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Asian Art
Artist: Wang Mian, Chinese, died 1359

Ink Plum

ca. 1350s

Hanging scroll: ink on paper; with ivory rollers

without mounting: 45 3/16 × 10 1/4 in. (114.8 × 26 cm)
with mounting: 111 × 21 in. (281.9 × 53.3 cm)
with rollers: 25 in. (63.5 cm)
Hobart and Edward Small Moore Memorial Collection, Gift of Mrs. William H. Moore
The plum, blooming in isolation at the end of winter when it is still often surrounded by snow, became a symbol of regeneration and of endurance under adversity. Paintings of plums executed in ink only developed as a genre of painting, particularly associated with scholars and scholar painting, during the late Northern Song period at the end of the eleventh and beginning of the twelfth century. The literary and pictorial associations that the plum gained over the centuries took on a deeper meaning with the Mongol conquest of China at the end of the thirteenth century. Wang Mian, painting at the end of the Mongol period, gave shape to the genre. His images of plum branches in cascading S-curves were combined with poems, refining the expressive potential of the subject.
Yuan dynasty (1279–1368)

Chang Jo-ai, to 18th century; Pang Lai-ch'en, before 1932; Ton-ying, New York, to 1932; sold to Mrs. William H. Moore (Ada Small Moore) (1858–1955), New York, 1932; given to the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn., 1954


Susan B. Matheson, Art for Yale: A History of the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2001), 80, 83, fig. 74.

David Ake Sensabaugh, The Scholar as Collector: Chinese Art at Yale, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2004), 28–29, 44, no. 41, fig. 19.

Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 297, ill.

Mimi Gardner Gates, The Communion of Scholars: Chinese Art at Yale, exh. cat. (New York: China House Gallery, 1982), 106–108, no. 48, ill.

George J. Lee, Selected Far Eastern Art in the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1970), 209–210, no. 416, 417, ill.

Masterpieces of Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties Collected Overseas (Hangzhou, China: Zhejiang da xue chu ban she, 2011).

Maggie Bickford and Mimi Gardner Gates, Bones of Jade, Soul of Ice : the Flowering Plum in Chinese Art (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1985), no. 13.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.