Object Image

Flowering Crab Apple

Shen Zhou painted a broken branch (zhezhi 折枝) of crab apple, a fragment of nature rather than the full plant in its natural context. Shen uses calligraphic outlines in pure ink to depict the flower petals. The swift yet precise brushstrokes together with the slight S-shaped branch convey vitality.

The inscription is a poem written by the artist, commenting on the lovely color and melancholic aura of the crab apple blossom. Shen Zhou is the founder of the Wu School, a group of scholars and officials active around Suzhou in eastern China, known for practicing painting and calligraphy in a refined and elegant style.

Credit: Bequest of Mrs. A. Dean Perry...

Hanging scroll, ink on paper
87.0 x 28.5cm
Image and text: The Cleveland Museum of Art, 2023

Where you'll find this

The Cleveland Museum of Art
Permanent collection