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Subject:inscriptions help
Posted By: John R Sat, Sep 08, 2018 IP: 2601:443:c102:2a10:9

Looking for some help with these three inscriptions on a classic
bird and flower painting. The work on paper depicts
two birds and a white lotus. It is attributed to Zhang Ji.
He was the nephew of Li Gonglin [1049–1106].
I can find no dates or extant works from him, but Li Gonglin's painting
of the Meeting of the White Lotus Society maybe related to this
work. The extremely fine brushwork used in the detailing does seem
to be a match for the style of the time. The inscriptions are attributed to
Xiang Yuanbien [1525-1590], his friend, Wen Jia [1501-1583], and
Xiang Yuanbien's grandson Xiang Shengmo [1597–1658]. Each inscription
is created in a different script, Seal, regular, and clerical.
Any help is appreciated.

Subject:Re: inscriptions help
Posted By: rat Sun, Sep 09, 2018

I'm sorry this isn't the help you are looking for John, but I think this is a recent fantasy piece. The depiction of the heron and lotus resemble decorative paintings of 1990s/2000s China, not late Northern Song style. Also, Northern Song gongbi paintings were on silk rather than paper, though this picture is on paper.

The hand that wrote the Xiang Shengmo inscription also resembles the writing on recent imitations. It is poor quality calligraphy, and I have never seen any zhuanshu calligraphy by Xiang Shengmo. Have you found reliable zhuanshu handwriting by Xiang Shengmo to compare it to?

Finally, the inscription supposedly by Xiang Yuanbian writes Zhang Ji's given name incorrectly: Zhang's name is 張激, not 張記, as is written here. As one of the most discerning and renowned collectors in all of Chinese history, Xiang Yuanbian simply would not have made that mistake.

Subject:Re: inscriptions help
Posted By: John R Mon, Sep 10, 2018

Thanks rat,
I appreciate your observations. As always, they
lead to more areas of research and forensic
study. Authenticating Chinese art is certainly
a challenge.

Subject:Re: inscriptions help
Posted By: rat Mon, Sep 10, 2018

Yup, it sure is!

Subject:Re: inscriptions help
Posted By: I.Nagy Tue, Sep 11, 2018

The inscription in seal script attributed to Xiang Yuanbien clearly says,
宋人張紀荷塘藏圖 - Lotus pond with heron - In the
Picture Collection by the Song man (Painter) Zhang Ji
The Chinese language net is very laconic about
Zhang Ji 張紀. Year of birth and death unknown.
Painter of Southern Song, was a disciple of Li Di 李迪 1100-1197 court painter. He painted
flower, bamboo, bird and beast pictures.
The another inscription in clerical(Lishu) style attributed to Xiang Shenmo says,
罕有之作殊為得 - Very rare and difficult to obtain work
項聖謨書 - Written by Xiang Shenmo

As of he genuinity of this picture I share rat's beliefs.

With regards,

Subject:Re: inscriptions help
Posted By: rat Tue, Sep 11, 2018

Thanks I. Nagy, I was going with John R's reference to a painting in the Liaoning Museum that is attributed to a different Zhang Ji 張激, the nephew of Northern Song painter Li Gonglin:

The Zhang Ji 張紀 I see online is a Ming painter rather than a Li Di disciple, so thanks for that additional name.

主要作品 《明画录、名山藏》
纪一作圮。孝宗时人。弘治中供奉画院,工人物,兼精杂画。弘治十二年(一四九九)十二月兵部尚书马文升奏张圮辈绘技画工,何至槩授武职,全注锦衣,径准袭替。按图绘宝鉴续纂张靖条下列有孙圮、曾孙锦,明画录、无声诗史均误作“孙圮、孙锦”,既为张靖之孙应姓张,兹予订正。 《明画录、名山藏》

Still, I don't think this painting can be anything other than modern, whichever Zhang we would like to ascribe it to. Southern Song academy painters would almost certainly have been working on silk too, for example.

Subject:Re: inscriptions help
Posted By: John R Thu, Sep 13, 2018

Thank you again I.Nagy and rat. The artist's name is'signed' at the bottom right of the painting. In my first post I said "the extremely fine brushwork used in the detailing does seem to be a match for the style of the time. Here is a link to James Cahill's Lecture 10D: Bird-and Flower painting The Early Centuries describing that style.
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