The Peach Blossom Fishing Boat

Tags: National Palace Museum | painting


Wang Hui (1632-1717), Ch'ing Dynasty (1644-1911)
Album leaf, ink and colors on paper, 28.5 x 43 cm 
Wang Hui (style name Shih-ku) was a native of Ch'ang-shu in Kiangsu who studied landscape painting as a youth under Wang Shih-min (1592-1680) and Wang Chien (1598-1677). Under their guidance, he also studied treasured works in various collections, making numerous copies. Consequently, he was gifted at both northern and southern styles as well as ancient and modern ones. Thus, he later became known as one of "The Six Masters of the Early Ch'ing" and "The Sage of Early Ch'ing Painting."

This work illustrates the lines from T'ao Yüan-ming's prose poem "The Peach Blossom Spring," which relates how the fisherman stumbled upon the Spring: "Once he was going up a certain stream. Oblivious to the distance he had traveled, he suddenly found himself in a forest of blossoming peach trees that lined the banks for several hundred paces." Here, we see the blossoming peach trees and the solitary fisherman's skiff. The verdant landscape is laced with white clouds for an almost mystical effect. The artist's inscription states that this scroll is a copy of another painting of the same title by the Yüan artist Chao Meng-fu (1254-1322). Chao was one of the first to create paintings combining the themes of flowering streams and hermit fishermen. He himself was from the region of Wu-hsing, Chekiang, home to the Cha River, which boasted peach forests at its uppermost reaches. He likened the place to the Peach Blossom Spring and once thought of retiring there to live as a recluse. This leaf is from an album of landscape and flower paintings by Wang Hui and Yün Shou-p'ing.

Text and images are provided by National Palace Museum