush movement is mature, graceful and consistent, showing the style of Master Wang Xizhi who is a famous calligrapher in the Jin Dynasty ( 256 – 420 AD ). In comparison with Zhao Mengfu’s handwriting on page 54 in “ Verification of Fake Ancient Calligraphy and Paintings” by Xu Bangda, ( researcher of Beijing Palace Museum) entitled “A Seasonal Greeting in Late Autumn ” from Madame Guan Daosheng ( Zhao’s wife, Zhao wrote the letter in his wife’s name to her family ) and “ Genuine and Fake Illustrated Handbook of Chinese Every Dynasty’s Calligraphy and Paintings” (compiled by Mr. Yang Renkai and published by Liaoning Pictorial Publishing House, 1966 ), entitled “ Zhao Mengfu’s Autumn Voice Essay in Running Script” (True Specimen), anyone who has some knowledge of calligraphy can see the inscription on “ Graceful Literati under the Shade of Pine Tree” is Zhao’s autograph. In addition, the parallel signature style on the painting was a fashion of the Song Dynasty.
As for the details of the painting, you can see colored clouds drifting in the sky, against the heaven are a chain of magnificent mountains, from which overflows a clear brook with a wood bridge crossing over the stream. By the winding river are some hardy old pines, which symbolize the spirit of life. Under the shade of aged pines sit two graceful literati, facing each other. The one who holds the qin (an ancient musical instrument similar to zither) sits on a rug made of tiger skin, he seems to enjoy the melody of his friend who is settled on an embroidery damask rug and playing the “yuan” (an ancient musical instrument similar to guitar). Both of them look quite happy and relaxed. On the slope is an incense table; on the table are a jug with a ladle in, a vase, an incense burner and a cup. By the table are a water jar and a stove. On the stove is a teapot. Some charcoal can be seen in a tray by the table. Beside the stream a pageboy is fetching water from it. A fan is seen tucked in his waist. And his posture is quite vivid. Another pageboy is holding a tray with a pot and a cup on it; he seems ready to serve tea while gazing at the music player. The whole scene is vivid and touching, the brush lines are skillful, delicate and full of vigor, showing a kind of high taste. The composition is also well-balanced, a typical example of the literati style in the Song and Yuan Dynasties.
It is clear that the painter has not only amazing skills in Chinese painting, rich culture cultivation but also romantic interest about life. The scene seems to be a self-expression of the painter’s life, or the wonderful moments when he was with some bosom friends. Certain mysterious air permeates in the harmonious and friendly communication, which is suggestive of the philosophy of life.
The landscape painting was executed mainly in green and blue colors in classic style, quite sketchy yet exquisite. Although it was made more than 688 years ago, the color remains fresh and eye-catching. It is no exaggeration at all to say that the painting is one of the best-preserved paintings and a rare treasure of arts for studying the ancient culture of the Yuan Dynasty.
Examining the back of the silk painting with a 30 times magnifier, one can find stains of yellow grains at the edge of lining, the secret of mounting technique before the Ming dynasty could be seen here. It also gives credible support to the long history of the painting.
According to the book “ History of Mounting” by Jiang Zhuo published in the Ming Dynasty, before the Ming Dynasty workshops always used the yellowish soil at the western hillside of Mt. Zhongshan (now called Zhijinshan) in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province as the raw material for coloring the silk base and mounting the painting. However, when the Ming dynasty replaced the Yuan dynasty and built its capital in Nanjing, Mt. Zhongshan was under the protection of the imperial court. Digging clay around the mountain was strictly forbidden. As a result, the yellowish clay for mounting became rare and expensive. Gradually, workshops had to use oak seeds as the substitute for dyeing the paper and mounting. This dyeing and mounting method is by no means fraudless and after some years variegated spots would show up on the silk. It’s something very annoying to collectors.
Due to long years, minor fractures or peelings could be seen on parts of the silk surface, which are natural and exempt from the possibility of forgery; except that, the whole painting has been preserved intact. Examining the texture of the silk through a magnifier, one could clearly see its composition: both the warp and woof are single thread, only the woof is thicker, the vein structure is flat and smooth. These features are consistent with the silk produced during the Song and Yuan Dynasties. Because of long years, the surface of the silk thread is quite smooth without down. The enlargement of the section of the fractured thread shows that its interior and the exterior are of the same color, which is in agreement with the rules of verifying authentic paintings.
