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Maker(s):Unknown; Wei Daoren (formerly attributed to)
Title:Scroll: A Giant Carp
Date Made:1368 - 1644, Ming Dynasty
Materials:ink and light color on silk mounted on silk brocade
Place Made:China
Measurements:scroll: 115 x 39 in.; 292.1 x 99.06 cm; image: 61 x 34 in.; 154.94 x 86.36 cm
Accession Number:  SC 1921.12.1
Credit Line:Gift of Dwight W. Tryon
Museum Collection:  Smith College Museum of Art

fish jumping out of rough water

Label Text:
Like many American artists of his time, Dwight Tryon began to collect Japanese woodblock prints and Asian ceramics in the mid-1890s. He displayed works from his collection in his New York studio to draw artistic inspiration from them while painting landscapes. Tryon received occasional gifts of Asian art from his friend Charles Lang Freer, including this hanging scroll, which depicts a giant carp, along with two smaller ones, leaping out of the water. Formerly attributed to Recluse Wei (Weidaoren), a thirteenth-century painter renowned for his elaborate fish paintings, this scroll is most likely the work of an unknown but skillful artist of the fifteenth century. With its careful delineation of the scales of the carp and the waves of the water, this scroll exemplifies the subtle ink strokes and washes of the fish painting tradition of during the Ming dynasty. Because the carp was considered an auspicious symbol of good luck and wealth, pictures of them were often used for household decoration or reciprocal gifts among friends in East Asia.

Tryon was a lover of boating and fishing and often enjoyed summer outdoor activities on the coast of New England. Freer was undoubtedly aware of this, and the subject of the scroll made this an appropriate gift to his fisherman friend. Tryon gave this work to the Museum in 1921. The pioneering gesture of Freer to donate his whole collection to establish a national museum of Asian art for the public’s benefit must have inspired Tryon to do the same. In addition to giving works of Western art and a large gift of funds for the construction of a new museum building at Smith, Tryon also donated his entire Asian art collection to the College, including seventy-five Japanese woodblock prints and some eighty Asian ceramic and metal works.

animals; water

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