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Ducks Sleeping on a Lotus Bank

Tags: Ming dynasty | National Palace Museum | painting


Lü Chi (fl. ca. 1439-1505), Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)
Hanging scroll, ink and colors on silk, 174.5 x 104.2 cm 
Lü Chi (style name T’ing-chen; sobriquet Le-yü), a native of Ning-po in Chekiang, initially studied the bird-and-flower style of the early Ming painter Pien Wen-chin (fl. 1403-1428). He later followed the manners of the old masters, eventually becoming a master in his own right. By combining the “fine-line” and “sketching ideas” techniques, he was able to create a multifaceted style all his own. In the Hung-chih era (1488-1505), during the middle Ming, Lü Chi was a famous court painter at the Jen-chih Hall and was also provided with a sinecure post in the Imperial Bodyguard.

On a moonlit night in thick fog, four geese rest on a sand bar amidst lotuses and rushes. The composition only includes the foreground and middleground, and the background has been omitted. This work bears the signature of Lü Chi, but the authenticity is in question due to the weakness of the brushwork, which does not match that of his other paintings. The position of each part and the atmosphere here is similar to those in another work by Lü in the Museum entitled “Waterfowl on an Autumn Islet”. Thus, the painting here probably reflects a faithful imitation of Lü’s style, which nonetheless provides a glimpse of his “sketching ideas” manner.

Text and images are provided by National Palace Museum