According to “ The Painting Book of Liurujushi” by Master Tang Yin ( also named Tang Beihu, a well-known painter of the Ming Dynasty ), he quoted the words of Master Wang Sishan as proof, “ In general, the silk made in the Yuan Dynasty is similar to that of the Song Dynasty. But the silk produced in Mizhou City with one shuttle loom was tough and smooth. Zhao Zi’ang , Sheng Zizhao and Wang Ruoshui liked to use the Mizhou silk to execute their paintings. ”
An analysis of the pigments on the painting indicates that color soaking is quite normal; there exists no sign of superficial coloring. And the intensity of color is sensibly graded, which manifests the artist’s good grounding and refined brushwork. Judging from the style, the artist is of great academic attainments, a connoisseur could hardly pick out any defective or faulty stroke in the painting. Observing through the magnifier, the pigment contains grains of different size. It makes us wonder how our ancestors used indigenous method to handle the dyestuffs. With the progress of science, refined pigments were gradually introduced into China from overseas since the reign of Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty (1616—1911). In comparison, the paint made from modern method is quite different from that of local method; the grains in the latter are naturally coarser.
On the painting we can see five seals:
Number 1 On top of the painting at the location of the signature, there is one seal with four characters “ zhao-shi-zi-ang “, which are clear and recognizable. The red legend is in smaller (or simplified) seal script. According to Weng Fanggang (scholar in the Qing Dynasty), when commenting on “Two Copybooks Copying Master Wang Xizhi’s Calligraphy”, “When verifying the authentic work of Zhao Wenming, to check his seal is very important. His red-legend chop with the four characters of “zhao-shi-zi-ang” was made of bronze whose top sideline was not straight, especially the part on both sides of the character “ Zi”. If the sideline around here is slightly sunken, one can probably make sure that it is Zhao’s authentic work. Now, as far as this work is concerned, the sideline on the right above “ Zi” is slightly sunken, while the respective left sideline shows no sign of sinking, it is due to the fact that the metal has not been worn out. Therefore the work was done many years before.” After checking with the book “ Seals of Ming and Qing Dynasties Artists” compiled by Ms. Kong Da and Wang Jiqian, we got a clear positive answer from the photo version of a chart in which Zhao Mengfu’s seals of different periods are collected. Another book entitled “Seal Inscriptions of Chinese Painters” compiled by Shanghai Museum and published by China Cultural Relics Press also verifies the authenticity of the seal on the painting.
Number 2 At the lower left side of the painting, one can see two seals with one above the other in red legend of small seal script. The first seal (Number 2) contains six Chinese characters: “Qian-xiu-feng-jia-zhen-chang”, which means “collected by Qian Xiufeng”.
Number 3 The lower one (Number 3) also has six characters in red letter of small seal script: “Shi-shi-ri-jian-tang-chang”, which means collected in Rijiantang of Shi family. According to the records in “ shi-qu-bao-ji” of the Qing Dynasty, the seal can also be seen in both “ Imminent Rain over Mt. Xia by Wu Zheng ( Yuan Dynasty ) ” and another painting of the Song Dynasty “ Ten thousand Li Mountains and Rivers ” by Ma Yuan.
Number 4 In the lower right corner of the painting there are also two seals but in white letter of seal script. The first seal (Number 4) says: “Shijian’s seal”. When checking with the name list of famous connoisseurs in painting from the book “An Account of Connoisseurs” (Qing Dynasty), we found Shijian’s name. “A Grand Dictionary of Chinese Painters” has the following about him: Shi Jian is the grandson of Shi Jin who lived in Taicang County with Zizhao as his given name. He studied landscape paintings and was also a calligrapher, which is a tradition of the family. In another book published in the Qing Dynasty named “Shi-qu-bao-ji”, we found “Shijian’s seal” on the painting “Ten thousand Li Mountains and Rivers” by Ma Yuan of the Song Dynasty.
Number 5 In the lower right corner of the painting is the fifth seal in red legend of seal script. The script is clear and recognizable, which reads “Ming Gu’s”. According to the records of Shi-qu-bao-ji, the seal of “Ming Gu’s” can be found at the back of the painting “Ten Thousand Li Mountains and Rivers” by Ma Yuan of the Song Dynasty.
