Shen Chou (1427-1509)
Shen Chou, style name Ch’i-nan, sobriquets Shih-t’ien and Pai-shih-weng, was a native of Ch’ang-chou, Kiangsu. The son of the scholar-artist, Shen heng-ch’i (1409-1477), he painted in the family style, He also studied with the artists Ch’en Kuan (dates unknown) and Chao T’ung-lu, and his graceful brush technique eventually surpassed that of his teachers. After the age of forty, he adopted a freer notion of resemblance, an evocative ideal of likeness that suggested much more than the image itself stated.
In this painting, Shen Chou has used monochrome ink to depict a specimen of a rare breed of pigeon. Strokes of pale ink highlight its white body feathers, while heavier shades of black define its crest and tail. Modelled in deliberately naïve brushwork, the bird has been drawn with a sense of unpretentious archaism. This small work, which is the twelfth leaf of the album Sketches from Nature, was painted in 1494, when the artist was sixty-seven years old.