late 1400s–early 1500s
(Chinese, active 1488–1521)
Hanging scroll, ink on silk
Painting: 127.2 x 66.8 cm (50 1/16 x 26 5/16 in.); Overall with knobs: 218.8 x 75.3 cm (86 1/8 x 29 5/8 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 1970.80
Plum trees blossom in the first months of the year; the delicate flowers endure the harsh winter frosts. A popular motif in Chinese ink painting, the plum symbolizes the winter season and is a harbinger of spring.
Seasonal paintings, including those depicting flowering plum trees in early spring, furnished scholars’ studios or other interior spaces in the house.
Peng Xu is considered the foremost follower of the famous plum blossom painter Wang Mian (1287–1359) (see CMA 1974.26). The branches are brushed in the same vigorous manner leaving white streaks in the ink indicating the gnarled bark. The delicate blossoms are drawn in fine lines, while a gray wash covers the entire surface, only leaving the flower petals in reserve.
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