About this artwork
This scene depicts the legendary story of Wang Huizhi (d. 388), the eccentric son of one of China’s most renowned calligraphers. As the fifth-century text New Account of Tales of the World (Shishuo xinyu) describes, Wang awoke in the midst of a snowy night and, inspired by a glass of wine, recalled the poem “Summons to a Retired Gentleman.” He then impulsively set out in a small boat to visit his reclusive friend Dai Kui. Upon arriving at Dai’s gate, however, Wang left without entering. Asked to explain his irrational behavior, he replied, “I originally went on the strength of an impulse, and when the impulse was spent, I turned back” (translated by Richard Mather). Wang appears here huddled in his boat, which is paddled by an attendant clothed in a straw raincoat.
One or more large-scale compositions like this were typically commissioned for display in the grand reception halls of wealthy merchants and government officials. Encumbered by their urban lifestyles, these men typically idealized bucolic and often eccentric characters like the recluse portrayed here. This painting is part of the same set as Watching the Waterfall.
- Currently Off View
- Arts of Asia
- Xia Kui
- Visiting Dai Kui on a Snowy Night
- Hanging scroll; ink and colors on silk
- Inscription: "Qiantang Xia Kui xie" 錢塘夏葵寫 [Sketched by Xia Kui of Qiantang]. Seal: 夏氏廷暉
- 195.6 × 101.6 cm (77 × 30 in.)
- R. A. Waller Fund