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Hsu Wen (later 18th-early 19th century) 許文

‘Flowers, Birds, and Animals’

Album of 12 leaves, ink and color on silk
21.2 x 31.4 cm. (8 1/2 x 12 3/8 in.)

Collector’s seals:
Yu-i-huan fu-fu chien-shang chih-chang; Shih-ts’ui te-pen-kuei chien-pao chih-yin

(See writeup below.)


1) ‘The second and third months

are when these blossom best.

Plucked and placed in a book

in winter when stuck in the hair

there will still be lingering fragrance.

Done after Lu Pao-shan’s (Lu Chih) drawing from life, an extant piece of jade.

Hsu Wen, called Pu-lo-sheng.’ Pu-lo-sheng

2) ‘Hsu Hsi of the Northern Sung painted medicinal flowers and herbs and truly captured the flavor of the untamed wilderness. Pu-lo-sheng followed him in the Hai-shan Hall.’ Hua-wen

‘Scholar-officials cannot go a single day without knowing this pleasure. I painted in the spirit of Huang Chun-ching’s saying. Pu-lo Wen.’ Hua Wen

4) ‘Once met and then again

calls for rush mats and goblets of wine;

boys and girls in green and red have what to bother them?

Tying up artemisia and inserting pomegranate,

it is truly like a painting.

I followed Shen Ch’ing-men (Shen Shih) in applying the color. Pu-lo-sheng painted this in the
Hai-shan Hall.’ Pu-lo-sheng; Hua Wen

5) ‘About these I once listened

to the tassels of the pods;

Protecting from the wind as that ascends,

like old mountain garments.

I followed the ideas of the Fisherman on Cloudy Streams (Yun Shou-p’ing?),

Hsu Wen, called Pu-lo.’ Pu-lo-sheng; Hua Wen

6) ‘Reclusive birds in the bamboo play with similar thoughts. I followed the ideas of Liu-ju Chu-shih
(T’ang Yin). Hsu Wen, called Pu-lo.’ Pu-lo-sheng

7) ‘Many thanks to the purifying river

that people have not touched;

Amidst rain it still provides

an umbrella for the ducks.

Following the painting-style of the lady from Ho Country. Hsu Wen, called Pu-lo.’ Hua Wen

8) ‘I Yuan-chi once did a landscape called ‘Beak and Claws.’ Its conception was fierce and moving, but people didn’t pay attention. In play I here imitated him. Hsu Wen, called Pu-lo-sheng.’ Pu-lo-sheng

9) ‘Provisions for a gentleman. I followed the drawing-from-life style of the

Master of the Ou-hsiang Hall (Yun Shou-p’ing.) Wen, called Pu-lo-sheng.’ Hua Wen

10) ‘Cold birds perch unsteadily,

the moonlit tree’s shadow begins to slant.

I followed the painting conception of T’ang Chieh-yuan (T’ang Yin). Hsu Wen, called

Pu-lo-sheng.’ Pu-lo-sheng

11) ‘I once remembered that the night before

I had been in a drunken stupor,

Offering incense beneath the flowers,

I strike my red heart.

Hsu Wen, called Pu-lo.’ Pu-lo-sheng; Hua-wen

12) ‘In the small courtyard among the autumn wu-t’ung trees,

cicadas complain about the approaching cold;

The wind brings, in the late afternoon,

the sounds of its leaves about to fall. Hsu Wen, called Pu-lo.’ Pu-lo-sheng

Hsu Wen, also known as Hsu Hua and Hsu Hua-wen, hao Ch’ing-lai or Lai-ch’ing, and also Pu-lo-sheng, (‘Student who helps the wisteria’), was from Jen-ho, the modern city of Hangchou in Chekiang province. At the age of fourteen be began study of painting with Hsi Kang (1746-1803) from the same district. Blessed with natural talent, he painted landscapes, female figures, f lowers, bamboo and rocks that were not copies or imitations but rather had brushwork possessing a heavenly flavor. ‘Domineering and boastful, he turned white eyes (of distain) on visitors. Addicted to drinking wine, he died at the age of only thirty- one…'[1] The roster of names mentioned here by Hsu Wen includes most of the eminent Sung, Ming, and early Ch’ing specialists in the field of bird, flower, and animal painting. The style of this album suggests that he was most influenced by the elegant and fluid style Yun Shou-p’ing (1633-1690).


1. Chung-kuo Mei-shu -chia Jen-ming Tz’u-tien, Shanghai, 2006, p. 941.


fig 2n

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