Autumn chrysanthemum

Chrysanthemum is a prominent autumn flower in Chinese gardens, and is regarded as one of the 'Four Gentlemen', symbolising unyielding spirit in adversity.
It is often accompanied by hedges in Chinese paintings. The theme of this painting may relate to a famous poem by Tao Yuanming, a reclusive poet from the mid-Six Dynasties period (c.AD 220-AD 589). The poem descrives Tao's life after quitting government service - "I pluck chrysanthemums under the eastern hedge, then gaze long at the distant summer hills."
First an army official and then a monk, the artist Xu Gu (1823-1896) was associated with artistic circles in Yangzhou, and later with the Shanghai School in the 19th century. He is renowned for his depictions of flowers, fruits, birds, and fish using the side of a dry brush, that skill is evident in this painting.


  • Title

    Autumn chrysanthemum

  • Artist/maker

    Xu Gu (1823 - 1896)
  • Associated place

    China (place of creation)
    Zhejiang province (possible) (possible place of creation)
  • Date

    mid-19th century
  • Material and technique

    ink and colour on paper

  • Material index

  • Technique index

  • Object type

  • Dimensions

    frame 34.5 x 48 x 2 cm (height x width x depth)
    painting 19 x 21.5 cm (height x width)
  • No. of items


  • Credit line

    Presented in honour of Dr Angelita Trinidad and the late Jose Mauricio Reyes to celebrate the opening of the Khoan and Michael Sullivan Gallery of Chinese Painting, 2000.

  • Museum location

  • Museum department

    Eastern Art

  • Accession no.


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Reference URL

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