Flowers, Insects, and Bird Paintings

Jen Hsun (1835-1893)
Ducks on the Pond

Hanging Scrolls, Ink and Color on Rice Paper, 59 x 16 in. ea., (150 x 41 cm.ea.)

Chu Griffis Collection #65 Chu Griffis Collection #64 Jen Hsun is an artist of the Shanghai School of Art in the late 19th century. The name "Shanghai School" was a derogatory epithet given by the traditionalists who criticized those Shanghai artists engaged in developing much freer, high spirited and, at the time, exaggerated styles to suit the taste of the rich in this commercially well-developed treaty port. Times had changed. It was only natural that professional artists flocked to Shanghai to make a living. Jen Hsun, his brother, his nephew, and a student of his brother, Jen Po-nien were among the professionals at that time. These four Jens were all from Chechiang, south of Shanghai. They joined art clubs which owned galleries, stores and rooms for artists all under one roof. In these clubs art activities took place and business was conducted. Jen Hsun was one of the active members.

Generally speaking, professional artists may not be erudite scholar-painters, but they were highly trained technically. This has been true historically. Their favorite subjects often were birds and flowers and figure painting. Our artist, though not considered by art historians best among the four Jens in Shanghai at that time, created this couplet with a few skillful brush strokes to portray ducks swimming among reeds in a pond. It may be regarded as a playfully done work, but it was executed by a trained hand. Western influence was obvious in the fresh colors Jen Hsun used in place of the monochrome ink of earlier centuries.

The inscription reads:

"Painted in the summer of 1872
in the reign of Emperor Tangzhi
by Fuchang, Jen Hsun, in Wumen."

Purchased with funds given by David and Susan Zimmerman in 1992.