The Hero's Happy Encounter

Chen Chongguang, also known as Ruomu, is a painter and poet from Yangzhou, Jiangsu province who strictly follows the traditional style of Chinese painting. His use of calligraphic paint strokes is particularly evident on the clothes of the three heroes in this painting.

Depicted in this painting are three legendary figures that played key roles in the establishment of the powerful Tang Empire (AD 618-907). According to the story, Qiuranke (the Knight of Big Beard) (left) wanted to take over the throne in the chaos of war. He then met Hongfunü (Lady of Red Horsetail-Whisk) (right) and her husband Li Jing (centre). Hongfunü, who excelled at kung fu, had left her former master and eloped with Li, in whom she saw political talent. Through this couple, Qiuranke got to meet Li Shimin (AD 599-649), who he immediately recognized as the ‘Son of Heaven’. Qiuranke therefore gave up his ambition and left all his fortune to the couple to support Li Shimin, who eventually became one of the greatest emperors in history, Emperor Taizong (r. AD 627-649). This Tang legend, revised to show the legitimacy of the dynasty, has since been adapted into dramas, martial novels and movies.


  • Catalogue text

    Chen Chongguang was born in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province. Before studying painting, he worked as a woodcarver.

    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. 4 on p. 26, illus. p. 27 fig. 4

Reference URL

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