About this artwork
This impressive handscroll depicts more than four hundred figures that together represent a broad variety of professional occupations, social types, public interactions and expressive poses. The scroll is a rare example of genre painting, seemingly newly emerged during the Song dynasty (960-1279), that took the public activities of common people as its subject-matter. The title, added in the frontispiece to the painting, literally reads “Collection of Customs during Times of Peace” (Taiping fenghui), referring to the totality of social and professional activities of a given community. The absence of an articulated background to the depiction of these activities, and their general composition around typological groups, is a feature shared with the medium of the model-book. Such painting manuals provided a collection of iconographic cartouches for copying into larger, integrated compositions. However, the particular compositional features of this scroll, including complex interaction among groups of figures, overall spatial coherence, and the nature of activities portrayed (including transportation, performance, and public sales), interestingly suggest that its horizontal pictorial surface stands here for the public space of the ‘street’. Activities portrayed include the transportation of goods, livestock, and people, commercial activities, including divinatory and clerical services, public entertainment, and even the accidental entertainment provided by a runaway donkey causing a stir. The social array of characters runs the gamut from street-beggar to scholarly recluse (with staff and servant carrying a lute), from men to women and children. Some of the hats and clothing of these figures appear to be Mongol in type, which lends additional interest to the temporal context of production of this particular painting: if painted in the Ming, the reference to the Mongol presence during the preceding Yuan dynasty adds a retrospective, historicizing note to this portrayal of public life.
- Currently Off View
- Arts of Asia
- Zhu Yu
- Street Scenes in Times of Peace 太平風會圖
- China (Artist's nationality:)
- Handscroll; ink and colors on paper
- Frontispiece by Wu Yi 吳弈: 太平風會圖 吳弈 Signature Seal: 長州吳弈祠葉 Collectors’ Seals: 王颛菴書畫記, 常熟翁同龢所藏書畫金石印 Seals on Geshui (隔水):叔平畫鑑, 救虎閣主(翁同龢)，常熟翁玉甫珍藏. Inscriptions on the Painting: 朱玉君璧畫 Artist's Seal: 朱氏君璧. Collectors' Seal: 均齋秘笈，颛菴真賞, 尚古之文, 黄齑瓮 Signature at end of scroll: "Zhu Yu Junbi hua" (Painted by Zhu Yu, (stylename) Junbi (1293-1365)), with two seals Colophons by: 1. Gu Qian (1471-1534), dated 1530 (listing erroneous cyclical date: gengying year of Zhengde): describes the painting and its contents, attributes painting to Zhu Yu (Junbi), describes collection history, identifying current owner as Wu Chunfu. [note: year of gengying is 1530, Zhengde period 1506-1521] y.chen 2. Weng Tonghe (1830-1904): provides brief biographical information for Gu Qian and Wu Chunfu. 3. Wang Shideng (1535-1612), dated 1568: recounts the painting's transmission into the collection of Wu Chunfu, and identifies his grandson Maocheng as its current owner. 4. Qian Gu (1508-1572), dated 1569: describes the contents and execution of the scroll, the artistic biography of Zhu Yu, and references current ownership by (Wu) Maocheng. 5. Weng Tonghe (undated): states his ownership and claims authenticity of this work. 6. Weng Tonghe. dated 1877: catalogues the contents of the painting, recounts its recent provenance (1874) from Weng's fifth brother, describes Zhu Yu as a person of scholarly status, identifies the costumes in the painting as being Mongol in style, the painting as predating the Ming dynasty, and provides a historical overview of the preceding colophons, ending with the entreaty: "To posterity upon acquisition of this scroll: may this be regarded as a recorded tale of our native Wu!" Seals: In addition to seals for each of the colophonists, the painting also features a seal of the Qing collector Wang Chuan'an.
- 26 × 790 cm (11 × 276 in.)
- Kate S. Buckingham Endowment