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Zhu Qizhen
(active late 16th-17th century)

“Landscape with Pavilion” 1598

Hanging scroll, ink on silk
152.0 x 48.5 cm. (59 3/4 x 19 1/8 in.)

“Three days before the full moon of the second lunar month of
the year 1598 during the Wanli reign-era, while on a boat on Zhe Lake
(in Jinshan prefecture, Jiangsu province), we suffered an ill wind but
even our fatigue was overcome by the scenic beauty. Zhu Qizhen.”

Artist’s seals:
Zhu Qizhen yin; Jiushan

In a scene that embodies the emotional essence of a tranquil lake or river shore, an empty pavilion awaits any traveler who would pause there for a moment to enjoy the peaceful solitude. The rock and earth forms here as well as the peaks rising above the distant shore are drawn and textured with strong and decisive strokes, lending an air of disciplined stability to the whole. Ink values are graded in subtle fashion to create a sense of spatial recession moving from fore to background, a movement that contributes to the great success of the general composition.

Of a type that originated during the Yuan dynasty, especially in the work of Ni Can (1301-1374), the composition is very well balanced, emphasizing the foreground area but placing it in a dynamic relationship with the distant mountains; considered as shapes in the frontal picture plane, the background forms a V-shaped configuration that appears to balance on the tip of the projecting branch.

The artist Zhu Qizhen is not recorded in standard historical sources but one of his seals used here, Jiushan or Nine Mountains, suggests that he was born in the city of that name located in the Xuyi district of Anhui province. This would place the painter within a cultural context dominated during the late 16th century by the theorist and artist Zhan Jingfeng (1528-1602). Zhan was a strong admirer of Ni Zan and in his own paintings often sought to emulate Ni in creating paintings that embodied an air of lofty refinement. Zhu Qizhen may thus have been a participant in the formation of the Anhui school of painting that was so influential during the 17th century.

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