The Red Cliff, 1813

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Born into an important family in Hangchou, Qian Du was brought up on the literary classics. He was also able to study directly from ancient paintings and calligraphy in his father's study. This painting of a scholar in a boat drifting past a rocky outcropping illustrates one of the most famous Song dynasty poems: Su Shi's (1037-1101) "Meditations on Red Cliff." The artist has included the entire verse in this small scroll; it reads in part:

The great river flowing ever eastward,
Its waves have washed away all the gallants of ancient times. . .
Riotous rocks cleave the clouds;
Roaring billows rend the shores. . .
My hair turning grey in these early years
Life is but a dream
Let us pour a goblet of wine to the river moon

The Red Cliff
Artist Life
1763 - 1844
Accession Number
Curator Approved

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