3634073Eminent Chinese of the Ch'ing Period, Volume 1 — Ch'ên ShuM. J. Gates

CH'ÊN Shu 陳書 (H. 上元弟子, 南樓老人), Mar. 13, 1660–1736, April 17, painter of landscapes and flowers, was a native of Chia-hsing (Kashing) Chekiang, where her family had resided since the twelfth century. When she was young she studied the classics and literature and was taught to paint. She became the second wife of Ch'ien Lun-kuang 錢綸光 (T. 廉江, 1655–1718) of the same district, and the mother of three sons and one daughter. These children received their early training from her because her husband was much of the time with his father, Ch'ien Jui-chêng 錢瑞徵 (T. 鶴庵, 1620–1702, chü-jên of 1663), at Ch'ü-chou, Chekiang, where the latter served as director of the district school (1686-97). She managed the affairs of her family with vigor and understanding and sometimes solved difficult problems relating to her husband's clan. At the same time she supplemented the family income by the sale of her own paintings.

The children of Ch'ên Shu had the advantage of a sound classical training. Her eldest son, Ch'ien Ch'ên-ch'ün [q. v.], the most illustrious of the three brothers, was an eminent poet and official. He became a chin-shih and a member of the Hanlin Academy in 1721, and later served as director of education of the Peking Metropolitan Area (1735–36, 1738–42), and as vice-president of the Board of Punishments (1742–52). While her son served as an official in Peking, Ch'ên Shu went twice to the capital to live with him there, the first occasion being in 1722–25 when she visited many famous places in and about Peking. Early in 1735, while she was living at Kashing, she received presents of ginseng and silk from Emperor Shih-tsung, in consideration of her son's service to the nation. In addition, the emperor granted that son several months' leave to visit his mother who was then seventy-six sui and not very strong. But regarding her son's work as a public official more important than her own comfort, she came to Peking in October where she died the following spring. Her remains were taken to Chia-hsing and were interred there in 1737.

About thirty-five paintings by Ch'ên Shu are listed in J. C. Ferguson's 歷代著錄畫目 Li-tai chu-lu hua-mu (1933). Of these, twenty-three are listed in the imperial catalogues of paintings and examples of calligraphy. Emperor Kao-tsung highly praised her skill and composed several poems to be inscribed on the paintings by her in the palace collection. Though Ch'ên Shu excelled in landscape and flowers, she sometimes painted human figures. She also wrote poems of which a collection, entitled 復庵詩稿 Fu-an shih-kao, 3 chüan, was edited, but was apparently not printed.

Several painters profited by the teachings of Ch'ên Shu. One was her youngest son, Ch'ien Chieh 錢界 (T. 主恆, H. 晴村, 曉村, 1691–1758), and another was her great-grand nephew, Ch'ien Tsai [q. v.]. The former was a magistrate and sub-prefect in Hupeh, and the latter, a chin-shih of 1752 and a vice-president of the Board of Ceremonies (1780–83). A third pupil, equally famous, was Chang Kêng 張庚 (T. 浦山, H. 瓜田逸史, 白苧村桑者, 彌伽居士, 公之千, 1685–1760), who wrote several works on the history of painting in the Ch'ing period. One of his works, entitled 國朝畫徵錄 Kuo-ch'ao hua chêng lu, 3 chüan, printed in 1739, with an appendix of 2 chüan, contains accounts of about 465 painters.

[1/513/5a; 3/媛4/36b; 4/149/7a; 19/癸下/19b; 21/2/29a; Ch'ien Ch'ên-ch'ün, Hsiang-shu-chai wên-chi 26/6a; 4/140/9b; 19/丙下/1a; Yü Shao-sung, Shu-hua shu-lu chieh-t'i (see bibl. under An Ch'i)]

M. J. Gates