Bamboo After Rain on the Xiao and Xiang Rivers

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Artist: Xia Chang (1388-1470)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, 1464
Ink on paper
H x W (image): 29 x 780 cm (11 7/16 x 307 1/16 in)
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view


bamboo, China, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644)
Provenance research underway.

Xiao and Xiang are the names of two rivers in Hunan Province, central China, which have been famous since ancient times for their extensive groves of bamboo. The combined term also applies to an area known in antiquity as the kingdom of Chu, which occupies a special place in Chinese literature and history. Many artists who painted scenes of the Xiao-Xiang never actually visited Hunan, but were inspired by the romantic associations of Chu and took their cue from earlier poems and depictions of its misty, water-filled scenery. Such is the case with this long handscroll, about one-fifth of which is exhibited, which depicts an idyllic view of bamboo and rocks along a calmly flowing stream. Finely brushed bamboo leaves are rendered in dark black ink, while landscape elements are done in shades of gray. The section on display focuses on a single bamboo stem that curves gently down into the water, causing light ripples, then resurfaces.

Xia Chang spent much of his life in government service, rising eventually to the rank of director of the Court of Sacrificial Worship. As a youth, he studied bamboo painting under Wang Fu (1362-1416), and later became the most highly regarded painter of the subject in his generation. After retiring from office in 1457, Xia devoted much of his time to art. Painted late in his life, this scroll is one of Xia Chang's finest surviving works.

Published References
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku [Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Painting]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1982-1983. vol. 1: pp. 208-209.
  • Osvald Siren. Chinese Painting: Leading Masters and Principles. 7 vols., New York and London, 1956-1958. vol. 6: pl. 135.
  • Nakata Yujiro, Fu Shen. O-bei shuzo Chugoku hosho meiseki shu [Masterpieces of Chinese Calligraphy in American and European Collections]. 6 vols., Tokyo, 1981-1983. vol. 5: pl. 9-12.
  • Chinese Art Society of America. Chinese Art Recently Acquired by American Museums. vol. 7. p. 85, fig. 9.
  • Eric Newton. The Arts of Man: An Anthology and Interpretation of Great Works of Art. Greenwich, Connecticut. pp. 304-5, pl. 167.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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