After the Line "Idly Watching Children Catch Willow Flowers"

Chou Chen (ca. 1460-after 1535)AD 1368-AD 1644

National Palace Museum

National Palace Museum
Taipei, Taiwan

Chou Chen (style name Shun-ch'ing; Tung-ts'un, E-ch'ang san-jen), a native of Wu-chun (modern Soochow, Kiangsu), studied landscape painting from Ch'en Hsien (1405-1496), achieving the methods of Song (960-1279) painters, particularly the styles of Li Cheng (919-967), Kuo Hsi (ca. 1001-1090), Ma Yuan (fl. 1189-1225), and Hsia Kuei (fl. 1180-1124). He also excelled at figures with an archaic yet unusual style that is detailed yet free. His two most outstanding students were Tang Yin (1470-1523) and Qiu Ying (ca. 1494-1552).

Outside a hall in the shade of willows, a scholar watches three children trying to catch willow flowers in the spring breeze. The theme appears to be based on two lines of poetry. One by Po Chu-i reads, "Who is more at play than children, searching the spring breeze for willow flowers?" The other by Yang Wan-li reads, "I listlessly rise from my nap, idly watching children grasp at willow flowers." The composition here is dominated by the foreground. Like the Che School style, it derives from the Ma Yuan and Hsia Kuei tradition, but without the powerful brushwork. The style here is from the lyrical one of the Southern Song court. The "fine-line" figure painting of Chou's student Qiu Ying originates with the manner in this painting.


  • Title: After the Line "Idly Watching Children Catch Willow Flowers"
  • Creator: Chou Chen (ca. 1460-after 1535)
  • Date Created: AD 1368-AD 1644
  • Physical Dimensions: 116.6 x 63.5 cm
  • Type: Hanging scroll
  • Rights: National Palace Museum
  • Medium: Ink and colors on silk
  • Dynasty: Ming dynasty

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