Yun Shouping was born Yun Ge in
Wujin, Jiangsu province, the third son of Yun Richu (1601-78). Richu was an
active supporter of the Revival society (Fushe) and thus loyal to the fallen Ming dynasty (1368-1644). In 1648 Yun
Shouping was captured by the Manchus in Fujian province. Yun Shouping entered
the Buddhist priesthood and later returned to live in Wujin with his father.
All the while Yun Shouping continued to study painting and poetry. In the
1650s, he met and became lifelong friends with Wang Hui (1632-1717, cat. 17,
18). They shared very similar landscape painting styles, and ultimately Yun
Shouping decided his friend should paint landscapes and he would do bird and
flower painting for which he became very well known.
This painting of grapes and leaves
that uses ink only in the boneless manner, with no outlines, makes extensive
use of ink wash and gradations of ink. A very moist and rich effect is created
by layering the ink washes. However, the washes are not as subtle and complex
as typically seen in Yun Shouping's work. There are also slightly awkward,
stylized gaps between the leaves, while the grape vine in the top left lacks
the freedom typical of Yun Shouping's work, and is probably the work of a
follower. The heptasyllabic quatrain poem is written in Yun Shouping's
attenuated calligraphic style. But here too the calligraphy is a bit too
relaxed and soft, not nearly as elegant as Yun Shouping's more tightly
controlled brush. The poem may be translated:
Snowed deep last night, first beads came off,
Round shapes, for many years sought but not found.
Someone groping for them, arrives at West Lake,
Leaves Kunlun [mountains], to be near to Jiuhei.