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Chinese Painting

Withered Tree

  • by Guo Bi
  • Handscroll, ink on silk
  • Proportions: 33.0 x 106.1 cm
  • China, Yuan Dynasty (14th Century)
  • Donated by Mr. Seiichi Ueno
  • AK 143

A large branch with a hook-shaped tip stretches off of a bent and withered tree in the center of this painting. On the right side are bamboo branches. Both exude a strong sense of endurance and vitality, as if they have survived through frigid conditions.

The artist, Guo Bi, also known as Tianxi and Tuisi, was born in Jiangsu, Jingkou. He passed the civil servants examination and became an education official in 1314. Before his death in c. 1340, Guo Bi became a professor of Wujiang Confucianism. He was known for his enjoying the company of scholars and priests of chan (Zen) Buddhism.

This outstanding painting is dedicated to a Master Wuwen. It follows the tradition of bamboo painting in the Northern Song Dynasty literati style.

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