Depictions of Metals, Minerals, Insects and Plants


Jin shi kun chong cao mu zhuang (Depictions of metals, minerals, insects, and plants) was painted by Wen Shu (1594–1634), a great-great-granddaughter of Wen Zhengming (1470–1559), one of the greatest Ming dynasty painters, calligraphers, and scholars. Married to Zhang Jun, also a painter, and residing in Hanshan, Wen Shu was surrounded by nature and excelled in painting birds, flowers, plants, insects, and butterflies. She spent a number of years copying thousands of illustrations from books of traditional Chinese medicine in the imperial collection. Zhang Jun’s handwritten preface, dated the 48th year of the Wanli reign (1620), states that Wen Shu painted most objects by copying them from illustrations in books on materia medica. She painted without adding text, which distinguishes her work from the colored illustrations of the unpublished manuscript, Ben cao pin hui jing yao (Collection of essentials in materia medica), produced in 1505 by Liu Wentai and others. This album in 27 juan contains 1,316 images depicting 1,070 kinds of medical plants. In the upper right corner of each illustration is the name of the herb, handwritten in red by Wen’s father, Wen Congjian, a landscape painter. The work was previously in the collection of Zhang Fang’er, a nephew of Zhang Fengyi, Minister of the Bureau of War. There are two seal impressions, one a white rectangular shape which reads Mingshan Tang, the other the name of the workshop Qing yi fu. The album came into the National Central Library collection during the War of Resistance against Japan (1937–45) at the recommendation of businessman Pan Boshan (1904–43).

Last updated: November 9, 2011