narcissus growing from rockwork; matted; mounted on board

Deep Fragrance in the Valley of the Void, c. 1530


Chen Chun (who was also called Chen Daofu) was regarded by many as the Ming dynasty's best classic flower painter, but he was also a landscape painter and leading calligrapher. A member of the Suzhou Wu school and elite circle of Wen Zhengming (1470-1559), Chen was a follower of Shen Zhou (1427-1509), founder of the Wu school. Chen painted many flower studies; his best are virtuoso ink performances.

Chen signed this painting with the seal “Daofu,” an alternate name. The work also bears three collections seals of the Qianlong emperor (who reigned from 1736-1795). The inscription on the paper mount is by a relative of Puyi, the last emperor of China. Typical of laudatory colophons, it reads:

Baiyang Shanren (Chen Chun) expressionistic
flower paintings created a unique style
The patriarch of flower paintings in the Ming
His brushwork is sparing and graceful,
succinct in form and rich in content;
Its meaning goes beyond the imagery,
these are true masterpieces.

Spring 1783

Deep Fragrance in the Valley of the Void
Artist Life
1483 - 1544
Accession Number
Curator Approved

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narcissus growing from rockwork; matted; mounted on board