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.
Shen Chou used monochrome ink applied in pale washes and coarse brushstrokes to depict the squat figure of a duck. Even using such abbreviated brushwork, he still succeeded in communicating the bird’s character. The inkwork is characteristic of his later works. This small work, which is the fourteenth leaf of the album Sketches from Nature, was painted in 1494, when the artist was about sixty-seven years old.