Scroll painting

Plum Blossom, 1454


Ink on paperexpand_more

The John R. Van Derlip Fundexpand_more  43.5

Plum blossoms were a favorite motif of flower painters during the Ming period. The plum tree is long-lived—specimens up to a thousand years old are said to be found in many places in China. Their crooked and gnarled branches, young green shoots, and flowers are much admired. The physical toughness of such rugged old plum trees, blooming in wintry desolation, symbolizes the ideal secluded scholar, whose moral toughness makes him resilient. The inscription records the occasion of this careful rendering:

I have recently received gifts of a poem from my distinguished relative Shizhai, chief advisor to the Prime Minister, and I greatly appreciate his kindness. Using the same rhyme, I have taken the occasion to combine a poem with flowers in ink as an expression of our sincere friendship.

There never was found such a flower in the Northland
The wave of a brush, a slanting branch expresses an image of thought.
Pure, clean, exalted and natural, it surpasses all common plants
One fitting to present the family of a retired statesman of the imperial court.

The first day of winter (November 7) in the fifth year of Jingtai, being the cyclical year of jiaxu (1454). Greetings from your humble relative Wang Qian.

Plum Blossom
Artist Life
active mid-15th century
H.44 x W.12 in.
Accession Number
Curator Approved

This record is from historic documentation and may not have been reviewed by a curator, so may be inaccurate or incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

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Scroll painting