The red ink paste used in the Song and Yuan Dynasties could be divided into three types: the paste with honey, the paste with only water and the paste with oil. Generally speaking, the color of red ink paste with honey is rather deep and thick, while the one with only water is rather pale and thin, the effects of both being unsatisfactory. It was not until the late period of Southern Song Dynasty that red ink paste made with castor oil and moxa first appeared. Compared with the former ink paste, the Chinese characters in oil are clearer, heavy and lusterless. It is said Zhao Mengfu once used sesame oil and cinnabar to make his ink paste, but so far no documents have been found to support this saying. In spite of it, the old tradition continued during the Ming Dynasty. However, during the Qing Dynasty, the “Eight Treasure” red ink paste was invented, the seal’s color is deep and bright, but not gaudy, it has luster and is quite eye-catching.
In the Song and Yuan Dynasties, craftsmen usually made the seals, and the style of seal design was stereotyped. What’s more, the artisans often chose copper as the material (on a few occasions, animal horns were also used). Hence, the seal style is rather sturdy; the seal script regular and there was no defect, showing a kind of downright craftsmanship. The seal cutting techniques also developed gradually in the Ming and Qing Period. Various stone materials were widely used to make chops, and their styles were varied; imperfect with purpose or simple and unsophisticated styles were commonly seen. Seal design of all forms appeared regularly. In spite of the changes in style and design in history, the connoisseurs have no difficulty to underline the time of a seal, since a number of modern tool books have been published, from which the criterion for judgement can be easily drawn.
In my opinion the painting which integrates poetry, calligraphy and drawing together represents an innovation of the scholar painting school in the Yuan Dynasty. In scrutinizing, one can see that those lines are graceful, the posture of figures lifelike and the composition concise and exquisite. No doubt it is the masterpiece of Zhao Mengfu, who executed it in his prime of manhood. And it is absolutely impossible to be a fake by somebody!
Our inference from the seals on the painting is that the painting was passed down from the Yuan Dynasty to the Ming Dynasty and then the transfer record became oblivious. For a long period of time, it was preserved among the folks and the appreciation activities were scarce and not open; therefore the circle that knew this painting was very small. For this reason, the masterpiece was perfectly saved till present day and reappears before the public.
That the painting does not have any annotation of ancient connoisseur as some aged art works do prove their unusual situations. The collector of this painting must have certain reason to stay away from the public. In the hundreds of years from the Yuan to the Ming and Qing Dynasties, turmoils were frequent due to political changes; the few people who witnessed this treasure painting certainly knew its value. To avoid authorities and suspicion, the best thing was reticence; to them, the fewer knew the treasure, the better. Another inference drawn from the author’s background is that the painter seemed to have a tacit mutual understanding with the receiver of this painting and his inheritors. Surely they had a harmonious relationship. That is why they did not want any outsiders to involve in this painting, to make this art work known to the public. The content in the painting also shows the lofty aspiration. (Note: the painting was executed by Zhao Mengfu for the Qian family after Qian Xuan had passed away for eight years.) Huang Gongwang, an ancient scholar said, “The poem should always match the painting. Those who know the poem will understand the painting.” Interpreting the poem while comparing its meaning with the scene in the painting, we have no difficulty to know the painter’s heart, as he had experienced the devastating changes from a member of the imperial family of the Song Dynasty to be an official of the Yuan court.
While consulting the book “Shan-hu-wang” (Coral Net) published in the Qing Dynasty, we discovered a few lines about Zhao’s works, which said: In the 5th year of Dade (1302) of the Yuan Dynasty, Zhao Mengfu executed a painting entitled “Enjoying Yuan Music with the Zither in His Hands”. And Xiang Zijing (Ming Dynasty) wrote an annotation on it, which says “Zhao Chengzhi made this picture of holding the zither to enjoy the Yuan music”. (Note: Zhao Chengzhi is another name of Zhao Mengfu) The inscription with signature on this double sized hanging scroll says: Executed in the 8th month (Autumn) of the 5th year of Dade by Zhao Mengfu of Wuxing County”. The painting was completed when Zhao was 48 years old and there is no record to show that he wrote any poem on the painting. Our calculation is that: this painting was done just one year before the death of Qian Xuan. Qian and Zhao were from the same town. And in his early years, the young Zhao Mengfu once learned drawing from Qian Xuanfeng. Qian Xuanfeng (also called Qian Xuan ) was proficient in music. In his time, the folks of Wuxing said, only those who were formally instructed by Qian Xuan could be called a qualified painter.
