Title: Yuan An reclining during a Snowstorm
Hanging scroll: ink on silk
Dimensions: Image: 51 3/16 x 27 1/2 inches (130 x 69.9 cm);
Framed: 84 1/2 x 27 inches (214.6 x 68.6 cm)
George and Mary Rockwell Collection
Xie Shichen was from Wu (modern-day Suzhou, Jiangsu province), but his name is rarely found in its painting histories. Paintings signed by him are mostly in a semi-literati and semiprofessional style. Yuan An Reclining during a Snowstorm was a favorite subject of Xie’s oeuvre and he painted it numerous times. The subject falls into the category of moral tales from the lives of past exemplary people, which were often painted to inspire viewers.
This scene illustrates an early event in the life of Yuan An (died 92 AD), a scholar of the Eastern Han dynasty. After a huge snowfall, the Prefect of Luoyang went on a personal tour and saw that many people had finally dug themselves out and were begging for food. Because the path to Yuan’s house was not cleared, the magistrate feared that the scholar had died. However, Yuan said that with so many others starving and needing rescue, he did not want to burden the officials with his own personal suffering. In this painting, Yuan An reclines on his right side, reading a book.
The subject was not only warmly embraced in China, but also spread into Korea and influenced Korean painters such as Kim Myeong-guk (1600–after 1662). ("Tradition, Transmission, and Transformation in East Asian Art," curated by Cornell PhD student Yuhua Ding under the supervision of Ellen Avril and presented at the Johnson Museum January 23-June 12, 2016)
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.