SHEN ZHOU (1427-1509)
Listening to the Waterfall
Hanging scroll, ink and colour on silk
120 x 60.5 cm. (47 1/4 x 23 7/8 in.)
Inscribed with a poem and signed, with one seal of the artist
Inscription on the cover and interior of the wooden box by Kuwana Tetsujo (1864-1938), signed with one seal
Zheng Zhenduo ed., Chinese Classical Paintings Collection in Overseas VI: Ming Paintings Part I, Shanghai, 1947, pl. 33.
Kuwana Tetsujo ed., Paintings Catalogue of the Kyuka Inshitsu Kanzo Garoku (Part I), 1920.
Tajima Shiichi ed., Great Oriental Art: XI, Shinbi Shoin, Tokyo, 5 July 1911.
“Living in the city, craving for the sound of the waterfall.
Not found in the city, but running in the mountains.
Always listening, as if the waterfall is close to the ears.
Yet it is far away in reality.
The heart is with the waterfall, far away in a remote area.
With a tiny voice from the heart, the sound of the waterfall is always there. “
– Listening to the Waterfall, Shen Zhou
In this painting, Shen Zhou inscribed a seven-character poem expressing his inner
search for the sounds of the waterfall. This poem, together with the foregoing
five-character poem by the artist, highlight his quest for eternal tranquility.
One of the Four Masters of the Ming dynasty, Shen Zhou, like the remaining
masters Wen Zhengming, Tang Yin and Qiu Ying, was a native of Suzhou. Since
Suzhou was known as Wu in ancient times, they are also regarded as the Four
Masters of the Wu School. In the late Ming period, the Wu School started flourishing
and became the mainstream of Chinese paintings, specifically landscapes.
The Japanese have been very fond of collecting Chinese classical paintings
and calligraphy and Listening to the Waterfall was previously in the collection
of Kuwana Tetsujo (1864-1938), master of Kyuka Inshitsu Kanzo Garoku._ A native
of Toyama, Kuwana studied Sinology and calligraphy from a young age and then
travelled to Totomi where he practiced swordsmanship at the school founded
by Yamaoka Tesshu. After that he moved to Kanazawa to study seal carving and
epigraphy. During the Meiji period Kuwana travelled to China where he met with the
scholars in Suzhou and Hangzhou and bought many seal books of archaic bronzes.
According to Kuwana’s inscriptions on the inside cover of the wooden box for
this painting, he bought Listening to the Waterfall in 1896 while travelling in China._
He was very pleased by his purchase and showed it to his friends. In 1929, the
painting was sold by Kuwana to Sumitomo Kanichi (1896-1956), whose collection of
Chinese paintings and calligraphy can be found in Sen-oku Hakuko Kan in Japan.