According to “Shi-qu-bao-ji” Volume III, “Zhao Mengfu’s Graceful Literati under the Shade of Pines, silk, heavily colored, 87cm x 215cm; two persons sitting under the pines on a slope, with a clear stream flowing over the rocks. One gentleman is playing the ‘Yuan’; the other is listening attentively while holding his zither. A pageboy stands aside with a pomegranate in the tray waiting to serve, by Zhi Ang on the 5th day of 3rd month of the 7th year of Yanyou’s reign, i.e. 1320AD when the painter was 67 years old.” But this painting does not have Zhao’s seal on it. According to Mr. C.C. Wang, a specialist in this field commented that he has never seen any large heavily colored painting of Zhao Mengfu’s after Zhao was over 60. (Beginning from the 1st year of Yanyou)
My opinion about the above-mentioned painting: Since it only has Zhao’s signature without his seal, it might be a dissatisfactory work of Zhao, or an imitation of somebody. It is known that Qiu Ying, a famous painter in the Ming Dynasty made three paintings of “Enjoying ‘Yuan’ Music with the Zither in His Hands”. With a glance of the painting, you will know they are based on the original work of Zhao Mengfu. In 1994, the Hongkong based auction company Guardian sold a painting of Qiu Ying entitled “Graceful Literati under the Pines”, silk, colored, 43cm x 101 cm. The painting has two seals of the author and two collector’s seals. The composition of this painting is very close to that of Zhao’s, but the brush strokes show Qiu’s style which is different from Zhao’s original. It is clear that the perspectives and life interest expressed in this painting of Qiu Ying are far beneath that of the original by Zhao Mengfu in the 3rd year of Zhida (1312). Guangzhou Arts Museum collected another similar work by Qiu Ying, but the two pageboys are missing in the painting and the style is a combination of the techniques of Master Zhou Cheng and Master Wen Zhengming (both are well-known painters in the Min Dynasty).
According to another authoritative book “Textual Criticism of Ancient Fake Paintings” by Mr. Xu Bangda of Beijing Palace Museum, the painting “Enjoying ‘Yuan’ Music with the Zither in His hands” is a strong colored hanging scroll of silk, in which two gentlemen in ancient costume sit face to face under the pines on a slope. One man on the right in red robes sits with his back against the audience, playing the ‘Yuan’ fiddle, while the other man in white garment sits in the center enjoying the music. In front of him is a long zither. The figures’ robes are sketched in “iron-wire lines”, the rock veins are like hemp ropes and colored in azurite. The slope is nicely dotted with grass and wild flowers. On the top left corner is the title of the painting “ Gao-yi-tu”(high leisure picture) in running script, followed by a seal in positive red legend “ Great Elegance”. In the bottom right corner is the painter’s note: for the honorable gentleman of Bodong, in the 5th month of the 11th year of Dade, Zi Ang; it is followed by two seals “Zhao-zi-ang-shi” and “Tian-shui-prefecture-book-mark”, both in positive legend. The 11th year of Dade is 1307 AD when Zhao was 54. Despite the fact that the sketch lines in the painting are rather unrestrained, yet here and there you will see the forceful portrayal character of Master Sheng Mao (a painter in the Yuan dynasty ) ,which is quite different from Zhao Mengfu’s style. The inscription in Zhao’s handwriting is a bit shaky and the seals are also doubtful. Obviously it is a reproduction of Mr. Sheng Mao.
Mr. Chen Shifa (a contemporary artist) also collected a painting of “Gao-yi-tu” (high leisure picture) by Zhao Mengfu. The trees and figures are basically the same as the one kept in the Palace Museum with only a few mountains added in the distant background, yet its brushwork and color are inferior to the painting of the Palace Museum. Mr. Sheng Mao’s “Graceful Literati under the Shade of Pines” can be seen in an album of paintings kept in the Osaka City Museum of Japan. Given the above facts, you are free to draw a conclusion about the relationship between Sheng Mao and the painting of “Graceful Literati under the Shade of Pines”.
Tang Dai, a famous painter in the Qing dynasty, was fervent admirer of Zhao Mengfu. According to the records in “shi-qu-bao-ji” (A Treasure Book of Stone Canal) and “mi-dian-zhu-lin” (A Secret Hall in Jewelry Forest), he copied Zhao Mengfu’s landscapes in Zhao’s brush styles. But he usually made it clear in the annotation, such as: “Playing the Zither under the Pines—a duplicate of Zhao Mengfu’s original, his humble disciple Tang Dai”. Also in the book “A Secret Hall in Jewelry Forest”, we found records about his majesty emperor Qianlong’s painting entitled “Graceful Literati under the Shade of Pines drawn by His Majesty”. The painting was done on Xuande paper in ink and wash. On top of the painting is a poem, which reads:
Reclining on white boulders, whistling in the green woods;
With wine cup in hand, human beings are close to immortals;
The murmuring stream would wash clean your ears,
The prevailing wind would brush fine your hairs,
No need to bring your seven-string zither,
The host will play the refreshing melody;
Then, you’ll laugh at those in the throne,
How many of them know the pleasure of recluse life?
