Lady Xuanwen Giving Instruction on the Rites of Zhou

Chen Hongshou1638

The Cleveland Museum of Art

The Cleveland Museum of Art
Cleveland, United States

This painting by Chen Hongshou depicts the story of Xuanwen Jun, or Lady of Literary Propagation, at a venerable age, instructing young scholars on the Confucian classics. It was painted for Chen’s aunt in celebration of her 60th birthday.

Chen’s painting style is archaic in the use of fine outlines and brilliant coloring with mineral pigments. In depicting the figures, he uses the “iron-wire” brush style (fine, even lines) with deliberate control. The faces are elongated and exaggerated. A few ritual bronzes lend the scene an antique flavor.

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  • Title: Lady Xuanwen Giving Instruction on the Rites of Zhou
  • Creator: Chen Hongshou (Chinese, 1598/99–1652)
  • Date Created: 1638
  • Physical Dimensions: Image: 172.8 x 55.7 cm (68 1/16 x 21 15/16 in.); Overall: 293.9 x 71 cm (115 11/16 x 27 15/16 in.); with knobs: 293.9 x 79 cm (115 11/16 x 31 1/8 in.)
  • Provenance: Wan Chengzi 萬承紫 [1775–after 1837], Xu Weiren 徐渭仁 [1788–1853], Sun Zutong 孫祖同 [1894–1937], (C. C. Wang 王季遷 [1907–2003], New York, NY, sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art), The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: CC0
  • External Link: https://clevelandart.org/art/1961.89
  • Medium: Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
  • Inscriptions: 宣文君者韋逞母宋氏也。父授以周官音義,曰:吾家世學傳周官。傳業相繼。此又周公所製,經紀〔典〕誥百官品物備於此矣。女可受之。君諷誦不輟。石帝徙山東。君乃推鹿車,背負父所授書到冀州。逞時年少。晝則採樵,夜則教逞。逞遂學成名立。仕符堅為太常。堅常幸其太學,問博士經典。乃憫禮樂遺缺。時博士盧壺對曰:廢學既久,書傳零落。比年綴撰,正經粗集。惟周官、禮經,未有其師。竊見太常韋逞母宋氏世學家,女傳其父業。得周官音義。今年八十。視聽無闕。非此母無可傳授後生。于是就宋氏家立講堂,置生員百二十人。隔絳紗縵而授業焉。拜宋氏爵,號為宣文君。賜侍婢十人。周官學後行于世。 崇禎戊寅八月二日,為綬姑六旬之辰。綬弟自成為姑偦。偕姑季女駱密、外孫楹、楠、楩、橒、楞、棅、孫女惠、漉酒上壽,屬綬圖寫,所以頌祝者。綬思宋母尚五胡之時,經藉屬之婦人;今太平有象,而秉杖名義者,獨綬姑爾。敬寫此圖,且厚望于弟紹焉。猶子洪綬九頓首。
  • Fun Fact: Chen Hongshou's long inscription at the top of the painting compares his virtuous aunt with the historical exemplar, Lady Xuanwen.
  • Department: Chinese Art
  • Culture: China, Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
  • Credit Line: Mr. and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund
  • Collection: ASIAN - Hanging scroll
  • Accession Number: 1961.89

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