Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period/Ch'ên Hung-shou

CH'ÊN Hung-shou 陳洪綬 (T. 章侯, H. 老蓮, monastic name after 1645 悔遲 H. 老遲), 1599–1652, Ming artist and poet, was a native of Chu-chi, Chekiang. His grandfather, Ch'ên Hsing-hsüeh 陳性學, chin-shih of 1577 and financial commissioner for Kwangtung in the years 1601-06, left the family a moderate fortune. But Ch'ên Hung-shou's father died when he was eight years old and the family inheritance was appropriated by his eldest brother. His childhood drawings surprised artists of high repute and he later made his living by painting. As early as 1616, when he was eighteen sui, he produced a series of twelve illustrations depicting legendary figures in poetry of the fourth century B.C. known as the Elegies of Ch'u (楚辭 Ch'u-tz'ŭ). One of these drawings is a portrait of Ch'ü Yüan 屈原 (ca. 343–ca. 277 B.C.). The other eleven represent fairies mentioned in that portion of the Ch'u-tz'û known as the Nine Songs (九歌 Chiu-ko). These pictures, with a preface dated 1638 written in his own beautiful hand, were reproduced in 1930 in the third instalment of the 喜詠軒叢書 Hsi-yung hsüan ts'ung-shu, under the title 離騷圖像 Li-sao t'u-hsiang. Printed in the same collectanea is a set of 69 illustrations to the Elegies of Ch'u, entitled Li-sao t'u-ching (經), made by Hsiao Yün-ts'ung 蕭雲從 (T. 尺木, 1596–1673). Hsiao's illustrations were rearranged and supplemented in 1782 by order of Emperor Kao-tsung, and were then copied into the Ssŭ-k'u ch'üan-shu (see under Chi Yün) under the title, Li-sao ch'üan t'u, 2 chüan, with 91 illustrations.

Other works which bore illustrations by Ch'ên Hung-shou are the drama, Hsi-hsiang-chi, and the novel, Shui-hu chuan (for both see under Chin Jên-jui). His fame as a painter, calligrapher, and poet soon became widespread, as did also his reputation for freedom with wine and women. He was regarded as the most noted figure painter of his day in south China, as his contemporary, Ts'ui Tzŭ-chung [q. v.], was of north China—hence the phrase "Nan Ch'ên pei Ts'ui" (南陳北崔). About 1640 he went to Peking, and two years later he enrolled as a student in the Imperial Academy (國子監). During this period he served for several months as court painter. He returned to his home in 1643 and when Nanking fell to the Manchus (1645) he entered the Buddhist priesthood, fleeing to the mountains in 1646, possibly in consequence of some anti-Manchu activities. Six years later he returned to his home where he died. Although chiefly known for his portrayal of human figures, he did well as a painter of landscape (山水 shan-shui) and flowers (花卉 hua-hui). In his later life he devoted himself chiefly to drawings of Buddhist divinities, particularly Kuan-yin 觀音 and Lo-han 羅漢. More than 100 of his drawings are listed by different collectors, 21 of these being cited in the Shih-ch'ü pao-chi (see under Chang Chao), the catalogue of paintings in the imperial collections, of which the first instalment was completed in 1745.

The essays and poems of Ch'ên Hung-shou, entitled 寶綸堂集 Pao-kuan t'ang chi, in 10 chüan, were collected about thirty-nine years after his death by his fourth son, Ch'ên Tzŭ 陳字 (T. 無名, original name 儒楨), who was also known for his calligraphy and drawings. This collection was re-edited with supplements, biographies, and a portrait of Ch'ên Hung-shou, in 1888, by Tung Chin-chien 董金鑑. A manuscript copy of a work by Ch'ên Hung-shou on the Classic of Changes, entitled 筮儀象解 Shih-i hsiang chieh, believed to be in his own handwriting, is preserved in the Provincial Library of Chekiang.


[1/509/2a; 2/70/18b; 3/461/12a; 26/1/8b; 29/1/8a; 紹興府志 Shao-hsing-fu chih (1719) 57/32a; Waley, Index of Chinese Artists, p. 13; T'oung Pao (1904) pp. 320-1; L.T.C.L.H.M. p. 298; Lu Hsin-yüan [q. v.], I-ku t'ang t'i-pa (1890) 16/1a; Kwang-tung t'ung-chih (1822, see under Chiang Fan), 19/16b; Journal of Chekiang Provincial Library, II, 5 (Sept.–Oct. 1933) p. 151.]

Fang Chao-ying