About this artwork
With a lively combination of realism and caricature, this detail of the painting Yang Pu Moving His Family depicts a group of peasants transporting a rustic scholar and his family across a stream. Distinguished by his official government cap, with its long streamers, the otherwise disheveled, bare-legged scholar bids farewell to his neighbors on the shore. Servants valiantly attempt to carry children and the family’s belongings—scrolls, furniture, and dishes—through the water. The scholar depicted here may represent Yang Pu, a character described in stories of the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279). According to folklore, Yang Pu initially declined, and then reluctantly accepted, his appointment to a government position in the capital city. Chinese law forbade civil officials from working in their native districts, and as a result, many were required to relocate to distant cities. Painters and poets frequently depicted the theme of farewell, or “noble parting,” exemplified by the story of Yang Pu. The twigs that protrude from the official caps of the men depicted here may allude to the ancient Chinese custom of presenting departing friends with small branches from a willow tree.
Currently Off View
- Arts of Asia
- Yang Pu Moving His Family
- Handscroll; ink and light color on paper
- 52.7 × 231.1 cm (20 3/4 × 91 in.)
- Kate S. Buckingham Endowment