The court of Han emperors can’t be made of gold,
It won’t take much talking to convince you,
Beyond the verdant pinewood, you’ll find charming abode
Don’t grumble you’re lonely, colored clouds are your companions.
The postscript says: “The autumn sky suddenly gets fine after an overcast. The trees quiver in the wind, composing a symphony of fresh melody. In such a mood, I executed this painting of “Graceful Literati under the shade of Pines”. When it has been finished, I can feel the cold tides surge up to the sky, singing together with the whispering spring. The music seems to have leaped up from the paper. On the 24th day of the 7th month, Jiazi year, His Imperial Pen. ” The postscript is followed by two seals of Emperor Qianlong. This hanging scroll of the Emperor is 122 cm in length and 51 cm in width. From the above discussion, one can perceive the profound influence of Zhao Mengfu’s painting “Enjoying ‘Yuan’ Music with the Zither in His hands” in the long history of Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties.
On the fakes’ tricks from ancient to modern times
It can be said that all the fakes in ancient and modern times belong to the category of low moral and shallow culture roots. The means that the fakers regularly used can be summed up as follows: copying, imitation, modeling, fabrication, modification, replenishment, deletion and cutting apart, etc. As a result, the colors they applied were often frivolous, the brush movements looked stiff, faulty strokes frequently occurred, rigid sequence of brushwork could easily be seen, which are usually monotonous. They never have such creative idea as mind and soul working together as the great master painters did. The fake may have the shape of the original, but it never gets the spirit, as well as the exquisite and logic composition of the whole painting. As a rule, the fakes could not get rid of their own styles. They always rack their brains to make others believe them. “Stealing the sky and putting up a sham moon”, “Nipping off the head and cutting off the tail” and “knocking different things together are their habitual practice. Sometimes, they would put the genuine seal and the master’s calligraphy on a fake painting. At other times, they would change the title and add superfluous things on the painting—such as the annotations of ancient celebrities and the seals of the imperial family and nobles in order to gain credit. To hoodwink people, the fakers also smoke the painting, color it old, or purposely make it incomplete and broken. Their intention is clear—to cover up their tricks and get money by deception. But in the modern time with advanced technology, their tricks can be easily uncovered, especially those who fabricate the works of famous ancient masters, because they have conspicuous features and the fakes could hardly bear the scrutiny of experts.
In summary, with the teachings of ancient masters on fake identification and advice of contemporary scholars and experts, we have examined relative historical documents and studied every aspect of the painting “Enjoying ‘Yuan’ Music with the Zither in His hands” by Zhao Mengfu in the 7th month of the 3rd year of Zhida (Yuan Dynasty) in the light of modern science, namely:
Features of Zhao’s calligraphy
Forms of annotations
Position of various seals
Shape of seal scripture
Seal carving styles of the day
Differences of red ink paste made in different periods
Structure differences of the silk made in different times
Variation of paints and their application in different times
Styles of the painting
Background of the author
Study of the connoisseurs’ seals
Study of similar works made in later times
Master C.C. Wang, a well-known contemporary connoisseur and collector living in New York, after careful examination of the painting made the remark that “Mr. Yu He was not good at painting while Mr. Qiu Ying was not adept in calligraphy. As far as this work of Zhao’s is concerned, the calligraphy， painting and stamp are of the same year.”
We have checked recently published “Records of Vicissitudes of National Treasures---A Study of the Catalogue of Lost Paintings from the Imperial Palace” compiled by Mr. Yang Renkai, this painting is not in the catalogue.
Notes for your reference:
Yu He (1307 – 1382), born in Tongjiang and lived in Qiantang of Zhejiang Province, his courtesy name was Zizhong and also known as Zizhi. He was talented in poetry and calligraphy, and his handwriting is quite close to that of Master Zhao Mengfu’s. Some busybody made use of it to match with Zhao Mengfu’s inscription; as a result, many people took it for Zhao’s calligraphy without careful verification..
Qiu Ying (1499 – 1561), Born in Changzhou, he styled himself Shifu, also known by his literary name shizhou. He was the Imperial Court Painter of Ming Dynasty (1368 –1644) and good at figures,ladies and landscapes.