River landscape

Zha Shibiao, also known as Meihe or Erzhan, was from Xin’an in Anhui province. He is regarded as one of the four masters of the Xin’an School, and is renowned for his dry brushwork and sparse composition. The artist studied for the civil service examinations before the fall of the Ming dynasty, and it has been suggested that his subsequent departure from official life in favour of painting may have been prompted by lack of sympathy for the new rule.

From the 1670s onwards Zha Shibiao lived in Yangzhou. His family owned collections of paintings and bronzes, and he himself was a connoisseur. In painting he followed his contemporary Hong Ren (1610-1664) and master from the Yuan dynasty, Ni Zan (1301-1374).

On this painting, the artist inscribes: ‘Along the bank of willows there are gardens and houses in this village on the river; sometimes cloudless, sometimes a few raindrops, so do mornings and dawns pass by; [I wish] the landscape of the peasant family could be like this forever; are there any officers knocking at doors asking for taxes?’.

Details

  • Catalogue text

    Zha Shibiao was from Haiyang near Xiuying in Anhui province and is associated with the Anhui School, renowned for dry brushwork and sparse composition. Zha Shibiao studied for the civil service examinations before the fall of the Ming dynasty, and it has been suggested that his subsequent departure from official life in favour of painting may have been prompted by lack of sympathy for the new rule. His family owned collections of paintings and bronzes and he himself was a connoisseur. In painting he followed his near contemporary Hong Ren and the Yuan master Ni Zan. From the 1670s onwards he lived in Yangzhou.

    In: Vainker, Shelagh, Chinese Paintings in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2000)

Further reading

Vainker, Shelagh, Chinese Paintings in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2000), no. 159 on p. 184, illus. p. 185 fig. 159

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