Grasshopper and chrysanthemum

Ju Chao was born in Guangzhou, Guangdong province. He and his brother Ju Lian (1828-1904) were masters of painting in the late 19th century in Guangdong. Painting in China is a skill traditionally learnt through copying works by previous masters, but Ju Chao advocated painting from life and claimed that “my paintings value true likeness”. Such an opinion differs from the traditional Chinese view, which values ‘to be alike in spirit’.

The Ju brothers also invented the water and powder infusion method of applying water or powder to ink and colour before they dried on paper. The natural flow of water thus brought out the tonal gradation, light, and shade and density most suited for depicting the plants and insects of the south. This painting demonstrates this method.

The inscription on this painting reads ‘Wind from the west is blowing through layers of curtains on doors, the proud [chrysanthemum] are falling but their beauty remains. In fading moonlight I [stayed] with these flowers while they cooled, versing through this cool evening in autumn.’

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