The three 'friends of winter': bamboo, plum blossom and pine remain a very popular motif, even today. Defying the inclemencies of weather and the seasons, they have come to symbolize endurance and hardiness. At the same time, though, they particularly lend themselves to demonstrating the painter's skill in handling the brush and ink. The artist does not attempt to render the bamboo and its friends faithfully, but rather strives to capture their essence, depicting each plant using just a few masterful strokes, usually in black ink.
On show here are some 47 works that were mostly produced during the Ming and Qing dynasties and which depict bamboo and its wintry friends in all their forms. Bamboo, plum blossom and pine are depicted either heavy with drops of rain, poetically tender or vigorously robust. The various artists also combine them with one another or have them growing beside bubbling brooks or in the gardens of scholars.
Of particular interest here are the three hanging scrolls by the Qing-era master, Zheng Xie (Banqiao, 1693-1765); one of the Eight Eccentrics of Yangzhou, he was famed for his excellent depictions of bamboo.
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