2010: Wang Zhen (1867-1938)

Huaisu writing on a banana leaf

Ink and colors on paper | H. 130 cm; L. 33,2 cm | Signed and dated 1922
MC 2010-3. Gift of the Society of Friends of the Cernuschi Museum

A shrewd businessman, Wang Zhen was also a prolific painter. A pupil of Ren Bonian (1840-1896) and Wu Changshuo (1844-1927), he is particularly known for his character paintings, particularly for his religious figures. This representation of Huaisu, monk of Buddhism chan and famous calligrapher, is part of an ancient tradition. The biography of Huaisu by Tao Gu (903-970) indeed reports that the monk had planted banana trees around his hermitage, and that he used their leaves for his calligraphy. This anecdote was to become a pictorial theme in its own right, particularly dear to Ren Bonian. Wang Zhen's painting is characterized by its energetic stroke common to the foreground shore and background bamboos. Contrasting with this line whose strength borrows from the calligrapher's gesture, the monk's face is treated in the technique can, without bones, and the details of the eyes and the beard are taken again with a light brush.

Two luohans in the mountains

Ink and colors on paper | H. 135,5 cm; L. 32,3 cm | Signed and dated 1924
MC 2010-4. Gift of the Society of Friends of the Cernuschi Museum

Entrepreneur, lay Buddhist (jushi) and politician, Wang Zhen was the head of many charitable and religious associations in Shanghai. This fervent commitment to Buddhism can be seen in the choice of subjects for paintings, readily drawn from the iconography of Buddhism. chan. Here, two characters, maybe Luohans or the monks Hanshan and Shide, stand in the midst of steep rocks. They are portrayed with a strong stroke and bold colors, inherited from Wu Changshuo (1844-1927) and Ren Bonian (1840-1896).

The donation to the museum of these two works made it possible to fill an important gap in the institution's collections. Endowed with many works from the period of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), this one in fact held only a few works from the 1920s and had no representative works of the Shanghai school in its history. funds.


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