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The Painting Scroll of Beauty by Huang Shen
The painting scroll, Beauty, by Huang Shen, is a work on paper, 132cm long and 64cm wide, now in the collection of Henan Museum.
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In the history of mankind, Chinese civilization has been shining for its uniqueness, and continuing to this very day with vigor and vitality. Being a prominent birthplace of Chinese civilization ....>>Details
Writer
Name:Li Yaohua
About the Writer: Graduated from Jinlin Art College, majoring in Ancient Paintings' Restoration and Authentication, he dedicates to protection and restoration of collections of calligraphy and painting in the Protection & Restoration Center of Henan Museum, with an academic title of assistant museologist.
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Fig.1 Beauty (part)

Huang Shen (1687-approx. 1772), a native of Ninghua, Fujian, Huang Sheng by initial name and Gong by courtesy name, changed his name to Huang Shen in the 60th year of Kangxi (1721) and his courtesy name to Gongshou in the 4th year of Yongzheng (1726). His aliases include Yingpiao (lit. “Gall-wood Gourd”), Yingpiao Zi (lit. “the Gentleman of Gall-wood Gourd”) and Yingpiao Shanren (lit. “the Recluse of Gall-wood Gourd”) [1], as well as Fang-ting, Yan-geng (lit. “Inkstone-Farming”), Dong-hai Bu-yi (lit. “Commoner of the East Sea”), Cang-yu-dong Ren (lit. “Man of the Green Jade Cave”), Hu-tu Ju-shi (lit. “Muddle-headed Recluse”).

As represented, the lady is standing still. She wears a graceful dress, with a drifting “cloud belt” and a jade belt around the waist. The chignon on the top of her head resembles a knot, on which there is a flower hairpin; beside her ear, a strand of hair flows backward. Her hands, covered by sleeves, carry a mandarin duck, which seems to recover from injury. Elegant and serene, she gazes slightly downward at the duck, showing concern, as well as admiration [because a pair of mandarin ducks symbolises a happy couple in Chinese culture].

The lady is charmingly innocent and well proportioned. The brushwork, unruly and vigorous, which is typical of the cursive script, is employed in the creation of the painting. The lines used to represent the dress is spontaneous and smooth, whose pauses and turns indicate that the painting brush must have been wielded very fast; and the ink, appropriately thick or thin in different parts, is rich in charm. The lady in the painting is simple and serene. Though not coquettish, she shows a reserved and elegant disposition. Such a technique of representation weighing disposition over appearance is a distinctive feature of Huang Shen’s figure painting. His unruly, vigorous brushwork shows a profound understanding of ancient techniques; in a few cases, the brushwork is too unrestrained that the charm is harmed. The brushwork is unruly and vigorous with pauses and turns, showing an impressively majestic style.

Fig.2 Beauty (part)

At the upper left corner of the painting, a poem with seven characters in each line is calligraphed in cursive script. Though seemingly loose, it is actually orderly in layout. Outwardly vigorous and inwardly soft, the calligraphy is rich in variation and not constrained by ancient calligraphic techniques, showing a unique style marked by antiquity, simplicity and vigor. Having learnt from Huaisu [a Buddhist monk and master calligrapher of the Tang Dynasty], Huang is noted for forceful abrupt dots and singular antique composition.