A Branch of the Cold Season

Photo: Paul Macapia

A Branch of the Cold Season

ca. 1440

Yang Hui

Chinese, active early-mid 15th century

In this collaboration, Yang Hui’s plum picture and the handwriting of Monk Zhen visually resonate. Following earlier ink plum painting traditions, Yang Hui speedily “writes” or outlines his snowy white petals in black. Dramatically framing Monk Zhen’s calligraphy, Yang’s confident branch refers to the style of his predecessor and plum painting specialist Wang Mian (d. 1359). Fragile yet pure and elegant, the plum is a resilient recluse that blooms during winter under adverse conditions of ice and snow. It was a fitting metaphor in this farewell gift for Yang’s friend Hong Chun, who was departing to take the notoriously difficult civil service examinations.
Ink on paper
Overall: 30 5/16 x 56 1/16 in. (77 x 142.4cm)
Image: 12 3/16 x 25 in. (30.9 x 63.5 cm)
Eugene Fuller Memorial Collection
Provenance: Howard C. Hollis
Photo: Paul Macapia
Not currently on view


Exhibition HistorySan Francisco, California, San Francisco Museum of Art, Art in Asia and the West, 1957.

Munich, Germany, Haus der Kunst, 1000 Jahre Chinesische Malerei (1000 Years of Chinese Painting), 1959 (The Hague, the Netherlands; Zurich, Switzerland; Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland Art Museum [organizer], 1960).

Cleveland, Ohio, Cleveland Museum of Art, Chinese Art Under the Mongols: The Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368), 1968 (New York, New York, Asia Society, Inc., Asia House Gallery, 1969).

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Chinese Calligraphy, 1971 (Kansas City, Missouri, William Rockhill Nelson Gallery of Art; New York, New York, Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1972).

Tokyo, Japan, Tokyo National Museum, Art in Tea Ceremony, Oct. - Nov., 1980.

Berkeley, California, University Art Museum, Bones of Jade, Soul of Ice: The Flowering Plum in Chinese Art, Jan. 23 - Mar. 24, 1985 (New Haven, Connecticut, Yale University Art Gallery, Apr. 18 - June 16, 1985; Saint Louis, Missouri, Saint Louis Art Museum, July 12 - 8 Sept. 8, 1985).

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Chinese Art: A Seattle Perspective, Dec. 22, 2007 - July 26, 2009.

Tokyo, Japan, Suntory Museum of Art, Luminous Jewels: Masterpieces of Asian Art From the Seattle Art Museum, July 25 - Sept. 6, 2009 (Kobe, Japan, Kobe City Museum, Sept. 19 - Dec. 6, 2009; Kofu, Japan, Yamanashi Prefectural Museum of Art, Dec. 23, 2009 - Feb. 28, 2010; Atami, Japan, MOA Museum of Art, Mar. 13 - May 9, 2010; Fukuoka, Japan, Fukuoka Art Museum, May 23 - July 19, 2010).

Seattle, Washington, Seattle Asian Art Museum, Boundless: Stories of Asian Art, Feb. 8, 2020 - ongoing [on view Feb. 8, 2020 - July 11, 2021].
Published ReferencesSAM Guild, Engagement Calendar, 1953, no. 1.

San Francisco Museum of Art Cat., Art in Asia and the West, 1957.

Haus der Kunst, München. 1000 Jahre Chinesische Malerei, (Münich, 1959), #35a: 253.

Huggins, M., “The ‘Four Gentleman’ of Chinese Art,” Antiques, June 1962: 622.

Lee, Sherman E., and Wai-kam Ho. Chinese art under the Mongols: the Yuan dynasty, 1279-1368. [Cleveland]: Cleveland Museum of Art; (Press of Case Western Reserve University, 1968), #249: 49.

Zeng, Youhe. Chinese calligraphy. Co-published by the Philadelphia Museum of Art and Boston Book & Art, Publisher. 1971. “Introduction,” fig. 17.

Henry Trubner, William Jay Rathbun, and Catherine A. Kaputa. Asiatic Art in the Seattle Art Museum: A Selection and Catalogue. (Seattle: Seattle Museum., Seattle: The Museum.1973): 173 #131

Mayuyama, Junkichi. Mayuyama, Seventy Years = Ryusen shuho: Sogyo Shichijusshunen Kinen. (Tokyo: Mayuyama Ryusendo, 1976), vol. 11: 83, pl. 168.
Tokyo National Museum, Art in Tea Ceremony, 1980: 63.

Bickford, Maggie, et.al, Bones of Jade, Soul of Ice: The Flowering Plum in Chinese Art, (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1985):72-74 cat.12: 255-256.

Bickford, Maggie, Ink Plum: The Making of a Chinese Scholar-Painting Genre, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996), Cover illustration and plate 19.

Toda, Teisuke and Hiromitsu Ogawa. Comprehensive Illustrated Catalogue of Chinese Paintings: Second Series. (Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1998), A55-031: I-362& I-261, cat. #A55-031.

Watson, William, The Arts of China 900-1620, (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000): 153, fig. 233.

Peng, Benren 彭本人 (Ed.). Haiwai Yizhen: Zhongguo Huaniaohua 海外遺珍: 中國花鳥畫. (Hunan: Hunan meishu chubanshe, 2001)36.

Kawai, Masatomo, Yasuhiro Nishioka, Yukiko Sirahara, editors, Luminous Jewels: Masterpieces of Asian Art from the Seattle Art Museum, The Yomiuri Shimbun, 2009, catalogue# 81.


Waugh, Daniel C. "The Arts of China in Seattle." The Silk Road, vol. 12 (2014): pp. 137-152, reproduced p. 146, fig. 26 and p. 147, fig. 27).

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