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Noro Kaiseki, 1747-1828
The Red Cliff under Clouds and Mountains
Ink on silk

The Red Cliff is a long prose poem written by Su Shi (1037-1101), a Chinese Confucian official opposed to reforms that would have stripped the Confucian scholar class of its independence. He was imprisoned, tried, and exiled to a remote village along the Yangzi River where established an estate and often entertained artists, poets, and other like-minded literati. The theme of the poem is one of exile followed by retreat into the cultivated values of the Confucian scholar class. This painting depicts the Red Cliff, a scenic spot along the river where Su would often visit with his guests.

The Red Cliff theme was extremely popular among Japanese bunjinga painters working in the mid-eighteenth century. Ike no Taiga, one of Kaiseki's early teachers, depicted this theme on a pair of folding screens. Kaiseki's fanciful conception of the landscape is in keeping with bunjinga treatments of this theme.

Ackland Art Museum, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gift of Ruth and Sherman Lee; 97.20.4

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Copyright (c) 2000, Mayumi Ishida, All Rights Reserved Last Updated: April 11, 2000