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Photo credit: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University

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Culture: Chinese
Title: Ink Prunus
Date: 1530-1580
Medium: Hanging scroll: ink on silk
Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Rodney P. Henricksen
Object Number: 2002.173.004
Label Text: Shen Xiang was a scholar-official who specialized in paintings of plum trees executed in ink. In China the symbol of plum blossom usually refers to endurance under adversity. Shen’s preference for painting plum might be associated with his family history: his father and two of his younger brothers were executed on trumped-up charges after his father stood up to the tyrannical behavior of the eunuch Yan Song. For Shen Xiang the plum must have been a particularly poignant symbol of perseverance under adversity. Although this painting is not dated and cannot therefore be given a specific place within Shen’s chronology, it shows how a popular cultural image could be reinterpreted to bring personal meaning to individual experience. ("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.