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Old Tree

Chen Hengke (Ch'en Heng-k'o)

Artwork Details

Old Tree
circa 1920-1923
Chen Hengke (Ch'en Heng-k'o)
ink and color on paper
22 15/16 in x 13 1/16 in (58.26 cm x 33.18 cm)
Gift of Katsuizumi Sotokichi



Like Qi Baishi, whom he knew well and whose works are also on view in this alcove, Cheng Hengke was a well-established and much admired painter in early twentieth-century China. Although he was a founding member of the Chinese Painting Research Association, a conservative group that dominated Beijing painting circles, his own work was quite innovative. He had studied Western and modern Japanese painting styles while in Japan.
His subject, a gnarled and ancient tree still in bloom, is an auspicious symbol of long life. Paintings of this theme would be presented as birthday congratulations to those who had reached the age of sixty (and thus lived through an entire cycle of the Chinese zodiac) to wish them continued health and vitality. The upper part of the scroll is blank, awaiting an inscription that would record the specific occasion of the gift.
Maribeth Graybill, Senior Curator of Asian Art
Exhibited in "Flora and Fauna in Chinese Art," April 6, 2002 - December 1, 2002.

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