(Chinese, c. 1615-before 1688)
Handscroll, ink and color on silk
Image: 28.4 x 392.8 cm (11 3/16 x 154 5/8 in.); Overall: 29.8 x 763.3 cm (11 3/4 x 300 1/2 in.)
Gift of Mrs. Wai-kam Ho and the Womens Council of The Cleveland Museum of Art 1977.47
The gathering’s host is in the Orchid Pavilion at the end of the scroll, representing an episode known as “Wang Xizhi Watching the Geese 王羲之觀鵝圖.”
This painting records a historic event in the year AD 353. During the Spring Purification Festival on the third day of the third month in the Chinese calendar, 42 scholars gathered at the Orchid Pavilion near Shaoxing in southeast China to compose poems and engage in a drinking contest. Wine cups were floated down a winding creek as the men sat along its banks; whenever a cup stopped, the one closest to the cup had to empty it and write a poem. At the end of the day, the calligrapher Wang Xizhi assembled 37 poems and wrote the Preface to the Orchid Pavilion Gathering in his elegant script style. It became the most famous model for calligraphy in Chinese art history.
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