Under the Ming, scholars often identified as Literati maintain a communication with nature. They occasionally draw, without being art professionals. Mid-Autumn is enjoyed as an opportunity to eat crabs and fish and to have wine to drunkenness with one's best friends.
On September 14 in New York, Sotheby's sells a hand scroll from Ming time that evokes such a happiness. It is signed by Shen Zhou, a literati who founded and animated the Wu school calling for a freedom of poetic expression similar as what was practiced under the Yuan. The scroll 29 cm high is in two parts : a drawing 92 cm long and an autograph calligraphy 10 m long. It is estimated $ 1.8M, lot 530.
The friend brought the paper and invited Shen to record that privileged moment in the bamboo hut of the garden. The drawing in a simple and speedy line is composed from a model by a Yuan master named Wu Zhen.
The poem in calligraphy explaining the circumstances of the artwork and the hedonistic interpretation of the event has been executed by Shen, certainly just after completion of the drawing. The sharp and wide characters essentially in two rows are in the style of a famous Song poet.
We learn that Shen and his friend were both 60 years old. If the poet told the truth about his age, this festival was held in 1486 in our calendar. The Mid-Autumn Moon behaves as a reference for the passing time which they neglected before having white hair. Shen hopes that the Moon brings forty additional autumns to them. This wish was not far from being fulfilled as the poet was to die an octogenarian.
SOLD for $ 2.17M including premium