Abstract

In the late thirteenth century, the poet-painter Qian Xuan 錢選 (style [zi (字)] Shunju 舜举, sobriquets [hao 號] Zhaxi weng 霅溪翁, Yutan 玉潭; ca. 1235–ca. 1307) created a horizontal, multi-colored landscape painting known today as Wang Xizhi Watching Geese and owned by the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; a copy of the painting exists in the collection of the National Palace Museum in Taipei. The work depicts a waterside pavilion in which a figure stands with his right hand seemingly resting on the balustrade. This article offers a new interpretation of the painting's scene, and it will argue that the figure's hand on the balustrade is the key to an additional perspective of the painting's artistic statement. It begins by analyzing the painting composition, which includes the artist's inscription, before proceeding to a discussion of balustrade in Song ci-poetry and its significance in Qian Xuan's painting. A closer look at the architecture of the pavilion further reveals that the subject and theme of this painting is that of a dejected Song scholar-poet who laments his country's fate.

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