Chen Zihe, calling himself the Untrammelled Immortal and the Mountain Man, was originally a sculptor. As a painter, his work is described by Ming and Qing critics as free and unrestrained, strange and hoarily rich, and he is spoken of in the same breath as the famed Wu Wei (1459-1508) and Guo Xu (1456 to 1532), suggesting Chen’s period of activity. The dynamism of the present painting originates with a background of ink wash upon which the three geese were then sculpted in darker ink with the reeds vigorously brushed in as if Chen were a calligrapher. Chen was greatly appreciated in Japan where another painting of the same title is still treasured today in the Myoshiji in Kyoto.
Chen Zihe [Ch’en Tzu-ho] 陳子和
(late 15th-16th century)
“Geese & Reeds in Moonlight” 芦雁圖
Hanging scroll, ink on silk
157.0 x 90.0 cm. (61 3/4 x 35 1/2 in.)
Inscription: “Chen Zihe.”
Artist’s seal: Pucheng Chen Xaixian in (“Seal of the Untrammeled Immortal Chen from Pucheng”)
”After (Tokugawa) Keiki (1837-1913), the Chūnagon from Hitosubashi, stayed in the Goten residence (in Higashi Honganji), he sent greetings and offered this present. Written during the third lunar month of the year 1863 of the Bunkyū era (1861-1863).”
Tokugawa Keiki (1837-1913)
Higashi Honganji, Kyoto
Private collection: Bouasse-Lebel
Objets d’Art d’Extreme Orient (catalogue of auction at the Hotel Drouot), 1949, lot 478.