The Lingnan School

",b' .~ rich art-historical and aesthetic play– ground of additional meaning. The second and third colophons added to the Gan Xuan handscroll both refer to having seen the paint– ing in 1821, one in the last part of the fifth lunar month and the other three days after the Autumn Festival (fig. 4). One of these colophons will interest us greatly when we come to consider other Lingnan artists in Part Two of this study, for it is by an– other Lingnan snuff bottle painter, who was presumably inspired to paint bottles by his friend Gan Xuanwen. The first colophon, which is the longest, confirms that the painting was almost certainly started on the trip in question, for a passage in the ~ m Fig. 4. I Second and third colophons on handscroll. 7 Fig. 3. Artists inscription and signamre on handscroll by Gan Xuanwen. Collection of the An Gallery of the Chinese University of Hong Kong. their elegant pursuit of the en– lightened state of consciousness which is the goal of all Eastern ways of life at the highest level. Wherever they went, the literati were accom~ parried by whatever they needed in the way of materials to translate a moment's inspiration into a work of art. The addition of colophons– calligraphic responses to the paint– ing-either on the painting itself or on added blank paper was common in Chinese art where the art object is considered not the end product of art and therefore sacred but merely one part of an ongoing process. The literati felt no inhibitions about adding such comments or collectOrs' seals, and the colophons provide a StOne Mountain' if we read Shishan in combination as a place name). A small group of bottles in the style of Gan Xuanwen bears this signature, but it never appears on any works with any of his other names. With this group of bottles there is suffi– cient stylistic evidence for an attribu– tion to Gan. On snuff bottles Gan's seals are usually one or two illegible ver– milion blobs, but on one example they may be read (see figure 2) as Gan (Q) and Xuan (R), particularly in the light of much clearer seals on the handscroll. His other known personal seals also appear there. They are Gan Xuan zhiyin (see fig– ure 2, S: read top to bottom and right to left, 'seal of Gan Xuan'); Gan Xuanwen yin (T: read anticlockwise from tOp right, 'seal of Gan Xuan- "'– wen') mentioned above; Yizi Yunfu CV: read top to bottom and right to left, 'one [of my] zi is Yunfu [promis– ing happiness or judicious bless- ings];' and Qingshan (V: read right to left), one of his hao. One of the few ctatable works by Gan Xuanwen is his handscroll. In the brief inscription following the lengthy painting, Gan refers to a trip taken by boat during the ]iaqing reign (fig. 3). Unfortunately, a vo– racious insect has, at some time in the past, munched away the charac– ter immediately following shi (ten) indicating the precise date of this trip. Insects flourish in the southern Chinese climate and, before modern aids to humidity and temperature control existed, southern collectors suffered their depredations. All we know from what is left of the date is that the trip tOok place between the eleventh and nineteenth years of the ]iaqing reign, that is, between 1807 and 1814. The date is of the boat trip, but the inscription indicates that the painting was started on the boat and that it was finished later. We also know that it was completed nOt long afterwards because of colophons added on a blank sheet of paper mounted after the painting. It was not uncommon for scholar-painters to take boat trips in scenic areas, staying with other scholars, painting, playing music, writing poetry, and generally enjoying themselves in