Title: Gathering at the Orchid Pavilion
Album leaf: ink and colors on silk
Dimensions: Image: 13 x 26 in. (33 x 66 cm)
Frame: 34 1/2 x 33 in. (87.6 x 83.8 cm)
Gift of Professor and Mrs Pei-chi Chow
Depicted here is one of the most celebrated events in Chinese literary history: the poetry contest held in the year 353 at the Orchid Pavilion and recorded for posterity by the great calligrapher Wang Xizhi. On a spring day that year, the leading scholars in the region were assembled along the banks of a garden stream to practice the arts of poetry and calligraphy in a friendly competition, assisted by attendants who floated cups of wine on lotus leaves downstream to provide the necessary stimulation. The subject of this gathering was especially popular with certain painters of the Ming Dynasty who took an avid interest in reviving literati themes. Wu Wei was one such painter. This painting comes from an album where each leaf focuses on one of the famous contestants at the Orchid Pavilion gathering (the Museum has two other leaves from this album.) In the leaf reproduced here Wu Wei has chosen to show this particular bemused scholar-poet with his brush raised at the ready and his eyes focused directly ahead in concentration, as if purposefully ignoring the wine cups that have begun to gather nearby. Wu's brushwork is equally purposeful - his strokes swiftly define forms with a crispness and sureness that suggest the mood of the contest itself. (From “A Handbook of the Collection: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art," 1998)
NOTE: This electronic record is compiled from historic documentation which may not reflect the Johnson Museum's complete or current knowledge of the object. Review and refinement of such records is ongoing.