Hanging scroll: ink and color on silk
h 58 -1/2 x w 33 inches
Lü Chi was a court painter during the Hung-chih period (1488-1506) and was known for his depictions of birds and flowers.
He was from Ning-p'o, a city east of Hangchou, where a flourishing commercial center for painting had existed for centuries.
In his paintings he followed T'ang and Sung masters and also imitated paintings by the later artist Pien Wen-chin (ca. 1356-1428)
as well as Pien's near contemporary Lin Liang (1455-1500), who was already at court when Lü Chi arrived around 1490.
"The seal below the artist's signature reads "Jih-chin ch'ing-kuang," a seal that appears on a number of works by artists
who served in the Ming imperial academy. It was Wai-kam Ho [a curator at the Cleveland Museum of Art] who first [to my knowledge]
figured out what it means: 'Daily approaching [being close to] the Pure and Radiant,' used by artists who had the privilege
of working in the presence of the emperor. The Chinese emperors often enjoyed having artists as their companions [they were
given quasi-military titles as if in the Imperial Guard] and watching them paint.The circular forms at the base of the overhanging
cliff are visually confusing - some [students] in my seminar argued that the fading away above them represents a recession
into a hollow of space. But if one knows earlier representations of the same motif [especially Sung], it's clear that it's
an overhanging cliff, the upper part obscured in mist, the lower part eroded and hollowed by water striking against it. By
the constant copying and imitating of the earlier, more naturalistic and readable form, derived from observation of natural
forms and phenomena, the motif has become visually ambiguous, as commonly happened within Chinese painting traditions."